Pupils from Elie, Crail and Pittenweem Primary Schools took part in a very special event last week to help one of Scotland's most threatened birds, the corn bunting.
Over 150 children helped create giant bird tables by sowing a wild bird seed mix at designated Fife Council sites local to the schools, which will provide a vital food source for corn buntings and other farmland birds over the winter. The seed mix also contains wildflowers including clover and linseed which will encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Elaine Paterson is the Headteacher at Pittenweem Primary School, she said: "The children enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the corn buntings and to play their part in helping to increase their numbers by sowing a wild patch to provide a suitable habitat for them. They particularly enjoyed stomping the seeds into the ground!"
The school children also received a talk from the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust who are supporting the project, to learn about the plight of the corn bunting.
Corn buntings have suffered dramatic declines in East Scotland over the past few decades with numbers falling by 83% between 1989 and 2007, marking them as one of Scotland's fastest declining birds. A Corn Bunting Recovery Project was launched in Fife and thanks to the actions of farmers and estates involved; the fortunes of this special bird have changed.
Last year, survey work identified the highest increase in corn bunting numbers in Fife in any single year since monitoring began: between 2015 and 2016, the number of territories increased by 18%, from 62 to 73 on participating farms. This is largely due to providing a winter food source for the birds as well as safe nesting spaces and summer insect food for the chicks.
Yvonne Stephan is a Conservation Advisor for RSPB Scotland and helps run the Corn Bunting Recovery Project. She said: "It's fantastic to see all the excitement about corn buntings and how the entire region pulls together to save this little bird. The children did a fantastic job in sowing the seeds and it's heart warming to see how many people are joining forces - local farmers, schools, communities, golf courses, volunteers, estates and Fife Council all helping to turn the tide for corn buntings. A big thank you to everyone!"
Johanna Willi is the Biodiversity Officer for Fife Council. She said: "We are very fortunate to have a population of the threatened corn bunting right here on our doorstep in Fife, and it was so exciting to be able to team up with primary school children to take action to help protect this charming farmland bird."
She added: "Big thanks to Fife Council's park operations team who got the ground prepared for sowing. More and more land managers are taking part in the Corn Bunting Recovery Project, and we are delighted to be working with RSPB Scotland and East Neuk communities to make a contribution too."
RSPB Scotland will be running two special cycle safaris this summer to give people the opportunity to look for corn buntings and other farmland wildlife by bike. These will take place on Saturday 24 June and Friday 14 July. For more information and to book a place, please contact the RSPB Tayside and Fife Office on 01738 630783 or email email@example.com
1. RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
2. The Biodiversity Areas for Buntings and Bees Project is a partnership between Marks & Spencer, Kettle Produce, RSPB Scotland and local farmers and estates.