Corn Bunting – 2009

Former breeding resident. Now a scarce visitor

The Corn Bunting breeds across the middle latitudes of the south west Palearctic. Changing agricultural practices resulted in an 87 % decrease in the UK population between 1967 and 2006 and a 61% decrease across Europe between 1980 and 2005.

The Corn Bunting was a common breeding resident in coastal areas of Pembrokeshire up to the late 19th century. Writing in 1894 Murray Mathew considered them to be local inasmuch as he had never seen one more than five miles from the coast and his correspondants considered them to be plentiful at Pembroke and very abundant in the neighbourhood of Tenby. Their distribution coincided with the main barley growing area of that time. Bertram Lloyd (1939) found a similar coastal distribution in the 1920’s, his diary entries giving some idea of density by noting “all along the cliff hinterland from St Govan’s to Linney , I heard about 10 singing here on the 26th July 1927”. By the 1930’s Lloyd thought they might be decreasing, particularly in the north of the county, and by 1957 Ronald Lockley noted that they had become local and were rapidly decreasing. At this time he also noted that many farms had turned from tillage for cereal production to pasture for milk production. This conversion continued, resulting in the predominant dairy farming of today, with the resultant creation of habitat unsuitable for Corn Buntings.        

Breeding Corn Buntings probably disappeared after 1963 when there was still enough activity to produce winter flocks of up to 30 birds in the Gelliswick to South Hook area. Thereafter the species became so rare that individual occurrences were considered worthy of putting on record, viz: singles in 1967, 1968, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1993, two in 1965, 1977, 1979, 1992, three in 1980 and four in 1985. The last Corn Bunting to be recorded in Pembrokeshire was at Ramsey on the 26th August 1993.

It is interesting that a lone bird that frequented the Marloes peninsula from 1977 to 1981 regularly sang like a Yellowhammer. This seems to have been an individual development for single birds at Gilfach Cross in May 1987 and at Llanycefn in May 1992 sang normally.

LLOYD. B. 1929-1939 Diaries, National Museum of Wales.

LOCKLEY. R. M. (1957). Pembrokeshire, Robert Hale, London.

More about the Corn Bunting in Pembrokeshire

Corn Bunting – 1994

Former breeding resident. Now a scarce visitor

Resident but local according to Mathew (1894), and “never seen far from the coast”. Resident but very local according to Lockley etal. (1949), “being confined principally to the St David’s area, Dale peninsula and Castle Martin districts” and “probably decreasing”. They also note that it had bred at Ramsey. Lockley (1957) stated that it had by then become very local and was decreasing rapidly. Sharrock (1976) considered that the Corn Bunting started to decline in Wales from about 1920.

Breeding probably ceased in Pembrokeshire shortly after 1963, when 30 birds were seen in suitable habitat in the Hakin/Herbrandston area. Since then, one or two have been recorded in just 16 years, some of them males which held territory but apparently failed to find mates. Single males were found in only two years of the 1984-1988 Breeding Birds Survey, with no evidence of breeding. One which inhabited the Marloes peninsula from 1977 to 1981 resorted to singing like a Yellowhammer, no doubt misleading many of those who passed by.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LOCKLEY, R.M. 1957. Pembrokeshire. London, Robert Hale.

More about the Corn Bunting in Pembrokeshire

Corn Bunting – 1894

Emberiza miliaria

Resident, but local, and never seen far from the coast. Is, perhaps, more plentiful immediately around St. David’s than anywhere else in the county. We have never met with it more than five miles inland. Mr. James Tracy states that it is plentiful at Pembroke all the year round. Mr. Dix writes: “As I was driving over the mountains to Narberth last February, I counted five on one bush, and saw at least a dozen others.” Mr. E. W. H. Blagg tells us that he found the Corn Bunting very abundant in the neighbourhood of Tenby.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Corn Bunting in Pembrokeshire

Corn Bunting

Former breeding resident. Now a scarce visitor

Corn Bunting – 2009

Former breeding resident. Now a scarce visitor The Corn Bunting breeds across the middle latitudes of the south west Palearctic. Changing agricultural practices resulted in an 87 % decrease in the UK population between 1967 and 2006 and a 61% decrease across Europe between 1980 and 2005. The Corn Bunting was a common breeding resident […]

Corn Bunting – 1994

Former breeding resident. Now a scarce visitor Resident but local according to Mathew (1894), and “never seen far from the coast”. Resident but very local according to Lockley etal. (1949), “being confined principally to the St David’s area, Dale peninsula and Castle Martin districts” and “probably decreasing”. They also note that it had bred at Ramsey. Lockley […]

Corn Bunting – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Corn Bunting – 1894

Emberiza miliaria Resident, but local, and never seen far from the coast. Is, perhaps, more plentiful immediately around St. David’s than anywhere else in the county. We have never met with it more than five miles inland. Mr. James Tracy states that it is plentiful at Pembroke all the year round. Mr. Dix writes: “As I was driving over the mountains […]