FARMERS in Herefordshire turned out in force to identify and count their birds during February.

Joining a the Big Farm Bird Count, a national scheme initiated by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, and supported by the Campaign for the Farmed Environment, The National Farmers Union and Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, farmers dusted down their binoculars and got out on their farms to identify the birds and count them.

More than 50 farms took part, representing around 10,000 acres of the county. Nearly 60 different species were seen.

Peter Jennings, a lifelong ornithologist, who lives near Staunton-on-Arrow said: "On the four farms I visited we recorded over 1,400 birds of 46 species.

"The significance of tall, thick hedgerows, small ponds and areas of woodland or scrub, old orchards, fields of roots and game cover crops was huge."

Caroline Hanks from the Herefordshire Campaign for the Farmed Environment said it can be more challenging for farms to provide bird feed during the winter than in the summer months.

Farmers who scatter grain, fill feeding stations and grow wild bird seed mixes are much more likely to be rewarded with good numbers of birds on their farms at this time of year.

Patrick Wrixon, chairman of the Herefordshire NFU, said the variety of species and the number of birds have provided an illustration of the diversity of habitat that has been created and maintained by farmers in the county.