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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 May 2007, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Sightings hope for rare farm bird
The corn bunting is thought to have returned to the Borders - picture by Tom Marshall

A small group of rare farmland birds has been found in the Borders - years after conservationists believed that just one of them remained in the area.

The corn bunting - known as the "fat bird of the barley" - was once a common sight across Scotland and the UK.

In recent decades, however, its numbers had fallen due to changes in traditional farming practices.

Conservationists have urged the public to call them if the large, sparrow-like bird is spotted in the region.

Small populations of the corn bunting still exist in eastern Scotland and the Western Isles.

The corn bunting may not be the most colourful of birds, but as it often perches conspicuously on wires such as telephone lines or fences when singing, it can be easily spotted
Lisa Webb
RSPB spokeswoman

It was thought that its fate in the Borders had been sealed after a single calling male was reported by a landowner in the Lamberton area in 2003.

However, this month Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) officers - with the help of a local volunteer and landowner - discovered two singing male corn buntings and a presumed female at a site in the eastern Borders.

'Jangling keys'

The find has raised hopes that the species may yet see a recovery in the region.

The public and farmers in particular, have been asked to keep an eye out for the rare birds, which are easily noted by their distinctive song and behaviour.

"The corn bunting may not be the most colourful of birds, but as it often perches conspicuously on wires such as telephone lines or fences when singing, it can be easily spotted," said Lisa Webb of the RSPB.

"The song of the corn bunting has been likened to jangling a set of keys, and is quite different to the smaller and more colourful yellowhammer."

A recording of the song and images of the bird have been placed on the RSPB's website.


SEE ALSO
Alarm sounded for farmland birds
18 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
Stooks 'vital' to bird's survival
04 Aug 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Farmers urged to help rare bird
08 Feb 06 |  Humber

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