As part of a scheme to encourage and support cirl buntings in Cockington, we are bringing a 17 acre semi-improved grass field back into arable rotation and you may notice a difference in the landscape of the Country Park. The field will be managed on rotation under organic arable cropping (four years arable followed by three years grass). Initially, we will sow the field with spring barley that will provide ideal habitat (including winter stubble) for cirl buntings and other farmland birds (e.g. skylarks and yellowhammers). Through the scheme the Trust aims to double the cirl bunting population in Cockington over the next ten years.
Our scheme at Cockington has been developed in consultation with RSPB and Natural England. The Trust has already delivered notable benefits for cirl buntings and farmland birds through management of land at Gillard Road Nature Reserve near Berry Head.
The cirl bunting is a rare and endangered species that has declined dramatically due to loss of habitat and traditional farming practices. It is now restricted to South Devon where carefully targeted habitat improvements (implemented by many local farmers with support from specialist advisors), has helped increase the cirl bunting population from only 118 pairs in 1989 to over 1,000 pairs by 2019.
Watch this space and hopefully we will have lots to share with you soon!
Image: cirl bunting – Mike Langman