Study

Countryside stewardship delivers cirl buntings (Emberiza cirlus) in Devon, UK

  • Published source details Peach W., Lovett L., Wotton S. & Jeffs C. (2001) Countryside stewardship delivers cirl buntings (Emberiza cirlus) in Devon, UK. Biological Conservation, 101, 361-373.

Actions

This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Maintain traditional orchards

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Leave overwinter stubbles

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

Action Link
Bird Conservation

Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes)

Action Link
Farmland Conservation

Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

Action Link
Farmland Conservation
  1. Maintain traditional orchards

    A 2001 paired site comparison study in south Devon (Peach et al. 2001) found that the presence of traditional orchards was associated with reduced cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus numbers. This effect, however, may have been at least partly because orchards typically had few areas of spring-sown barley and scrub clearance – both practices identified as benefiting cirl bunting. Traditional orchard management was encouraged as a prescription within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS). Forty-one 2x2 km² squares containing both land within the CSS and non-CSS land were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. In each year each tetrad was surveyed for cirl bunting at least twice, the first time during mid-April to late May, and the second time between early June and the end of August.

     

  2. Leave overwinter stubbles

    A 2001 paired site comparison study in south Devon, UK (Peach et al. 2001) found that the presence of areas of spring sown barley followed by overwinter stubbles was associated with an increase in the number of cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus. Along with a number of other Countryside Stewardship Scheme management options found to be important for cirl bunting, an increase in the area of spring sown barley followed by overwinter stubbles coincided with an increase in the number of cirl bunting pairs from 1997 to 1998. Six of seven Countryside Stewardship Scheme plots that had 6 m grass margins and were within 2.5 km of former cirl bunting territories gained birds, and there was a tendency for farms providing grass margins to also include spring sown barley (followed by overwinter stubbles). The association between grass margin uptake and overwinter stubble uptake leads the authors to suggest that overwinter stubbles (and spring sown barley) may have a positive influence on cirl bunting, although these results are not definitive. More generally, there were declines of 20% in cirl bunting numbers on land not participating in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Forty-one 2 x 2 km² squares containing both land within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and non-Countryside Stewardship Scheme land were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. In each year, squares were surveyed for cirl bunting at least twice, the first time during mid-April to late May, and the second time between early June and the end of August.

     

  3. Pay farmers to cover the costs of bird conservation measures

    A 2001 replicated paired site comparison study in south Devon, England (Peach et al. 2001) found that the number of cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus increased significantly more (up 72%, from 54 to 93 breeding territories) in areas participating in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, than on adjacent land not participating in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (down 20%, from 124 to 96 territories) between 1992 and 1999. Countryside Stewardship Scheme land that was near to known bunting breeding territories saw greater increases in bunting numbers than Countryside Stewardship Scheme areas further away: of the nine agreements further than 2 km from the nearest known breeding site in 1992, seven remained un-colonised in 1999, one lost its only pair and one gained a pair. Forty-one 4 km² squares containing both land within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and non-Countryside Stewardship Scheme land were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. In each year each tetrad was surveyed at least twice, the first time during mid April to late May, and the second time between early June and the end of August.

  4. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields for birds

    A 2001 replicated paired site comparison study in south Devon (Peach et al. 2001) found that fields with 6 m grass margin were associated with increases in cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus numbers. Six of 7 Countryside Stewardship Scheme plots that had 6 m grass margins and were within 2.5 km of former bunting territories gained birds, whereas more generally there were declines of 20% in bunting numbers on land not-participating within the CSS. Forty-one 2x2 km² squares containing both land within Countryside Stewardship Scheme and non-Countryside Stewardship Schemeland were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. In each year each square was surveyed at least twice, the first time during mid-April to late May, and the second time between early June and the end of August.

     

  5. Pay farmers to cover the cost of conservation measures (as in agri-environment schemes)

    A paired site comparison study in 1992, 1998 and 1999 in south Devon, England (Peach et al. 2001) found that the number of cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus increased significantly more (up 72%, from 54 to 93 breeding territories) in areas participating in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, than on adjacent land not participating in the scheme (down 20%, from 124 to 96 territories) between 1992 and 1999. Countryside Stewardship Scheme land that was near to known cirl bunting breeding territories saw greater increases in cirl bunting numbers than Countryside Stewardship Scheme areas further away - of the nine agreements further than 2 km from the nearest known breeding site in 1992, seven remained uncolonized in 1999, one lost its only pair and one gained a pair. Forty-one 2 x 2 km² squares containing both land within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and non-Countryside Stewardship Scheme land were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. In each year each tetrad was surveyed at least twice, the first time during mid-April to late May, and the second time between early June and the end of August.

     

  6. Plant grass buffer strips/margins around arable or pasture fields

    A 2001 paired site comparison study in south Devon, UK (Peach et al. 2001) found that fields with 6 m grass margins were associated with increases in cirl bunting Emberiza cirlus numbers. Six of seven Countryside Stewardship Scheme plots that had 6 m grass margins and were within 2.5 km of former cirl bunting territories gained birds, whereas there were declines of 20% in cirl bunting numbers on land not-participating within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Forty-one 2 x 2 km² squares containing both land within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and non-Countryside Stewardship Scheme land were surveyed in 1992, 1998 and 1999. Each tetrad was surveyed at least twice each year, the first time during mid-April to late May and the second time between early June and the end of August.

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