Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Save the date! Come and visit us at the CLA Game Fair 2015

The GWCT will once again be exhibiting at the CLA Game Fair which will be held between 31st July and 2nd August at Harewood House in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside near Leeds.

We would like to invite you to visit our stand to learn all about the current research carried out by the Trust, and see that research in action. You will also be able to take advantage of our welcome refreshments. The stand is a great place to catch up with your friends and guests.

You will also be able to:

•  Enjoy a selection of home cooked food through the day:

- Start the day with a cooked breakfast, with a choice of a full English or breakfast bap

- The GWCT Game Fair lunch on Saturday and Sunday – a 2 course lunch consisting of a selection of cold cuts and homemade salads, both hot and cold, local bread and a choice of delicious English desserts. A vegetarian option will also be available. Lunch on the Friday will be restricted to members and their guests.

- Afternoon tea cream tea, with homemade scones, strawberries and whipped Jersey cream.

- All refreshments are reasonably priced, and tea and coffee will be included with all meals.

- Our new caterers are highly experienced at ensuring you enjoy a tasty meal in a convivial surroundings

• Enjoy the GWCT bar that will be serving a full selection of soft and alcoholic drinks all day, including a local draught ale and lager

• Invite your family and guests to join you for refreshments or a meal, or just a welcome sit down where you can relax after visiting the busy fair.

• Meet with GWCT advisors and scientists to discuss conservation issues and learn about the Trust’s latest research.

• Bring the whole family - The exhibits area will enable you to discover first-hand the research projects that GWCT scientist are currently working on. This year we will focus on encouraging a younger audience onto our stand and have exhibits of interest to them so they can learn about the countryside, wildlife management and conservation.

Please rest assured that we will be providing all these facilities as cost effectively as possible, and with the help of several sponsors, so that the majority of donations will continue to go to funding the important research that we do.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Over 2,000 people downloaded our FREE voucher for the 2014 CLA Game Fair - ensure you don't miss out in 2015. Click here to get your voucher >

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Our letter in The Times: Bird in the bush

Dear Sir

Bramblings have “irruption” years when masses of them over-winter here due to lack of food on the continent (letter, Wing and a prayer, Feb 17).  This year there is an abundance of food in the form of a massive beech mast harvest – a favourite food – so many are feeding within woodland and very low numbers are being recorded. Chaffinch too are also feeding on the abundant beech mast crop. Bramblings could be everywhere next winter – that is the nature of the bird!

Yellowhammer have declined – and are quite a sedentary bird so this may be reflecting a local trend. However, keep growing millet – a real favourite of theirs and that might help them get through this period called the ‘hungry gap’ – a difficult time for many birds in the late winter.

On a positive note – 150 Reed bunting is a wonderful count – so keep up these great efforts.

Peter Thompson
Farmland Biodiversity Advisor
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Guest blog: Big Farmland Bird Count 2015 – be proud, be loud, be heard

by Annabel Shackleton, Open Farm Sunday Manager for LEAF

You’ve spotted, recorded, brushed down your binoculars and sent your results to the guys at GWCT. Big Farmland Bird Count 2015 is over for another year. Early results look to be really positive – not only in terms of the number of farmers taking part this year but with reported sightings of some 117 species including some 14 at risk species – including lapwing, starling, yellowhammer and linnet.  Farmers should feel really proud of these preliminary results and I am sure when final figures are announced in the next few weeks, we are likely to see some more remarkable findings.

The Big Farmland Bird Count is a fantastic example of the power of positive news. It serves as a hugely valuable demonstration of the impact farmers conservation work is having on the state of farmland birds in the UK. It is also a great way for farmers to showcase what they are doing on the ground to protect wildlife on their farms. But when all the data has been gathered, the numbers crunched and results trumpeted, there’s an absolutely vital next step. And that is getting the general public to understand what farmers are doing all year round to care for our precious bird species.  Open Farm Sunday is just such a vehicle for reaching out to the public, sharing with them what farmers do to produce our food as well as fanfaring all the work they do for farmland birds. Open Farm Sunday means that people can see for themselves the vital role farmer’s play in managing our countryside and safeguarding all its wonderful wildlife.

