Distribution Britain 29 (-83.2%) Ireland 0
Numbers breeding: Britain 380 RBBP Ireland 0
European status: 1,600,000 (0% in Britain and Ireland)
British population trend: increasing after severe decline
How likely are you to record it? 6 squares (0.1%) Ranked 160=
To most bird watchers the Cirl Bunting is a rare bird restricted to part of South Devon but this was not the case a hundred years ago when it was common throughout the counties south of the Thames, local in the Midlands and breeding on parts of some counties north to North Wales and even in Yorkshire. There may have been as many as 10,000 breeding pairs. The collapse southwards began in about 1930 and by the first Breeding Atlas they were very patchy and recorded from 173 10-km squares and, by the second, 29! There were probably 200 pairs, or fewer, in 1982 and less than 150 in 1989. Following RSPB research, special measures were taken with farmers encouraged, through stewardship schemes, to provide weed rich stubbles in the core area of South Devon. This has small fields, mixed farming and very good hedges. The population has responded immediately and was estimated at 380 pairs in 1997. The species now seems safe in its refuge area but will it be able to expand? Possibly.
Evans, A. 1997 British Birds: 90, 267-282.
UKBAP MAFF RSPB & English Nature.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead