RARE birds deemed among the most at risk in the UK are flourishing on a North Yorkshire estate.

The 2020 Big Farmland Bird Count (BFBC) has identified 45 species of bird on Swinton Estate near Masham - and more than a third of them are on the Red or Amber Lists as a conservation concern.

Organised by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the BFBC was launched in 2014 to highlight the beneficial work undertaken by farmers and gamekeepers nationwide to help reverse the decline in farmland birds.

This year’s BFBC, which took place in February, saw a record number of contributors, including 11 participants on Swinton Estate, who each spent 30 minutes spotting bird species across the parkland, agricultural land and heather moorland.

In summary, 45 different species of bird were identified on the 20,000-acre Estate: a total number of 461 birds.

Of the 461 birds, 132 birds were listed on the Red List - meaning they are globally threatened - and seven per cent, 32 birds were on the Amber List.

Red List species spotted at Swinton included curlew, fieldfare, hen harrier, house sparrow, herring gull, lapwing, skylark, song thrush and woodcock.

Mark Cunliffe-Lister, proprietor of Swinton Estate, said: “The Estate has participated in the BFBC count for the last two years and is seeing a growth in Red and Amber List species.

Last year, of the total birds seen on the estate, 20 per cent were on the Red List - this has increased to 29 per cent.

"We have been fortunate to observe significant increases in curlew, hen harrier and skylarks on our heather moorland where we undertake routine habitat management, which provides nesting and feeding sites for these ground nesting birds.”