Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ups And Downs

I followed up yesterday’s Yellowhammer sighting by going back for pictures on a quiet and sunny Sunday morning. Yellowhammers tend to be late breeders and it’s not unusual to see and hear them in full song in the latter half of the summer. I saw nothing of the female today, just the male sending out his song acrosss the landscape. His mate is obviously sat on a second brood of eggs not too far away from the various song posts.




The Yellowhammer is in poor shape in this part of Lancashire, part of a national and European decline caused by decreased survival rates and agricultural intensification. 

I can’t do better than quote from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website and include their graph that really says it all. 

“Yellowhammer abundance began to decline on farmland in the mid-1980s. The downward trend has continued to at least 2009, although with substantial increase in Scotland since 2003. The Breeding Bird Survey map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates that in Britain there is a sharp divide between decrease in the east and south and limited increase in the northwest; the population in Northern Ireland has also declined. 

Atlas surveys in 2008-11 indicate that range loss in Northern Ireland and western Britain, first noted in 1988-91, has continued strongly. The species, listed as green in 1996, has been red listed since 2002. There has been widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980.” 



Less than a mile away I found another male in song, this time from the top of a hawthorn bush. Like many species, Yellowhammers like to sing from a prominent post so as to project their voice far and wide. 


Not far away I found a few Jackdaws on typical territory - chimney pots. Yes, Jackdaws increasingly nest in disused chimney pots now that people have central heating rather than fires at the bottom of the chimney.  However not everyone likes Jackdaws around their property and a simple mesh can do the trick, but maybe with the addition of a “Keep Out” sign? 



“Jackdaws have increased in abundance since the 1960s and more recent Breeding Bird (BBS) Survey data suggest that the increase is continuing in all UK countries. The BBS map of change in relative density between 1994-96 and 2007-09 indicates an increase fairly uniform across the UK range, but with some minor decrease in eastern Scotland. Numbers across Europe have been broadly stable since 1980.

The graph for the Jackdaw is a mirror image of that for the Yellowhammer.

The morning was getting busy with hordes of wannabee Bradley Wiggins' crowding noisily across the carriageways so I made a beeline for the relative quiet of Gulf Lane. 

The farmer here is undertaking a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme until 2020/21. He receives Government money via Natural England to set-aside part of his land to enhance wildlife, in this case planting a large field with a wild bird seed mix.

We ringed 208 Linnets here in the winter of 2016/2017 and plan to start ringing very soon and then through to March/April 2018. Let’s hope that next winter there’s no more avian flu in the area to throw a spanner in our essential work to discover what id happening to this Red Listed species.

Wild Bird Mix



There’s a good mix of birds here now - a small flock of Linnets, a couple of Whitethroat, ten or twelve Tree Sparrow, plus a few Reed Bunting and Goldfinch. Next week Andy and I will go and cut a ride through the crop mix in readiness for our first ringing session of the new season.

And finally, in particular for my friend Anni in Texas, here's a Yellowhammer telling us all about his "little bit of bread and no cheese".

Back soon. Don't miss out.

Linking to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Stuart Price said...

Makes we realise what a great looking bird this is.

In east Asia we have Pine Buntings, which are supposedly very very closely related to Yellowhamers.

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: I am saddened to hear of the precipitous decline of the Yellowhammer. I had not realized this and when I was in the UK two years ago saw them reasonably frequently in Leicestershire. Obviously I just happened to be in an area where a local population was ostensibly doing well, although I have no point of comparison with prior densities. One way or another, we have screwed up all of the requirements that so many species need to survive, yet I am not sure we have learned anything from our constant messing with the natural order.

♥ Anni ♥ said...

I'm really happy you did a follow up on this beautiful bird, the yellowhammer!! But also, very saddened that there is such a dreadful news report of its decline in population in your area. I hope that in Scotland and other nearby lands they can find substantial protection and be able to reproduce without any threats of any kind.

I've not seen either the Jackdaw OR the Yellowhammer, but as you, with the Caracara, I'd love to see 'em both. Maybe a trip to England?

Thanks so much for the update, and for coming by to inform to with your invite.

Have a glorious week, birding. Hope the good weather holds out. Here, it's very hot and miserable right now...that's why I am home, sitting at the computer, with the A C blowing on my shoulders. lol

♥ Anni ♥ said...

ps...beautiful songster ...the video is priceless.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos, Phil, and the video is fantastic! Reminds me of a male canary! What a beautiful song the Yellowhammer has!

