The Bunting Bulletin - CB bulletin 2010 by hjkuiw354

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									                                         The Bunting Bulletin
                                                                                                                         2010
                                            Fat bird of the barley needs your help!

                                                                                 The corn bunting was once a common
                                                                                 sight across the Scottish lowlands but is
                                                                                 now rapidly disappearing.

                                                                                 In collaboration with RSPB Scotland,
                                                                                 farmers in Aberdeenshire,
                                                                                 Inverness-shire, Fife and Tayside have
                                                                                 been trialling management options that
                                                                                 can benefit corn buntings.

                                                                                 These options aim to deliver the three
                                                                                 key requirements;

                                                                                 1.     Winter seed food
                                                                                 2.     Summer insect food
                                                                                 3.     Safe nesting areas

                                  Andrew Peddie farms land in the East Neuk of Fife and has been managing habitats
                                  to help corn buntings since 2001.

                                   'It’s been interesting and rewarding to see the corn bunting population increase on the
                                   farm. Monitoring has shown that some of the options managed are helping the buntings,
                                   whilst having no negative impact on my farming system. Perhaps if sympathetic
                                   management was spread over a wider area, species like the corn bunting may be able to
                                   co-exist with modern farming'

                                                                                  RSPB monitoring has shown that
RSPB Scotland
                                                                                  extensive management of some
East Regional Office
10 Albyn Terrace                                                                  grassland, cereals and unharvested
Aberdeen                                                                          crops can have the potential to
AB10 1YP                                                                          stabilise populations and reverse
Tel 01224 624824                                                                  declines.
Fax 01224 626234                                                                  However, such habitats are only being
Email: esro@rspb.org.uk
                                                                                  managed within a fraction of the
www.rspb.org.uk/scotland                                                          known corn bunting range.



The Royal Society for the
Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a                      For more information please contact
registered charity: England and
Wales no. 207076, Scotland no.
                                       Hywel Maggs on 01224 624824 or email: hywel.maggs@rspb.org.uk
SC037654
                         The right options deliver the right results

The corn bunting is one of the fastest declining birds in                                                                  Corn Bunting population trends 2003 - 2009
                                                                                                                  (n=63 farms in Aberdeenshire, Angus, Fife, Moray and Inverness-shire)
Scotland.
                                                                                                            1.8

                                                                                                            1.6
Research has shown that these declines are linked to
                                                                                                            1.4




                                                                                2
changing agricultural practices that have affected




                                                                                Territorial males per 1km
                                                                                                            1.2
winter food supply and productivity.
                                                                                                             1

                                                                                                            0.8
RSPB Scotland have been working with over seventy
                                                                                                            0.6
farmers in east Scotland. This work entails researching
                                                                                                            0.4          Farmland Bird Lifeline - increase (statistically significant)
factors affecting corn buntings, trialling practical                                                                     Rural Stewardship Scheme - slight decline (not statistically significant)
                                                                                                            0.2
options and disseminating what we learn through                                                                          Not in a scheme - decline (statistically significant)
                                                                                                             0
advisory effort.                                                                                                  2003                                 Year                                 2009



If the fortunes of this species are to be turned around,                        The results from an RSPB monitoring project
we need to see more habitats created over a wider area.                         shows that some Rural Stewardship Scheme
                                                                                (RSS) management has helped corn buntings.

        Map of eastern Scotland Corn Bunting range                              On monitored RSS farms, corn bunting
    Each square indicates presence and red squares show RSPB project areas.
     Detailed information for these project areas is available and may assist
                                                                                populations remained stable. On farms that
                 applications to Rural Development Contracts.                   were not in a scheme, populations declined.

