Farmland bird surveying is undertaken to track population trends and find out if conservation management is making an impact. The list below provides information and details of surveys going on across the South Downs.
South Downs Farmland Bird Monitoring
National trends for farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer and lapwing are showing continued declines, but is this the case across the South Downs? To try and find out, in 2014 the SDFBI launched a farmland bird monitoring project in conjunction with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the Sussex and Hampshire Ornithological Societies (SOS and HOS). The project matches volunteer surveyors with randomly selected 1km grid squares within the National Park boundary. The projects aims to survey at least 100 such squares each year using the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) methodology.
Designed to be repeated every year, the survey consists of two morning visits in April and June. The results of the surveys will help us track the fortunes of birds such as skylark, linnet and yellowhammer. Over time, we can use this information to map population trends for the South Downs to see how species are faring, and how it compares to the national picture. The information gathered can also be used to inform and target future conservation action for farmland birds.
The surveys are designed to be completed from public rights of way, but in cases where this is difficult, some volunteers may approach landowners for access. If you fall within a survey square and are contacted, it would be much appreciated if you are able to allow access as it enables the full survey to take place. If you are approached, remember to ask for sightings to be sent back to you, you never know, it may throw up some surprises!
SDFBI Bird Monitoring results
The table below shows the results from the first 3 years of the project (2014, 2015 and 2016). A total of 112 1km grid squares were surveyed in 2014, 120 in 2015, and 118 in 2016.
% of survey squares species present Avg. No. birds in occupied squares
3 4 3.92
4 5.67 6.8
2.92 4.33 3
5.97 6.96 6.86
7.75 7.40 7.7
3.49 4.06 3.76
1.71 1.95 2.07
1.45 1.4 1.24
Maps for key species from the 2014 survey can be found here.
Maps for key species from the 2015 survey can be found here.
The maps below show the results from the 2016 survey, with some comparisons with the previous 2 years for priority species.
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