British wildlife recordings

Emberiza cirlus : Cirl Bunting - Emberizidae

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  • Shelf mark

    W1CDR0001391 BD17

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  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Bridford, Devon: OS Grid Reference(281500,86500)

  • Recordist

    Shove, Lawrence

  • Species

    Cirl Bunting, Emberiza cirlus

  • Description

    The song of the cirl Bunting, recorded at Bridford, Devon. The cirl bunting is a very uncommon and localised bird in Britain, being restricted to the south-west of England and especially around the coastline of south Devon. In addition to its rarity, it is quite a secretive bird and when not feeding on or near the ground, often tends to skulk in trees and bushes. The best time to see cirl buntings is during spring and summer when the handsome males select a prominent position from which to deliver their song. It consists of a dry rattle of a single repeated note that is reminiscent of a yellowhammer without the final high-pitched note. The cirl bunting is a bird of grassland, arable fields, and bushy slopes that are surrounded by hedges and banks. Outside the breeding season they form mixed-species flocks with other buntings, finches, and sparrows, and can be located feeding in larger fields that retain stubble or grow winter fodder crops. Although never widespread, the cirl bunting was much more common in southern Britain a hundred years ago, and its decline is largely as a result of the loss of weedy stubble-fields that provide its food throughout winter. Careful conservation measures have slowly reversed a dramatic decline and there are now around 450 pairs breeding in Britain.

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