                NH                           NJ                           NK    An RSPB scheme called Farmland Bird Lifeline
7
                                                                                specifically targets corn buntings. Where this
6
                                                                                scheme has been running, populations have
5                                                                               increased. This work involves refining the most
4                                                                               important options and trialling some new ones.
3                                                                               Monitoring has shown that when the best
                                                                                ‘bundle’ of options are deployed, corn bunting
2
                                                                                populations may increase.
1

0                                                                               Monitoring from the most recent phase of the
9                                                                               project shows a 48% increase in the number of
8
                                                                                singing males on 21 farms, between 2006 and
                NN                                              NO              2009.
7

6                                                                               Some regional differences have been identified
5                                                                               as part of this project . In Fife and Angus, the
4                                                                               provision of seed bearing, unharvested crops for
                                                                                both nesting and winter food have been most
3
                                                                                important. In Grampian, late mown grass is a
2
                                                                                key option to provide safe nesting habitat.
1

0                                                                               The options included in this work are available
                NS                                              NT              in the Corn Bunting Package as part of Rural
       8    9        0   1   2   3   4   5    6    7   8    9    0    1         Development Contracts— Rural Priorities.


2
  Seeds, insects and safe nest sites in the right places

  The corn bunting is a seed eating bird of lowland arable and mixed farmland.

                                Providing seed
                                food throughout
                                the winter and
                                early spring is
                                key to improving
                                adult survival
                                rates. This can be
                                achieved by
managing annually sown, grain rich unharvested
crops and retaining over winter cereal stubble.

                      Chicks are fed on insects
                      collected from rough
                      grassland, or low input
                      cereals. There are various
                      options that can deliver
                      such habitats such as grass
                      margins, conservation
                      headlands and species rich
                      grassland.

                                  They nest later
                                  than other
                                  farmland birds
                                  and use dense
                                  vegetation such
                                  as cereal crops
                                  and grass
                                  silage.

Nests are built on the ground and need to remain
undisturbed into late July/August. Late mown
grass for Corn Buntings and clover leys provide
safe nesting habitat . Undersown or extensively
managed cereals and large blocks of unharvested
crops also offer safe nesting opportunities.


These options need to be positioned within open      The BIG THREE need to be delivered when
landscapes and alongside features such as            managing for Corn Buntings
isolated groups of trees, short hedges or over
head telegraph wires. These offer suitable song      1.   Winter seed food
posts next to potential breeding sites, whilst       2.   Summer insect food
providing important refuge cover from predators.     3.   Safe nesting areas

                                                                                               3
            Money is available to help the corn bunting
Farmers can get paid to manage land to benefit corn buntings through Rural Development Contracts (RDCs).
This money may be accessed through the non competitive Land Managers Options or through
submitting an application to Rural Priorities. The key options are;

•     Management of mown grassland for corn
      buntings (particularly in Grampian for safe
      nesting habitat)
•     Biodiversity cropping on in-bye (for safe nesting
      and summer insects)




•     Management of conservation headlands (for
      summer insects)                                          John Moir farms land in Buchan and has been
•     Management of grass margins and beetlebanks in           working with RSPB Farmland Bird Officer,
      arable fields (for summer insects)                       Hywel Maggs to help corn buntings on his farm.

                                                               ‘’I have been managing environmental options
                                                               alongside my conventional farming activities since
                                                               schemes became more widely available. After several
                                                               successful applications to RSS and RDCs, I now
                                                               consider the income from this work an important part
                                                               of my farm business. The fact that species in need of
                                                               help are benefiting from my actions makes it a win-win
•     Wild bird seed mix/unharvested crop                      situation.’’
      (particularly in Fife and Angus for safe nesting,
      summer insects and winter seed)                          A recent study in Aberdeenshire and Angus
•     Retention of winter stubbles (for winter seed)           showed an 83% decline in singing males between
                                                               1989 and 2007. Many of the areas included in this
                                                               study no longer hold any corn buntings.

                                                               If the decline of the corn bunting is to be halted,
                                                               there needs to be more beneficial habitats
                                                               targeted across a wider area of the range.

                                                               This action is urgently needed and could possibly
If you would like to discuss any of the items raised in this   be achieved by further targeting RDCs or in the
newsletter please contact Hywel Maggs on 01224 624824.         form of a specific large-scale corn bunting project.



                                                Acknowledgements for RSPB project work

Thank you to all of the farmers and landowners, SGRPID, SAC, Dr Adam Watson, Prof. Chris Smout
for their continued support and involvement with projects. Thank you to SNH for providing financial
support.
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