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Farmers urged to become insect friendly

[Thursday 25 May 2006]

BUGS, hoppers, caterpillars and beetles are just some of the favourite insects gobbled up by hungry young farmland bird chicks when they first hatch.

To help farmers recognise these good insects living on their land, a leading conservation charity has produced a new guide which identifies the most important insects needed to feed young chicks.

Curlew
Farmland birds depend on plentiful
supply of insects

The Game Conservancy Trust (GCT) has spent the past 30 years researching the reasons behind the dramatic decline of many of Britain's farmland bird species, and has identified that one of the most important causes behind these bird losses is the lack of suitable food for young chicks when they first hatch.

Farmland bird chicks need to grow quickly and to help them they need the rich sources of protein provided by a good supply of insects.

It is no coincidence that chick hatching is timed to coincide with the spring and summer flush of protein-rich insects, says the Trust.

A strong bird population is widely regarded as an important indicator of the health of the environment generally as many of their food sources are easily affected by pesticides and pollution.

Dr Nick Sotherton, Director of Research with the GCT added: "We have designed this ID guide specifically to help farmers identify the most important insects for farmland birds.

"It also shows the habitat that needs to be created to encourage these insects such as conservation headlands, beetle banks and wild bird cover. All these good habitat options are funded by the Government's Entry Level Scheme and the Trust can advise farmers on how to make the best use of their land for wildlife."

For copies of the free insect guide, or for advice on creating wildlife rich habitats, contact The Game Conservancy Trust on 01425 652381 or email lshervington@gct.org.uk

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