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Comparative quality of winter food sources for cirl bunting delivered through countryside stewardship special project and cs arable options - BD1626

A Countryside Stewardship Special Project has been in operation for cirl bunting in south Devon since 1994 . The project was designed to deploy prescriptive measures recommended by the RSPB and English Nature in order to facilitate recovery of this rare, declining and localised BAP species.
The project has been highly successful, perhaps the best-documented example of an agri-environment scheme delivering against its biodiversity target .
As part of the ongoing rationalisation of the current plethora of agri-environment schemes, Defra have suggested that the continued recovery of this species could be delivered by the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, using both existing prescriptions and the new arable options that have recently been incorporated and that, consequently, the Special Project should be discontinued. The exact nature of the prescriptions does vary between the two schemes, however, giving rise to some concern that the loss of the Special Project may hamper delivery of the recovery currently in progress. In particular, the new arable options do not specify a stubble option that follows a low-input cereal; the resulting stubble may therefore be less weedy than those under the Special Project. Additionally CS Special Project stubbles have to be retained to 31 March, those under Arable Options only until 14 February. It has been suggested that this gap could be bridged by provision of wild bird seed mix (WM1) under the Arable Options; it is not known, however, whether cirl buntings will use this option.
This proposal is to assess the comparative quality and likely efficacy of prescriptions deployed under the two schemes.
1) To measure the weed populations and number of wintering cirl buntings on a large sample of stubble fields in order to fully establish the relationship between bird density and weed density.
2) To measure the weed and seed populations on a smaller sample of stubbles created under Special Project and Arable Option prescriptions and to compare the two.
3) To assess usage of wild bird seed mixtures by cirl buntings.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Comparative quality of winter food sources for cirl bunting delivered through countryside stewardship special project and cs arable options   (4098k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2003

To: 2004

Cost: £46,544
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Royal Society for Protection of Birds
Environmental Protection              
Habitat conservation              
Nature conservation              
Fields of Study
Environmental Stewardship