It is only by getting people to see for themselves what farmers are doing as food producers and custodians of the countryside that they will come to really understand the connections between the food they eat and the countryside around them.

So be proud of what you do for farmland birds. Shout about your commitment to conservation and get involved in this year’s Open Farm Sunday. It is up to you what size and type of event you choose – whether it is a simple farm walk for friends and neighbours or a larger event for your local community. Every event matters and every farmer’s reasons for opening up will differ. But what unties them all is their desire to reach out to their local communities and show people what they do and why farming matters. 

Open Farm Sunday takes place on the 7th June. LEAF offers lots of free help and resources to help you organise and publicise your event. Click here to register your event or to find out more, come along to one our FREE Information Events taking place over the next few months.

The Allerton Project team have started planning already so watch this space for more information.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Gamewise Spring 2015: a sneak preview

The spring edition of our Gamewise members magazine will be hitting doorsteps from the start of March so here's a sneak preview of what's inside:

Grey partridges make a comeback at the Rotherfield Demonstration Project

Tagging and the woodcock for schools project

Farmers take up the challenge

The MorFish project has made substantial headway into our understanding of salmon

Doing more for bees

Work has started in the Welsh uplands after a successful funding bid

The definitive guide to greening rules for farmers

Expert advice for March to June

Flower-rich grass margin, rat control Q&As, Grouse Technical Services

The Allerton Project becomes one of five research farms supported by Defra

Sir John Randall MP gives his opinion

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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Our letter to The Guardian: pine martens and capercaillie

Dear Sir

As usual George Monbiot is persuasive and provocative and he obviously cares deeply about the world around him. But it is a shame that he needs to demonise those that are trying to help not hinder wildlife recovery (comment 30th Jan).

No one knows how significant pine marten are in driving the overall population decline of capercaillie, although previous studies at the RSPB’s Abernethy Forest have shown that pine marten are significant nest predators. Given there are just 1,300 capercaillie left in the UK and falling, and pine marten are not now threatened but increasing in range and abundance, perhaps we ought to know more about their relationship? Translocating martens away from important capercaillie areas, to locally reduce their numbers, could improve our understanding.

We firmly believe heads in ideological sand will not prevent another extinction of the capercaillie in Scotland. Instead we have proposed to other interested parties the approach which saved the water vole from the mink; sound scientific evidence backing sensitive and proper wildlife management. Together with partner organisations we are considering what potential projects might help the vulnerable capercaillie within the context of a healthy marten population.

Wildlife recovery doesn’t have to be a slow arduous affair. By taking a consensual, productive, pragmatic approach underpinned by properly conducted research it is possible to secure the future of our most vulnerable wildlife species.

Dr Adam Smith
Director Scotland
Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust

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Monday, 2 February 2015

Guest Blog - The Tam Tod Trophy: open for nominations

by Catherine Midgley, Education Manager for Countryside Learning Scotland

Countryside Learning Scotland promote and manage a countryside award known as the Tam Tod Trophy. This award is presented annually to a person under the age of 21 that demonstrates respect for the countryside coupled with an enthusiasm and dedication in their chosen country sport or country sports career. 

Inaugurated in 2009, the Tam Tod Trophy was funded in memory of one of Scotland’s finest countrymen, the late Tam Tod, a gamekeeper, ghillie and lifelong friend of the countryside. The specially commissioned trophy was created by leading designer Robert MacFadzean of Fine Iron Design and the 2015 winner will be invited to a presentation at Scone Game Fair 2015.

We would urge you to nominate a young country sports person by completing this nomination form and circulate to others within your organisation. The closing date for entries is 1st May 2015 at midday. We very much look forward to receiving your nomination.