• In 2014, the SDFBI initiated a survey project to help gather data on the populations of farmland birds across the South Downs.  Based on the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), the project surveyed to total of 112 randomly selected 1km squares in 2014.  A map of the squares surveyed can be viewed here.

      During the surveys, all bird species heard and seen by volunteers were recorded, which as you can imagine leads to quite a big dataset!  Research shows that it’s the farmland specialists that are struggling most, so on the Downs we have decided to focus on corn bunting, grey partridge, lapwing, linnet, skylark and yellowhammer.  In addition to this, and to look at the abundance of some predatory species, we are also tracking populations of buzzard and red kite.

      The table below shows some initial results:

      Species

      No. Squares recorded

      % survey square occupancy

      Corn bunting

      16

      14%

      Grey partridge

      3

      3%

      Lapwing

      12

      11%

      Linnet

      74

      66%

      Skylark

      92

      82%

      Yellowhammer

      75

      67%

      Buzzard

      73

      65%

      Red kite

      11

      10%

      As this represents only one year’s data, it is not yet possible to calculate any population trends.  However, it’s encouraging to see the abundance of more widespread species such as skylark, linnet and yellowhammer.  The more localised species such as lapwing, grey partridge and corn bunting show lower abundance, although this is to be expected given the random coverage of the survey squares. 

      Maps showing the 2014 survey data can be seen in the Surveys section here.