Yellowhammers: Returning from a great break in Ireland, where we never got wet in 16 days (is this some sort of record?), I’m restarting the blog with these gorgeous Yellowhammers, doing what they classically do- singing from the top of a low bush, typically a Gorse bush as you can see. We heard the brightly coloured male singing its rhythmic song- “a little bit of bread and no cheese”, while the camouflaged female sat nearby in a small tree (see photo). They were unusually numerous on an RSPB site in Dumfries, having sadly declined in many areas, as scrubland is replaced by intensive farming or development. Conditions: Cloud and sunny intervals. Temperature: Max 20, Min 11 C.
Yellowhammer- these beautiful members of the bunting family, like many birds that rely heavily on farmland seeds and stubble-fields, are declining so much they are now on the red (for danger) list. Farmers who leave hedges to fruit and seed, and some field margins with seeding wild flowers, can help. Yellowhammers nest near or on the ground, in dense vegetation, and need singing posts like trees or bushes from which to call their ‘little-bit-of-bread-and-no-cheese’ refrain. We watched these males near the Chesterfield canal- wonderfully bright. Conditions: Sunny intervals turning stormy. Temperature: Max 18- Min 12C.
Yellowhammers on the outskirts of Sheffield- I have covered these birds at RSPB Old Moor earlier in the year, but was delighted to watch them feeding (grain, on the ground, they don’t like feeders) in west Sheffield. These were males- the females are duller, though both, being buntings, have stripey brown backs and strong beaks able to crush seeds. Called ‘Yellow Bird of the Gorse’ (Melyn yr Eithrin) in Wales, they can be seen in fields, woodland edges, or sitting up on the tops of gorse bushes, singing. They have declined 50% in 25 years and are now threatened, and on the Red List. They are stunning. Increasing the sowing of flowers on field margins, and hedge-planting may help them rebuild their numbers. Conditions: Cool, cloudy and dry. Temperature: Max 13- Min 9c.