Yellowhammer, yet another bird for the Garden’s list

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella). Source: Yellowhammer.jpg, Wikimedia Commons.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella). Source: Yellowhammer.jpg, Wikimedia Commons.

On 3 January 2015, Gavin Powell, one of the RBGE Visitor Welcome team, spotted an unusual bird with bright yellow head perched on brambles opposite the Cryptogamic Garden. It was a Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella), an unusual visitor to town gardens and the first record of this species for RBGE. This was the first new Garden wildlife record for 2015 and brings the Edinburgh Garden bird list up to 91 since 1997 and 98 in total.

Yellowhammers are more typically found in farmland and open countryside with hedgerows. In the Lothians, I have seen them in the Balerno area, out towards the reservoirs (Bavelaw, Harlaw and Threipmuir) in the Pentlands, as well as in East Lothian. In an email, Gavin writes that he frequently sees them between Stenton and Gifford in East Lothian but he has seen them in Edinburgh only between Duddingston Loch and the Innocent Railway path. To find one in the Botanics, barely a mile from Princes Street, is certainly very unusual.

Yellowhammer is Red-Listed in the UK and is in the Lothians Biodiversity Action Plan for seed-eating birds. If you see one in the Botanics please let me know.

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1 Comment

  1. Jeff Ashcroft

    Not in your area but a quick thank you as your photo has identified the bird I can see as I type from the window of our holiday let on Dartmoor. The owners have installed a wonderful feeding station for a variety of birds which is busy from dawn till dusk – including the odd squirrel, several varieties of tit and finch etc.

    We have one bird we have yet to identify which visits the field next door, that hovers above long grass, drops onto the ground and picks up insects before flying off towards a barn. Black and white with a hint of pinky red and longish tail – some sort of wagtail we are thinking but I have watched both pied and yellow wagtails at home near Penzance and not witnessed the ‘hovering’ behaviour before.