CUMBRIAN farmers recorded 10 ‘red list’ species after rising to the challenge of the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count.
Some of the UK’s most rapidly declining species were spotted across the county in the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust’s (GWCT) farmer-led survey.
These included Fieldfare, grey partridge, house sparrow, lapwing, linnet, redwing, skylark, song thrush, tree sparrow and yellow hammer.
More than 500 farmers, covering nearly half a million acres of UK farmland, participated in the count despite it being the wettest winter since records began.
In total, farmers recorded seeing 116 different types of birds, and six red-listed data species appeared in the top 25 of birds counted.
A GWCT spokesperson said: “We did not have as many farmers as hoped in Cumbria, however, the number and variety of birds seen during the count week was really impressive, with many red listed species such as Lapwing, starling, linnet, corn bunting and skylark appearing on the farms in reasonable numbers.
“We were particularly delighted to see that more than 10 grey partridges were included in the Cumbria count, which was an extremely exciting revelation as these are one of our fastest declining farmland bird species and sadly in many areas they are now locally extinct.
“So this was a great achievement and identifies the range of intensive conservation work being implemented by farmers to help the wonderful grey partridge.”
Birds of prey also featured well in the Cumbria figures with local farmers seeing buzzards, sparrowhawks, red kite and kestrel.
In addition large flocks of fieldfare, redwing, starling and yellowhammer were well represented in the survey.
The spokesperson went on to say: “The GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count certainly captured the imagination of the farming industry and we were delighted with the response.
“Next year we are hoping that even more farmers from Cumbria will come forward and participate in the survey.
“The evidence we have gathered this year on just a few farms demonstrates the wide variety of species that are out there, and reinforces the fact that there is some very good conservation work being carried out by local farmers.”
The second Big Farmland Bird Count will take place during the week of February 7-15 2015 and will help the GWCT to continue building a comprehensive picture of how over-wintering birds are faring on UK farmland.