When cirl buntings returned to Jersey after an 8-year absence in 2011, we waited anxiously to see whether they could fully recolonise (see update). We knew that there was adequate nesting habitat available, not least as their hosts, Royal Jersey Golf Club, were happy to help them. The limiting factor seemed to be the availability of adequate food in the winter when the buntings live out in the fields. We sought advice, not least from the RSPB’s Cath Jeffs, developed a plan for the buntings and it was suggested that we provide grain for them in winter and have done this each year (many thanks to Richard Perchard), the buntings quickly learning to use the special feeders.
So, how are our buntings doing now? A good walk around the golf-less golf course by Mick Dryden on 3rd May found buntings at six sites. Our recording of the sites is easy as golf clubs, unsurprisingly, number and map their course. However, while the buntings’ presence on the course is widely known, to avoid disturbance we have removed those numbers and replaced with sites (below). Please respect the Royal Jersey Golf Club’s course, the neighbours and, of course, these rare birds who’s foothold in the Channel Islands is still very vulnerable. Here are Mick’s findings:
- Site 1. A pair of cirls at the northern end of the gorse, on the road side both feeding together (female above and male at bottom of page)
- Site 2. A pair at the usual area, both feeding together
- Site 3. A second male in the large trees, close to the Site 2, singing strongly and flying out to the centre of the course to sing again
- Site 4. A third pair together on their usual area
- Site 5 A fourth pair together in the tree. These flew down to the cut down area
- Site 6. A male singing strongly and holding territory. I didn’t see a female with this one.
So, four pairs plus two additional males = 10 birds. This is at the start of the breeding season and Mick’s survey in 2016 found 17 birds including eight young from three pairs in July, after they’d bred that year. So, 10 years on from their return, our cirl buntings are still here and, while still vulnerable, they are definitely hanging on.