Prunella Pepperpot said...

Sadly I don't think I've ever seen a Yellowhammer. It is a very sad state of affairs when our bird populations decline.
Have a lovely Sunday Phil and thank you for the bird song :)

Mary Cromer said...

How very unfortunate the decline news is of such a beautiful bird as the Yellowhammer. It just seems impossible to bring numbers back up for those that have such a way to make it with all of the changes that mankind throws at them. They really are quite handsome and beautiful. Your first few images show a very gentle looking bird too~

Breathtaking said...

Good morning Phil!:) More lovely images of the Yellowhammer, and thank you for including the video clip of it's distinctive song. For a moment I thought I heard a Chaffinch replying. It is so sad when beautiful species of birds decline in numbers. The set aside fields are a good idea but many more are needed to begin the process of recuperation.

To answer your question,...the owls are 600 kilometres away from where I live!!!:=) Thanks for the link though.:)

Patrycja P. said...

I like Yellowhammers, they are very interesting birds. In Poland, this species are still very common, but our population is also in decline.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm not familiar with Yellowhammers - they are beautiful birds. I see online that they are the state bird of Alabama, but I don't think I've see one.

Photo Cache said...

I have not heard of yellowhammers before, but what a beautifully colored bird.

Worth a Thousand Words

Fun60 said...

Lots of great photos photos of the beautiful yellowhammer.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I came, I admired all the birds, I felt terrible about the decline of the beautiful yellowhammer. Then I left to go Google Bradley whatever his name was (excuse me, Sir Bradley Whatever) Google tells me and almost forgot to come back to comment. Sorry you had to put up with a zillion bicycle racers (whenever we run into them it always seems like at least that many). They never seem to be having much fun. Maybe they think that about birders and nature walkers.

Anyway, thanks for the interesting post and love,y pictures as always. There is nothing really wrong with the jackdaw, but the yellowhammer is so sweet..... Why is it that the birds we least admire always seem to thrive under any conditions at all, while human activities hurt the others....

Erica Sta said...

Lovely birds! I enjoyed this Post again for the Tuesday theme IMAGE-IN-ING.

NC Sue said...

What we call a goldfinch on this side of the pond looks nothing like yours. Same thing with robins. And your squirrels are quite different in appearance as well. Interesting huh?
Thanks for sharing at

Bill Nicholls said...

Can't remember seeing a Yellowhammer, have to watch out for them

Findlay Wilde said...

Fantastic pictures as always. We have a few Yellow Hammers in North Wales at my Grandma's but rarely see them in Cheshire.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) When I saw your thumbnail picture, I realized I had overlooked your Jackdaw images, and it's a shame because they are not only good, but reminded me of what beautiful birds they really are. Their light blue coloured eyes and dark plumage is really attractive, and it's good to know they are doing so well. They are smart birds, so perhaps would be able to read a KEEP OUT sign!:=)

A Colorful World said...

The yellowhammer is such a wonderful bird. I hate it's on the decline. That interesting jackdaw is on the rise. It's such a shame populations can't stay on track or increase with time for all birds! Loved hearing his pretty song!

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, Phil, it's so sad. Your yellowhammers and our (now identified by a friend) Northern Flickers, as well as many species around the world...and soon, humanity. Extinctions are rampant, and I won't even go into the plight of Canada's Inuit people with the melting of the polar icecap, because global warming affects all of us, doesn't it? All the best to both of you, and keep on birding! —K

Liz said...

Beautiful series of images, Phil!

Andrea said...

Hi Phil, i haven't been to your blogs for quite sometime. How are you! It looks like there are plenty of beautiful birds there too, i love that flinch color, very joyful. However the other seem to be feeling cold, haha!

bettyl-NZ said...

It's interesting to see that many of your birds have been introduced to New Zealand some time in the past. I see yellowhammers and goldfinches around my house a lot. But, I have to say that, before I learned its name, I called the yellowhammer a 'spanary' since it looked like a cross between a sparrow and a canary :)

phann son said...

Sadly I don't think I've ever seen a Yellowhammer. It is a very sad state of affairs when our bird populations decline.


Lowcarb team member said...

Oh so good to see more about the yellowhammer, it's such a beautiful bird.
Although it is very sad to read about its decline, such a shame.

All the best Jan

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