Thousands of farmland birds flock to National Trust farms in Pembrokeshire

Starlings on farmland in North Pembrokeshire
Published : 19 Jul 2019

Results from the National Trust’s biggest winter farmland bird survey in Wales suggest that more than 22,000 birds are benefitting from our nature-friendly farming approach in Pembrokeshire.

Starling, skylark, lapwing and chaffinch are among the 64 species we recorded as part of a survey to review how winter farmland birds are faring across nine of our tenanted and licenced farms in North Pembrokeshire and the success of our land management changes for wildlife.

Farmland birds are one of the fastest declining groups of birds in the UK and are particularly vulnerable over the winter due to a loss of feeding habitats.

Working in partnership

Speaking about the Trust’s work in Pembrokeshire to combat the decline, James Roden, area ranger, said: “We have been working in partnership with our farm tenants across the county to implement a number of changes on our farmland to better deliver for nature.

“Measures have included encouraging wildlife by resting fields, leaving some fields or margins unsprayed, sowing wild bird cover crops and improving grasslands for wildlife.

“The survey results highlight the importance of low input mixed farming systems which incorporate spring sown cereals with winter stubbles and provide farmland birds with a vital food source through the winter.”

We worked with a group of 25 volunteers to complete the winter survey between November and February, totalling an impressive 150 volunteer hours. Folkestone, Llanunwas, Pwll Caerog, Trefrane, Treginnis, Trehill, Treseisyllt, West Hook and Ynys Barri are the nine farms that were surveyed.

Starling, skylark, lapwing and chaffinch are among the 64 species recorded
Skylark in North Pembrokeshire
Starling, skylark, lapwing and chaffinch are among the 64 species recorded

What did the monitoring work involve?

Monitoring involved walking a set route through several fields on each farm and recording all birds identified visually or by sound and their location, with every site surveyed three times during the process.

A total of 22,916 birds were counted across the farms, covering approximately 1,000 acres.

James adds: “We are pleased with the results of the survey and to see large numbers of birds benefitting from our nature-friendly approach.

“There is still more work to be done – we will continue working with our tenants to restore wildlife on our farmland and plan to complete the farmland bird survey along with breeding bird surveys, annually to monitor progress.”

Our winter farmland bird survey in numbers

Take a look at our infographic to see our winter farmland bird survey in numbers.