At the end of January, the Helford Farmers Group hosted a farmland bird training day, with support from FWAG South West, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and the NFU. The aim of the day was to raise awareness of how vital farmers are for farmland bird conservation, to encourage participation in the Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) in Cornwall, and to learn to identify some of our common and not-so-common farmland birds!

Hosted by Dave and Terry at Tregoon Farm, the morning kicked off with hot drinks and sausage sandwiches, a talk from Peter Thompson, a lively discussion amongst local farmers around the future of farming and the environment, finishing off with a fantastic hour-long walk around the farmed landscape of the Gweek Stream.

The BFBC is an annual survey that gives farmers and conservationists an insight into the effect of conservation management on local bird populations. The BFBC helps to raise awareness of the importance of our farmed landscapes for birds, as well as increasing the public’s understanding and awareness of native wildlife and the countryside.

On our morning at Tregoon Farm we recorded a total of 32 bird species. many of these were spotted around the pastures and on the specially grown bird seed crops that Dave Oates has established through his Mid Tier stewardship, as part of his annual rotation and organic conversion. The pond and reservoir also seemed to be a popular place for birds, with the thick hedges and woodland strips providing valuable shelter on what was a wet and cold day! Dave supplementary feeds the birds along tracks and gateways, providing a much-needed source of food to help the birds (and small mammals) through the hungry gap before spring.

Thank you to Peter Thompson of GWCT for his informative talk and leading the walk, and to Patrick Aubrey-Fletcher for representing NFU who are sponsoring the BFBC this year.

The BFBC runs from 8th – 17th February this year. All that is required is 30 minutes of time spent on the farm recording what bird species you see. We recommend farmers survey a location that is popular with birds, for example a bird seed plot, over-wintered stubble, or grazed fodder crop. You can download the survey sheets from, get your binoculars and a bird book (or the ID sheets provided on the GWCT website), and start watching! If you’d like to participate in the BFBC but would like some help with identifying bird species, contact FWAG South West ([email protected], or 01823 660684) and we’ll find a local specialist volunteer who can help with the survey.


List of birds counted on the day.