Monday, January 30, 2017

A Boost For Corbu

Readers of Another Bird Blog will recollect that the farmland Corn Bunting pops up now and again in my posts.

But the shorthand of “CORBU” is now a long lost entry in notebooks of recent years as the Corn Bunting is a species which has all but disappeared from local farmland in the breeding season. The sound of those “jangling keys” is becoming a distant memory of the spring and summer.

Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting

We still get winter flocks but we do not know for sure where they come from as they are a difficult species to monitor and catch for ringing purposes. I saw a flock of 60+ just yesterday over Rawcliffe Moss way in what is the usual time of January to March, but otherwise the species is now simply very uncommon and bordering on seasonally rare. 

Fortunately there are people who in a small way are trying to redress the balance in favour of the Corn Bunting, and every little helps, especially if it inspires others to follow suit. I read in late December of Scotland’s Corn Buntings receiving a boost. 

A number of farmers in Angus and Fife and Angus deployed winter seed and other management on a number of farms and estates as part of a Corn Bunting Recovery Project. Survey work in the earlier part of 2016 year saw the highest increase in Corn Bunting numbers in Fife in any single year since monitoring began: between 2015 and 2016, the number of territories increased by 18 per cent, from 62 to 73 on participating farms. 

Birds also recolonised areas where they hadn’t been seen in years. This first local range expansion in the East Neuk area of Fife is very encouraging and gives hope that the species may start to spread once again. The expansion came after the East Neuk Estates Group, comprised of six estates, made a collective commitment to support the recovery of the local Corn Bunting population, doubling the area of wild bird seed mix plots in an instant. 

Edward Baxter, a member of the East Neuk Estates Group, was delighted to hear the news. He said: “This year’s large increase in Corn Bunting numbers and the range expansion shows the positive effect of collaboration over a wider area through the involvement of large estates.” 

Corn Bunting

Corn Buntings in Angus can also look forward to a good 2017 as all the birds in that county will have access to the ‘Big Three’: safe nesting spaces, winter seed food and summer insect food for the chicks within one mile of their breeding territories from next year onwards. 

Neil McEwan is the latest farmer to join the Corn Bunting Recovery Project in Angus. He said: “We are very happy to start working alongside the RSPB Scotland and other local farmers by filling in the last food gap for Corn Bunting in Angus. These birds were in rapid decrease in the area but thanks to all the Corn Bunting management in the region we have seen them stabilise.” 

This small piece of good news comes after decades of dramatic declines for the UK Corn Bunting population. In Eastern Scotland numbers fell by 83 per cent between 1989 and 2007, earning them the unfortunate accolade of being one of the fastest declining birds in Scotland. Farmers and land managers are using a combination of agri-environment scheme options, voluntary action and upgraded greening measures to help make the future of the Scottish Corn Bunting more secure. 

A total of 34 farms as well as the East Neuk Estates Group are currently involved in the Corn Bunting Recovery Project in two of the last Corn Bunting strongholds.
Corn Bunting

The work of farmers, land managers and estates was recognised when they were nominated and then shortlisted for the Nature of Scotland awards in the highly competitive Food and Farming category and earlier in 2016, one of the Corn Bunting farmers in Fife won the Marks and Spencer Farming for the Future award. 

So a tiny bit of good news for the Corn Bunting. If only our local Lancashire farmers would do something for their Corn Buntings. 

In local news. There’s been another outbreak of Avian Flu at a business “linked” to the first. So much for the "exclusion zones".

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


David Gascoigne said...

Bravo for all those farmers who do their bit to help this species to reclaim its breeding territories. Let's hope that a few enlightened landowners in your area follow suit, Phil.

David Gascoigne said...

I must confess that when I first saw the title I thought that you had named a local isle Corbu in memory of Corfu, given your great affection for Greece!

Fun60 said...

Now that it's proved effective let's hope others will follow their example.

Bill Nicholls said...

Looks like it has a visious looking beak.

colleen said...

Sometimes I feel like shouting out like that!

Mary Cromer said...

Sounds like some good news for the Corn Buntings and I love any bird that has Bunting in it's name...I wouldn't want a nip from them though. Hope you are doing well. I am going to peek at some older posts too~

Lowcarb team member said...

Well done to these farmers - perhaps more will follow suit?

All the best Jan

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm not familiar with the bird but like the photos and info

Linda said...

What a beautiful bird!

Stuart Price said...

I heard one or two last time I went back in spring (a couple of years ago), they haven't totally disappeared............

When I saw the title of this post I thought 'Corbu' was a weird pet name for the current leader of the opposition..............

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil! Kudos to the farmers. I always love hearing good news about any bird and their habitat. The Corn Bunting is a beauty. Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day and week ahead!

Findlay Wilde said...

A fantastic bird, let's hope more farms make the changes needed

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