Fife Council has been working with local communities to identify areas of green space to designate as feeding sites for the corn bunting. A site has now been agreed for St Monans, running along part of the coastal path at The Braes. Preparation work has already started.
The corn bunting was once widespread in the British Isles, but large declines led to extinction in Ireland, an end to regular breeding in Wales and made the corn bunting one of the fastest declining birds in England and Scotland. 95% of Scotland’s corn buntings are found in eastern Scotland, but even in their last strongholds, they declined by 83% between 1989 and 2007.
The combination of a late breeding season, a preference for nesting in growing crops and the dependence on the availability of cereal seeds over the winter and large insects in summer, makes corn buntings especially vulnerable to modern agricultural practices. However, Fife Council, local farmers and land managers have shown an outstanding commitment to change the fortunes of these iconic birds. In an attempt to reverse corn bunting declines, they are implementing a range of measures providing safe nesting places, insect-rich summer foraging habitats and winter seed food. Numbers are now increasing locally and last year had the highest increase in corn bunting numbers in Fife in any single year since monitoring began: between 2015 and 2016, the number of territories increased by 18%, from 62 to 73 on participating farms, estates and council land. The new site at the Braes continues this positive story.