Your Bird­ing Month

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Five birds to find in­clude Spot­ted Flycatcher, Barn Owl and Wood Sand­piper

NOT A BIRD ON most UK bird­ers’ ev­ery­day radar, the Cirl Bunting is one of our most ge­o­graph­i­cally re­stricted small birds. The en­tire breed­ing pop­u­la­tion (of fewer than 900 pairs) is in the south-west of Eng­land, mainly in coastal south Devon. It is a fa­mil­iar bird across south­ern Europe, and used to be dis­trib­uted, and in­deed com­mon, across most of south­ern Eng­land. But, largely ow­ing to changes to farm­ing prac­tice (and a con­se­quent loss of food sources and nest­ing sites), the breed­ing con­tracted to the county of Devon. This breed­ing pop­u­la­tion num­bered about 450 pairs in 1998 and, ow­ing to con­certed ef­forts to change farm­ing meth­ods as well as a rein­tro­duc­tion scheme in Corn­wall, the num­ber of nest­ing pairs has now dou­bled. The RSPB’S Cirl Bunting Pro­ject has a breed­ing pop­u­la­tion of greater than 1,000 pairs by 2020 as one of its key tar­gets. They are sim­i­lar to Yel­lowham­mers, but the males have strik­ing, black and yel­low faces, in­clud­ing a black throat, there is a green breast band and the rump is green (not ch­est­nut). Fe­males are like toned down ver­sions of males. The song is a bit like a Yel­lowham­mer who for­got that it didn’t want any cheese, re­sem­bling the rat­tling song of the Lesser Whitethroat. And the calls are soft, high-pitched notes.

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