Yellowhammers are still a fairly common hedgerow bird locally, especially where whins grow, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).
Gorse livens summer hillsides with its golden flowers and coconut scent.
How well the bright cock yellowhammers match their colourful nesting fortress.
Perhaps it is to this match the Yelly Lintie owes its amazingly bright colours?
Certainly away from flowering gorse the bird shines like a beacon.
When we were laddies in the ‘60s, the egg of the yellowhammer was a prized possession with its zigzag squiggles. These curious markings gave the bird yet another country name, that of ‘scribble finch’.
Back then, of course, almost all birds were much more common than now.
Intensification of farming practices have brought about widespread declines.
However, the yellowhammer clings on fairly commonly and is especially obvious in winter when it gathers into foraging flocks on weedy field margins.
Such uncultivated margins now edge the modern fieldscape as part of the farm subsidy system designed to help species such as the 'Yorlin'.
By also cutting hedges much wider than in recent years, farmers can provide nesting as well as feeding habitat.
I would imagine many of you are already very familiar with this canary-like bird.
If not, now is a good time to make that acquaintance, as territorial male yorlins sit atop hedges, whins or even roadside wires, belting out their famous call of ‘little bit bit of bread and no cheeeeeeeeeese’.
These birds can be seen all year round but breeding commonly takes place in April and May.
What a package, the song, the colours, the curious eggs, and the always alert, perky posture of this countryman’s favourite.