Farmers’ bird efforts save corn bunting

Corn bunting Miliaria calandra, February
Corn bunting Miliaria calandra, February

Angus farmers have been thanked at a special event by the RSPB Scotland for their efforts to save a Scottish bird from extinction.

Twenty farmers were welcomed to the Meadowbank Inn in Arbroath to celebrate the success of the Angus Corn Bunting Recovery project.

The corn bunting was once widespread but following rapid declines there have been several local extinctions during the last decade and now just 800 or so pairs remain in Scotland. These are mostly in east Scotland which is home to 95% of Scotland’s corn buntings.

Farmers in Angus have taken huge steps towards changing the fortunes of these iconic birds. By next year, thanks to support from additional farmers, all corn buntings in Angus will have access to what’s known as the ‘big three’ – safe nesting places, insect-rich summer foraging habitats and winter seed food.

The event also thanked nine volunteers who have helped with corn bunting surveys in Angus and Fife.

Yvonne Stephan, RSPB Scotland’s Corn Bunting Officer, said: “This celebration event recognises the efforts made by farmers to improve the future of corn buntings in Angus. We’ve still got a long way to go before the corn bunting’s future is secure, but the management that is currently under way is critical to their survival and it’s important to shout about this and say thank you.”

Gary Bruce, farm manager for P.J. Stirling Farms, added: “It was terrific news when we were told that corn buntings had returned to Windyhills Farm. We, as a farm, take our responsibility to caring for and protecting the environment very seriously. That’s why from 2007 we have planted a sward of wildflower mix along a scenic 4km footpath on our land.

“Obviously with our wild bird cover and working alongside RSPB Scotland in the Angus Corn Bunting Recovery Project we have and will continue to create the perfect habitat to encourage corn buntings to return year after year. We are pleased our farm is a haven for “twitchers” and birdwatchers, who come spot rare species in and around our farm.”

The Corn Bunting Recovery Project in Angus has been supported by the Angus Environmental Trust through ENTRUST’s Landfill Communities Fund.