Why are we counting?

…asks the GWCT website. And it’s a good question which certainly isn’t answered by the following text.

GWCT are organising a Big Farmland Bird Count (yes, really) for early February in case we all get bored after we can’t shoot pheasants any longer.

What next? The NFU Even Bigger Farmland Bird Count and the CLA My Land Is Bigger Than Your Land Farmland Bird Count?

We’ll have more (pointless) counting schemes than birds on farmland soon.

Archibald Thorburn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Archibald Thorburn [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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24 Replies to “Why are we counting?”

  1. Hmm, is there not a little organisation called the British Trust for Ornithology that does things like this!

    Likes(8)Dislikes(6)
  2. I'm sure the purpose of these counts are to undermine the more scientific ones carried out by the likes of the BTO. With competing sets of figures the folks in Whitehall won't know who to beleive.

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    1. The folks in Whitehall will believe which counts are politically expedient...which with the present toff and shooting government, will be the GWCT numbers every time. That's the real danger of this.

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  3. Mark,

    I have to admit to struggling to understand your rather ungenerous view of this harmless project.

    Why bother with the Big Garden Bird Watch or the RSPB Farmer Volunteer Alliance?

    If this encourages more farmers, landowners and gamekeepers to do more for farmland birds than that surely has to be a good thing - doesn't it? It's not as if GWCT are going to use any of the accrued data to produce some sort of alternative FBI - that would be ludicrous.

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  4. Im sure it will be a wonderful survey, enthusing and inspiring farmers across the land to count their birds. I'm also absolutely sure that there won't be any misuse of the data and no headlines along the lines of "farmers record millions of birds!" "there's no problem on my land..." etc will appear. Not a one. Don't you think?

    Likes(9)Dislikes(8)
  5. Blimey Mark,

    A completely harmless and possibly very useful initiative that might just inspire a few more farmers to take pride and a sense of ownership about the wildlife on their farms, (and at the same time inform us further about the 'state of nature' on farmland), has now become the next target for your ire.

    You need to cut the farming community and GWCT a bit of slack. Not everything in life is part of some great conspiracy.

    Why don't you reach out to a couple of local farmers, give them the benefit of your great experience and knowledge in this field, and offer to join and assist them in carrying out the count instead?

    You never know, you may just learn something in the process as well......

    Likes(20)Dislikes(4)
  6. Here is a different kind of farmland bird campaign....

    http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/opinion/question-of-the-week/question-of-the-week-for-january-18-2014-x.23197824

    Fancy a quick vote?

    Likes(3)Dislikes(3)
  7. And here's another one:

    http://fluidsurveys.com/surveys/frank-kBB/sea-eagle-satisfaction/

    Fancy a quick vote?

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  8. Think it could get more farmers doing things for farmland birds as well as game birds.
    I read the BFBC blog and thought that if more farmers followed that advice it might get conservationists off their backs,a big might of course but if enough farmers did the advice there then farmland birds would probably increase,something no one else seems to be able to manage.
    For farmland birds to increase more farmers have to be interested in birds so if this count does that it will be a big benefit.Some initiative is needed because as most farmers in my opinion have a low opinion of rspb not many will participate in BGBW.
    I do wonder seeing how many people seem to suddenly join rspb forums just before BGBW is it really a tool for getting peoples addresses and email addresses in the hope of getting new members,nothing wrong in that but a bit devious.

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  9. Completely harmless ? Like the cynical manipulation of the science by the climate change denial industry ? Whilst I'd love to believe this was completely on the level I'd predict right now that the results of this survey will be at odds with established surveys, especially BTO surveys which, without the policy link that some would suggest might undermine RSPB work, are as objective as it is possible to get. Fed to scientifically illiterate policy makers who see their role as balancing differing opinions, this survey has the potential to do real and direct harm to our farmland birds. And if I'm completely wrong, could I suggest GWTC prove it by going into partnership on this survey with BTO ? If they do I will be the first to apologise for my cynicism !

