Birding

Shy but perky

And a delight to see as it tells you so much about this landscape.

The Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra) is not a bird that will cause many walkers or even nature lovers to stop in their tracks, but we can never resist stopping to observe and photograph. Partly because it perches so photogenically, but mostly because this is a bird that has almost disappeared from English landscapes thanks to our modern day industrial style approach to farming.

DSCN3635

The steep decline was in the 1970s/1980s, with some areas seeing local extinctions. The decline has slowed in recent years, but it still continues and consequently this is bird rarely seen in England. Scotland is doing a little bit better, and the decline is slowly being reversed in some areas but overall the UK population has decreased by more than 50% since the 1970s. Corn Buntings (Trigueirão in Portuguese) are though still common here in Portugal, and also Spain. As Matt Merritt, a bird-watching expert recently wrote to see them so regularly and in such large numbers is wonderful, and also ‘evidence of a landscape that still has room for the marginal, specialist species that are fast disappearing elsewhere.’

One of the collective nouns for Corn Buntings is a decoration, and I thought that perfect for these group shots. Another fact I was delighted to discover is that in the UK the Corn Bunting is so sedentary (ie not migratory) that males who are just 30km apart sing with different ‘dialects’. I wonder if that is also true in Portugal? Not sure I can tell from these two Portuguese recordings on the superb Xeno-Canto website!

What do you think? I have sent a note to the recordist Peter Boesman to see if he has noticed Corn Bunting dialects, and will keep you posted on his response.

Gathering of Corn Buntings

PS My title is inspired by “A Trace of Wings” from Edwin Morgan’s Themes on a Variation (1988) and Collected Poems.

About BeckyB

When in Portugal you will find me walking, cooking, photographing, reading and of course blogging. In England it is pretty much the same but with the addition of gardening and lots of volunteering!

21 comments on “Shy but perky

  1. We have cirl buntings in our local valley park, but I don’t think I’ve seen one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have only ever seen one at a time. That photo of a group of them was quite eye-opening.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know birds of the same species sang in different “dialects”. I must take more notice of our own local birds and see if there is a difference. Lovely photo of your little bird.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aren’t they fabulous? Now I am wondering what the little brown birds are that come into my garden. I thought they were house or tree sparrows, but they do look a lot like these fellas. Some of the LBBs are difficult to tell apart.

    Liked by 2 people

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