Category Archives: Farmland birds of Britain

Huge flock of corn buntings

Farmer Steve Bumstead has always considered wildlife when managing his farm, leaving aside field margins and not ploughing until after Christmas so birds can forage among the stubble.  He’s been rewarded this winter by an unprecedented number of corn buntings flocking on his land – no less than 700, which has been estimated as 4% of the entire corn bunting population in the UK. The unusual size of the flock is thought to be a consequence of the recent prolonged freezing weather.

The corn bunting has been in sharp decline as a consequence of modern farming practices, so conservation researchers will be investigating Steve’s Bedfordshire farm to try and learn exactly why it is so attractive for them.  RSPB Photo by Steve Round

Sugar beet and the Pink-footed Geese

At first light, the sound of huge flocks of honking Pink-footed Geese fills the north Norfolk sky as they fly in from their roosts on the Wash. Back in the 1960s, wintering Pink-foots in the UK numbered about 50,000. Nowadays there are over 200,000 and about half of them are found in Norfolk. Continue reading Sugar beet and the Pink-footed Geese

Cirl buntings doing well

Cirl buntings,  the UK’s rarest resident farmland bird, are a conservation success story amid the general decline of farmland birds. In Devon, farmers have been persuaded to leave just a corner of their fields and the population has risen from just 118 pairs in 1989 to more than 800 pairs today. “Conservationists say the success of the Cirl Bunting Project is “blazing a trail” for a new way of managing the landscape alongside farmers that brings hope for scores of other birds threatened by modern farming methods” Daily Telegraph

The return of the corncrake

Corncrakes used to flourish in England when hay meadows were scythed by hand.  But with the advent of modern machinery, they soon disappeared from English farmland, sliced to extinction as they sat tight on their nests.  The Daily Telegraph reports on the return of their characteristic “crake, crake” call, heard again after decades of silence, as the species is reintroduced to the large Nene Washes nature reserve in Cambridgeshire.
Daily Telegraph