I’m currently reading the third volume of the Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests from the 1950s.
Times have changed:
“All these birds are common”, the introduction says. Now, they really aren’t.
The Corn Bunting is, “A dull brown bird,” author Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald says. That’s hardly a glowing endorsement. Apparently it, “Is very fond of sitting on telegraph wires.”
The RSPB’s current website says, “This nondescript lowland farmland bird is the largest of the buntings and is most usually seen perched on a wire or post.” They seem to agree on that, then. We’ve developed our description from ‘dull’ to ‘nondescript’.
Is it common though? I’ve never seen one in the UK, and the RSPB say there are just 11,000 territories. The State of the UK’s Birds 2017 report says Corn Buntings have declined by 89% since 1970. Who will notice what we have lost when we never knew we had it?
This is my one photograph of a Corn Bunting, Emberiza calandra. I took it in Italy.
The birds of my childhood books have been almost eliminated from the British countryside in my lifetime.