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  10. Completely harmless ? Like the cynical manipulation of the science by the climate change denial industry ? Whilst I'd love to believe this was completely on the level I'd predict right now that the results of this survey will be at odds with established surveys, especially BTO surveys which, without the policy link that some would suggest might undermine RSPB work, are as objective as it is possible to get. Fed to scientifically illiterate policy makers who see their role as balancing differing opinions, this survey has the potential to do real and direct harm to our farmland birds. And if I'm completely wrong, could I suggest GWTC prove it by going into partnership on this survey with BTO ? If they do I will be the first to apologise for my cynicism !

    Likes(10)Dislikes(16)
    1. Roderick, curious about how this survey could harm farmland birds???

      (a) GWCT published science visit http://www.gwct.org.uk/research/scientific-publications/
      (b) charitable objects are here http://www.gwct.org.uk/about/our-charitable-objects/

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      1. Andrew - you tell us how it could help. Off of a Guest blog to spell out the great strengths and advantages.

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  11. Question of the week Scottish Farmer voting on whether Sea Eagles need numbers controlling.
    Think it is completely wrong to suggest that Golden Eagles and large sheep at risk and maybe children.
    There seems no evidence that they bother large sheep at all and there is even doubt that they bother lambs.Someone who probably knows as much about Sea Eagles as anyone in the country watched suspected Eagles all day and found they ignored the lambs that were in question and in fact pinched food from a Buzzard.
    All the evidence seems to suggest that Golden Eagles and Sea Eagles exist side by side quite happily and the Golden Eagle capable of looking after itself.
    My observations are that in general Sea Eagles nest in trees and Golden Eagles nest on cliffs.

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  12. I find it difficult to reconcile the concept of gamekeepers counting the wild birds on their lands and the desire to "highlight the good conservation work being undertaken". Does this maybe point up the difference in understanding of the word conservation?

    I am sure that there are laudable motives behind the concept of this "survey" yet fear that the numbers will be used by those who wish to marginalise real conservation bodies. Maybe the RSPB/BTO should offer to help in the methodologies and actual surveys themselves? I'm sure that they could quickly raise a body of volunteers to help.

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  13. The problem with the GWCT is that they only want to 'conserve' particular birds and wildlife in the short term, in order to then 'blow their brains out' later. And any long term 'conservation' intentions are just so they can repeat the process ad infinitum.

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    1. Diane, thanks for your thoughts. For those interested in making up their own mind please visit www.gwct.org.uk to read about the GWCT's conservation research. Get involved to find out more.

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      1. Andrew, I would hope that people would make up their own mind by reading widely and also seeing past propaganda. I am not disputing that your organisation carries out research and surveys. But, at the end of the day, your reason for surveying and researching is to establish and maintain a sustainable supply of birds and wildlife to kill. This is barely conservation in my opinion.

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        1. "But, at the end of the day, your reason for surveying and researching is to establish and maintain a sustainable supply of birds and wildlife to kill"

          An unfair and seemingly ill-informed criticism imho. Are you really arguing that the GWCT have undertaken research into species such as blackbird, song thrush, spotted-fly catcher and other song birds just so that they can shoot them ?!

          You may not like shooting and other field sports, that is fair enough, but you shouldn't let this blind you to some of the good work that the GWCT do.

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        2. There will be many farmers taking part in the count such as myself who don't shoot and don't run any kind of commercial shoot on their farm. I am taking part in the count to see which birds are doing well as a result of conservation measures we have put in place, and indeed those which aren't, so that we can continue to learn and improve our wild bird habitat management.

          The results will ultimately be used to compare against itself over several years, not to contradict other long standing research like the BTO bird atlas, which I also contributed a to.

          The GWCT trust website is a very valuable source of research for conservationists and farmers with a keen interest in wildlife as well as for those just interested in game. The clue is in the name after all.

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