Over the last few years we have been participating in the Red List Revival scheme. This is a means of quantifying the success of our wildlife-friendly farming against a national benchmark. The scheme depends on the existing data set created by the British Trust for Ornithology’s Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). The BBS is a randomised sample of the UK bird population. Volunteers survey 1km Grid Squares randomly generated by the BTO from the Ordnance Survey grid system. The survey is highly standardised, with volunteers counting all the birds they see or hear on two 1km long transects through their grid square. The transects have to be far enough apart in their square that birds are not double-counted.

Redlist Revival Farmland Bird Indicator It is a nice simple system which has got around 3000 volunteers taking part, sampling the whole of the countryside. Surveys are done during the breeding season, one visit in early spring and another visit in late spring. The data from this survey are widely used by governments and conservation bodies, and are the principle means of determining which of the widespread, common species are declining, stable or increasing. Other surveys are conducted for specialist species such as seabirds or rare species.Redlist Revival Farmland Bird Indicator

Redlist Revival has taken this method, and has made use of the large data set behind BBS, to create a way that individual sites can compare their bird numbers with this baseline. Instead of using a randomly selected site, we design an equivalent survey route through our own chosen sites. The survey covers the same length and takes the same amount of time, so what we see can be compared with the typical and exceptional numbers from the national data. 

The scheme takes particular interest in the declining species that are placed on the ‘Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern’, and looks at birds in defined groups that are indicative of particular habitats. So for the CRT, our sites are generally compared with the Farmland Bird Indicator list. Recently, we were awards the Redlist Revival award for top 1% and top 10% for highest density of a specific bird population on our properties. 

Westfield RLR survey complete 2020I did the RedList Revival survey at Westfield yesterday, and ’98 land today. The photos show the notebook after the first 1km transect for each site, and the additional species and numbers logged on the second transect. I use the standard 2-letter code system, so the attached word document shows the interpretation with real species names, and the red-list species are highlighted. Note that Song Thrush is a Woodland Bird Indicator, not a Farmland Bird Indicator.

It was good to get the corn buntings today – there were 22 when I arrived at the site, but they had dispersed a bit by the time I got to them during the formal count. Grey partridges were in hiding these two days, but hopefully more will be seen on the second visit in late spring. If only they were all as obvious as the mallards that share their feeding hoppers…

Dr Vince Lea
Head of Wildlife Monitoring 

Edward Darling, Chief Executive presented the ambitions of the Redlist Revival at the CRT's 25th Anniversary celebrations at the Royal Geographical Society in 2018. In 2020, five CRT properties were awarded certificates for the highest density of a particular species. 

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