Sunday, January 03, 2010

ticky tick tick - phew !

Lapland Bunting in flight

I have just returned from spending New Year at Buckton, the weather has been really hard, speaking to a local farmer there has been snow on the ground for 15 days and he can only remember it being worse in 1963 when the frozen spell lasted 7 weeks.

The effect on birdlife could be seen throughout the site with fluffed up Fieldfares just sitting motionless in bare fields or being forced to eat sloe berries, displaced Woodcocks lurking in sparse bits of cover and a Water Rail trying to feed and hide at the same time on the only bit of unfrozen water on the site - a patch tick and totally out of habitat.

But the most amazing spectacle was the super abundance of farmland passerines on two snow free cliff top stubble fields, over 1000 birds including 200 Corn Bunting - this representing probably the largest single flock in Yorkshire in the past ten years. Also here were 20 Lapland Buntings, 30 Snow Buntings, 50 Linnet and over 700 Skylark. An adjacent weedy field corner held 40 Reed Buntings, 30 Yellowhammers, another 20 Linnets and 22 Grey Partridge.

Despite the stark severity of the situation it would be much worse if these two fields had been ploughed in like many others in the wider area, instead the fields on these two farms are being managed through agri-environment schemes to provide winter feeding for birds, these fields are priceless and I hope my new year gifts to the farmers show my appreciation for their efforts to help birds on their farms. In fact, due to targeted conservation action by a partnership of local birders, Natural England and the RSPB the wider Flamborough area is now incredibly important for declining farmland birds and their future recovery.

With the weather looking to get worse this coming week then if they are forced to move on from the Yorkshire coast I hope they manage to find another bird friendly patch of farmland habitat -afterall, their survival depends upon it.

No comments: