Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

Thirty years or so ago a walk on the rolling southern hills of Hampshire or Dorset would have soon yielded a familiar, thin sounding bird song from a nearby hedge or tree; the 'famous' "Little bit of bread and no cheeeeese" of the Yellowhammer. Sadly, along with so many other farmland birds this is now quite a rarity as the population of the Yellowhammer has plummetted.
The bird in this photograph was not singing that song, of course, as this is the female; a yellowish brown on the back rather than the bright canary yellow of her mate. Nonetheless, still a very attractive little bird and always a joy to see.
As a member of the bunting family the Yellowhammer eats seed in the winter and the lack of fallow ground and spilt seed from pre-intensive farming times means that winters are now very hard. I find that I encounter them most now on the heaths around Moreton, Puddletown and also at Holt with occasional sightings from the Purbeck coastal cliffs but they are not the common bird of farmland that they one were. Such a shame.
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Find out more about the nature of Dorset at www.natureofdorset.co.uk

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