Barratt to rehome rare cirl buntings

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

A plan to build 187 new homes close to Paignton is approved for Barratt Homes, but not without cost.

The scheme includes Barratt Homes paying for the rehoming of five pairs of cirl buntings.

The species is only found in the south of Cornwall and Devon, but mostly Devon and especially around Kingsbridge.

It was first identified in this area by pioneering ornithologist George Montagu and recorded in his book from 1802, Ornithological Dictionary.

The rehoming will cost Barratt Homes £437,500 to provide an alternative home for the ten birds. Developers have to carry out measures to make up for wildlife habitat loss under planning rules.

Paignton councillor Barbara Lewis, said she did not object to protecting endangered species but questioned the size of the bill: “I find that
amazing. You could build three bungalows for that,” she said.

Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB, said: “I’m sure you could build some bungalows for that sum, but we are in an ecological emergency and it’s vital that developers do whatever they can to provide equally good homes for our buntings and other wildlife.”

The cirl bunting is a charming relative of the yellowhammer that is at the limit of its European range in the UK. In spring, males have a striking black chin, eye stripe and crown and yellow stripes on head and yellow underparts.

Female and juveniles look similar to yellowhammers, but have bolder head markings and streaked grey/brown rumps. It is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae. The English word cirl is derived from cirlus, ‘probably from zirlare, to whistle as a thrush’.

(Thanks to Wikipedia and the RSPB for the additional information.)

Photo courtesy of RSPB – The cirl bunting is only found in south Devon and south Cornwall

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