The NGO is encouraging its members to take part in the 2018 Big Farmland Bird Count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust between 9 and 18 February.

The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is encouraging its members to take part in the 2018 Big Farmland Bird Count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

The Bird Count, which will run from 9 to 18 February, is organised to highlight the work done by gamekeepers and farmers that supports the declining numbers of many bird species traditionally found on farmland. The initiative, which is now in its fifth year, is vital for helping to establish the trends in bird species on farm. In 2017, more than 970 gamekeepers and farmers took part, recording 112 species across 900,000 acres.

Jim Egan, head of Development and Training at the GWCT’s Allerton Project, who runs the initiative said: “The largest songbird habitat in this country is managed by gamekeepers and farmers, and many of their efforts to reverse bird declines go unrecorded. By taking part in the Big Farmland Bird Count, gamekeepers can help not only to show how their work is a vital part of helping to ensure the future survival of species such as grey partridge, yellowhammers, corn buntings and skylarks, but also help them to see the trends in these populations on their shoots. We understand the crucial role gamekeepers play and we want to give them an opportunity to show what their conservation efforts deliver.

“Last year’s count showed that more than 50% of those counting birds were also putting down supplementary feed in February, which we know makes a tremendous difference not only to gamebirds, but also to songbirds. We hope that this year we can encourage people taking part to go a step further. If, for example, they see tree sparrows, perhaps they can place a few nesting boxes in that area. Gamekeepers in the UK can give us a real insight into how their work helps our native farmland birds, and we’re thrilled that the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation is supporting this initiative.”

Liam Bell, Chairman of the NGO, said: “The GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is a great initiative, and one that the NGO is proud to support. I hope that as many gamekeepers as possible take part. It’s very easy, doesn’t take up much time, and it is a great way for gamekeepers to show the wider public how we help to support songbirds by providing habitat, predator control and feed, as well discovering what songbirds you have on your shoot, and how you can further support those species.”

To take part, all that is needed is to find a spot that is likely to have a good variety of species, and record the numbers of the different birds over half an hour. The results can be uploaded online, and you will be able to see previous years’ records if you have taken part before, giving you a year-on-year comparison. There are also fact sheets and a library of information that you can download. For more information or to download a count sheet, visit

Bird species’ images courtesy of Peter Thompson / GWCT.

Notes to Editors

  • The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation represents the gamekeepers of England and Wales, defending and promoting gamekeeping, gamekeepers and ensuring high standards throughout the profession.
  • The National Gamekeepers’ Organisation was founded in 1997 by a group of gamekeepers who felt that their profession was threatened by public misunderstanding and poor representation.
  • Today, there are around 13,000 members of the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation.




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