Bunting flying on farms

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FARMS in the Rye and Battle area are providing a vital habitat for birdlife says the RSPB.

Results from the RSPB’s Volunteer and Farmer Alliance surveys carried out this year have been encouraging.

The surveys, carried out by volunteers, help farmers to identify birds of conservation concern on their land. The RSPB can then advise them on how to help these species and make the most of their farms for wildlife.

Bruce Fowkes, RSPB South East’s farmland advisor, said: “We’ve had a great response from farmers in East Sussex wanting to take part. The Volunteer and Farmer Alliance is all about helping them to help the birds.

“The distribution maps produced from the surveys show where priority species are so that the farmers can put in place targeted conservation measures.”

In East Sussex, 12 farms covering a total area of 1504.1 hectares were surveyed.

In the south east, the top three birds seen during surveys were the Chaffinch and Blackbird which were both seen on 97% of farms, the Blue tit which was present on 95% and the Wren which was present on 93%.

Some of the least seen birds included key species of conservation concern such as the Corn Bunting and the Grey Partridge which were only seen on 16% of farms surveyed.

The surveys take place over three visits between April and July, in the early morning when birds are most active and there is the best chance of seeing as many as possible.

Work is already being done with farmers in East Sussex to help benefit some of the birds seeing the greatest decline. The data collected from the surveys will add to the understanding of how these birds are doing and enable further conservation action to be taken.

It is hoped to increase the number of surveys in East Sussex next year. Any farmers or volunteers who would like to participate can get more information by contacting Eleanor Burke at eleanor.burke@rspb.org.uk or by calling 01273 763616.