Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's Never Easy

There’s ringing news down the page but first some information not unconnected from the voluntary work that bird ringers undertake. 

According to a new study, if given funding and support from similar or future new schemes, British farmers have the potential to partially reverse the declines of Linnets and other farmland birds over the past 40 years - Birdguides.

“New research funded by Natural England and DEFRA used six years of survey data to track changes in the abundance of birds on farms. The study involved over 60 farms under Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements in three English regions between 2008 and 2014, and revealed that 12 of the 17 priority farmland bird species showed a positive change in abundance, going against the 56 per cent decline in the number of farmland birds nationally since 1970. 

The Farmland Bird Index, one of our most important measures of biodiversity, increased by between 31 per cent and 97 per cent in different regions under HLS during 2008-2014. The average response of 17 priority bird species to HLS management was an increase in abundance of 163 per cent; bird numbers more than doubled. Results from farmers and land managers working on HLS agri-environment schemes were compared with farms in the UK’s wider farmed landscape. 

Results show farmers have the potential to deliver large and rapid population increases in a number of struggling farmland birds such as Skylark, Starling and Linnet if they are given the funding and support to manage their land in a wildlife-friendly way. This new information comes as the UK government is considering how to invest in a better agriculture system post-EU membership that works for nature, rewards farmers and benefits everyone around the country.” 


“UK Government Environment Minister Michael Gove said: “Our farmers are the original ‘friends of the earth’ and these results clearly demonstrate the vital role they play in protecting our wildlife and boosting biodiversity. These results show that with the right management and more targeted support for farmers, we can reverse the decline in numbers of our birds.” 

Dr Will Peach, RSPB head of research delivery section said: “The UK has experienced a massive loss of farmland wildlife since the 1970s and DEFRA’s Wild Bird Indicators published only last month shows this loss has continued during the last five years. Our latest study shows that when farmers are supported to adopt wildlife-friendly approaches, then bird life will rapidly bounce back. 

Many farmers are doing great things for wildlife, and without their efforts the countryside would undoubtedly be in a much worse position. We have the knowledge and the tools to reverse farmland bird declines. What we need now is the political will to implement them more widely.”


Meanwhile, bird ringers have an important role to play in collecting data, even though our own catches of Linnets during the latter half of wet and windy 2017 have been poor at two ringing sites, both areas of farmland under Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements. 

There was a slight frost this morning for a meet up at Gulf Lane, our first visit of 2018 to Project Linnet. We started the morning with a respectable total of 213 new Linnets from August to December 2017 and 423 new Linnets for year 2017. 

The winter has been mild with the number of frosty nights counted on one hand but I am buoyed up by the number of Linnets at ringing sites at Cockerham and Glasson Dock, anywhere between 150 and 350 throughout many visits.

The problem at the moment is catching the Linnets, with today no exception. Despite a count of 160 birds this morning we managed to catch just two. There is still plenty of natural food around in the field of wild birdseed crop with the Linnets reluctant to use the food we leave as backup. But we don't give up easily so it’s back to the drawing board with our theories and proposals for next time.


Stay tuned, there’s more birding, ringing and pictures soon.

Linking today with Anni's Birding and Eileen's Blogspot.


David Gascoigne said...

Good evening Phil: I am heartened by the observation that enlightened farmers can help with the recovery of many pastoral species. Perhaps we are finally getting to a period where agricultural productivity and habitat for wildlife are not viewed as mutually exclusive. I hope so!

Stuart Price said...

Sounds encouraging Phil..........

eileeninmd said...

Hello, this sounds like great news Phil. It seems our country is going back in time as far as nature and habitat goes. All the good regulations ae now being reversed. Love the photos and birds. Happy Birding. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

Joyful said...

Beautiful photos. It's great that farmers are being recognized for their substantial role and potential role in conservation. Enjoy your weekend!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Beautiful captures of all the birds. It is great to know that the increased bird population due to the support given to farmers by the government, is reaping results, and an even better approach to wild life conservation this year, is good news indeed.

eileeninmd said...

Stopping back to say thanks for linking up. Beautiful birds and photos!
Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You sure see big flocks of the Linnets! They are so beautiful! Enjoy your weekend!

sandyland said...

Linnett Land

Jean said...

Your news sounds very promising! Even though they aren't my favorite birds over here, your photo of the starling is very nice.

♥ Anni ♥ said... connection to funding & farmers sounds so promising! Everything about it. A great number of birds & even tho few banded, it was still a day well spent. (except for the frost)

I want to thank you for showing us at I'd Rather B Birdin' your weekend photos!! Your paticipation is always greatly appreciated.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful pics.. Happy week ahead..

A Colorful World said...

Kudos to the farmers who are trying to help! That's wonderful!

Angie said...

These days, it is refreshing to get good news of any kind, so thank you for the uplifting information. And more proof that farmers can play an active role in conservation!

Stewart M said...

Lets hope that Brexit ends with some good outcomes from farm wildlife. It looks like the data supports the kinds of actions that have been taken in 'HLS' areas - but we all know what governments tend to do with evidence!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

NC Sue said...

Thank you for sharing your photos at

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

What do you think of Michael Gove in more general terms as Minister for the Environment?

Mary Cromer said...

Finally some encouraging news...hoping that it will all work out Phil!

Lowcarb team member said...

This certainly sounds encouraging Phil, lets hope it is a positive outcome.

Loved seeing your photographs.

All the best Jan

Lea said...

Glad to hear that people are becoming more aware of wildlife loss and are willing to do something about it
Great photos!
Have a wonderful week!

lotusleaf said...

Beautiful photos.

Jenn Jilks said...

Many farmers are learning a lot.
I love your birds!

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