Yellowhammer: a little bit of bread

Back in the 1970's, and before of course, a walk on the rolling chalk downs of Hampshire and 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 (Emberiza citrinella). 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 for their survival. 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.
Yellowhammer: a little bit of bread

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