Reed bunting Emberiza schoeniclus, perched on top of reed mace, Hertfordshire

Bird numbers taking off at Hope Farm

Since 2000, we have seen a steady rise in numbers of arable farmland birds breeding at Hope Farm.

Birds at Hope Farm

Linnets, yellowhammers, reed buntings and skylarks have at least tripled in number.

Good practice farming such as cutting hedgerows and ditches just once every three years, alongside our trials and the creation of insect-rich and seed-rich habitats have helped us attract new species such as grey partridges and yellow wagtails to breed on the farm.

In 1999, the Government set a target of reversing the decline in farmland birds by 2020. This is measured by the collective population trend of the 19 bird species that are most dependent on farmland in the UK – the Farmland Bird Indicator (FBI).

At Hope Farm, the same measure shows we have not only reversed the decline but produced a major increase since purchasing the farm.

Birds are not only flourishing in the breeding season. In winter, the number of birds using the farm has also increased. Regular visitors include fieldfares and redwings, large flocks of reed buntings and yellowhammers as well as our resident barn owls hunting at dusk over the stubble fields. 

Hope Farm 2000-2017 Farmland Bird Indicator graph (2000 = 1.0)

Our findings

In January 2016 we recorded 2,933 birds of 48 species, compared to 534 birds of 30 species in January 2001 - a huge increase in diversity as well as abundance.

Species that contribute to the FBI include the corn bunting, goldfinch, greenfinch, grey partridge, jackdaw, kestrel, lapwing, linnet, reed bunting, rook, skylark, starling, stock dove, tree sparrow, turtle dove, yellowhammer, yellow wagtail, whitethroat and woodpigeon.