Jan 7th   Leave a comment

The buntings are back in the stubbles just north of Kingsbarns. If you walk out of Kingsbarns on the main road towards St Andrews and then turn right down the green lane after the first stubble field you get to several more stubble fields to the northwest of the golf course. And this is where they are. An amazing 140 corn buntings. They were feeding in a couple of smaller flocks in the stubble but occasionally flying up to perch all together at the top of the large trees in the garden of Sandyhill house. Then they could be counted fairly easily – one count of 130 and another later of 140. There was a count yesterday of 129, so we can be fairly confident that there are a lot there. We think there are about 200 active territories in the east of Fife – so perhaps 500 adults breeding. Then there will be the juveniles produced last year – three or four per pair if they did well last summer (and I think they did). So another 800 birds at most. Some will have died in the intervening 6 months – if we work on an average annual juvenile survival rate in the first year of 30%, then we would have 520 left, and for adults an average annual survival rate of 60%, then we would have 400 left. So, a total population of 920 corn buntings (and I think this is an overestimate and the result of a very approximate back of the envelope calculation…) making todays flock at Kingsbarns 15% of the population! There were also between 60-100 yellowhammers, 45 tree sparrows and at least 15 reed buntings. They were all mobile but on occasions they were all in the same small area making a very impressive flock.

Yellowhammer (JA)

Posted January 7, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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