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  • Writer's pictureSuffolk Bird Group

English Farm Woodland Bird Survey

The information below is taken from the BTO website, so if you’d rather just read it all on their site, here are the links:


Since 1988, over 22,000 farm woods have been planted in England.  The woods are mostly small, between 1 and 5 hectares in size, which will make survey coverage quite quick and straightforward.  These farm woods were planted in a wide variety of settings, ranging from complete isolation through to alongside existing established woodland. This provides a very interesting natural experiment to assess how well birds have colonised these new woodlands on farmland.

A new survey for 2019 plans to provide data on how birds have colonised woods planted in farmland.  Details can be found on the BTO website, but further information is also provided below.

What is required?

Surveyors need to be able to identify birds by sight and sound, and ideally they will have had experience with other BTO surveys or bird territory mapping.

This survey will cover many of the 46 farm woodland sites previously surveyed in 1999, as well as up to 2000 other farm woods, which haven’t been surveyed at all.

The sites are small, so it should be possible to cover a number of woodland plots on a farm in a morning; each plot should take around 20 to 30 minutes to survey, depending on size!

Four morning visits are required between 15 March 2019 and 15 July 2019, to record all birds in and around the farm wood plot. Registrations will be recorded on site maps, using standard BTO species and activity codes, mainly to accurately plot all individuals and help avoid double counting.  A summary of the number of territories detected will then be determined from each survey visit.

Some basic, but essential, habitat recording will be required for farm woods, to record the features such as tree species, boundary type and mammal activity.

How to sign up

It is now possible to register for the survey. You will be able to view an interactive map of farm woodland locations, summarises by 1-km squares, from which you can select the sites you would like to survey.

Some squares may only have single farm woods, whereas others will have many, so we would encourage you to pick squares with multiple farm woods if possible.

Once a location has been selected, we will then need to contact the landowner to request permission to survey the site, which isn’t guaranteed, and then provide contact and visit details to the surveyor.

Access to land

Due to GDPR and landowner confidentiality conditions, all site access permission requests will be arranged by Forestry Commission.  Thereafter, this survey will be managed centrally by BTO HQ. At the moment access permission for most squares is still pending. Once a landowner has given permission for their farm woodlands to be covered, BTO will forward contact details to the surveyor, after which surveyors will need to organise the details of access. 

BTO will contact each surveyor that has expressed an interest in covering a square as soon as possible afterwards to confirm whether or not access permission has been granted. We foresee that, in some cases, access may be refused and we will have to ask surveyors to select an alternative.

Once a square is allocated the surveyor will receive a map showing the locations of all the farm woodland plots that we are aware of.  It is likely that there may be other plots, planted since 1990, which should also be marked and surveyed if possible.

Further information

More detailed survey information, including instructions and recording is in preparation and will be available in early 2019.

You can contact the survey organisers Daria Dadam and Greg Conway via

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