A once common species now declining and usually only seen in and around reed beds
The reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) has earned its common name through being primarily associated with reed beds and other wet habitats such as river and lake margins and coastal marshes. Whilst this is true it is mainly in the breeding season they are found in these habitats where insects are usually lavishly available for their offspring but out of the breeding season they can be encountered almost anywhere other than in urban situations. They are a resident Dorset species and not known for extensive movements although winter populations here are undoubtedly bolstered by arrivals from further north. They were once common in stubble fields on farmland but the coming of winter wheat in the 1970s saw an end to stubble and consequently the reed bunting has declined somewhat since those days.
Being resident in Dorset the weekly reporting chart shows records for most weeks of the year with just the odd week in mid summer seeing no reports at all. In general reports are never really numerous but there is undoubtedly an upward surge in reports in October as winter nears and birds from the north start arriving and possibly moving through. This seems more marked in the autumn of 2018 compared to 2017 but that may just be down to vagrancies in the nature of tweeted sightings.
So far there are records from forty four sites in Dorset in the Nature of Dorset database with well watched sites around Poole Harbour producing the most sightings, especially Holton Lee and Lytchett Bay at the extreme west end of the harbour where reed beds are most common. The distribution map shows a general tendency for records to come from coastal areas where reed beds are most frequently found but there are records from further inland too, often where there are lakes or slow moving rivers.
A visit to any site with a reed bed should reward you with a reed bunting for your Dorset list providing you have some patience!
|Common Name||Reed Bunting|
|Scientific Name||Emberiza schoeniclus|
|Species Group||Birds Finches and Buntings|
A bit of a 'sparrow' look-a-like near rivers and reed beds
|Additional Identification Notes|