Breeding Birds on the South Downs – a new project


The South Downs is a great place to see a number of different farmland birds including Lapwing, Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting, Skylark, Yellowhammer and Linnet.  Regional and national Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) trends paint a bleak picture for all of these species, but what is the situation on the South Downs?  And can it be made better? 

HOS and Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS) have joined with a number of conservation organisations who make up the South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative (SDFBI).  The SDFBI, which also includes the RSPB, BTO, GWCT, NE and the South Downs National Park Authority, is working with farmers and landowners to help create a range of habitats for birds and other farmland wildlife. 

As part of this initiative the SDFBI are setting up a monitoring project to learn more about the breeding population trends of farmland birds within the South Downs National Park in Sussex and Hampshire.  This will help to assess the success of work being undertaken, and point to areas where it will be most valuable in the future.  The monitoring will involve annual surveys starting in spring 2014, and this is where you can help. The survey method is a simplified version of the BTO Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), and like the BBS, requires recording of birds in randomly-selected 1-km squares. The Hampshire squares that have been selected are:

SU4922 nr Colden Common,Yellowhammer by Martin Bennett

SU4925 nr Twyford,

SU5228 Chilcomb Down,
SU5521 Stephen’s Castle,

SU5825 Kilmeston,

SU6029 Cheriton Wood,
SU6120 Meonstoke,

SU6225 Brockwood Copse,

SU6227 nr Bramdean,
SU6422 nr West Meon,

SU6513 nr Hambledon,

SU6526 West Meon Hut,
SU6823 nr East Meon,

SU6826 nr Privett,

SU6828 Basing Park,

SU7113 Blendworth,
SU7121 nr Butser,

SU7127 Froxfield,

SU7137 Chawton,

SU7229 nr Colemore,
SU7415 nr Chalton,

SU7522 Petersfield,

SU7630 nr Greatham,

SU7728 West Liss,
and SU7741 Binsted.


Have a look on a map and if you think that you could do a couple of breeding season visits to any one of these squares, and especially if you live very close to one of them, please consider whether you could help with the survey.  Each visit is unlikely to require more than two hours of your time.


Any help you are able to give, will be much appreciated and will play an important role in farmland bird conservation work on the South Downs.
For further details or to register, please contact Helen Crabtree at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Helen is keeping track of which squares have been allocated in both Hampshire and Sussex, and will register you against a square and send you full survey forms and instructions. (Apologies in advance, that by the time you read this, some of the squares may inevitably have already been spoken for – so not all the squares will still be available.)

Glynne Evans
on behalf of HOS Scientific Committee
and South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative