The bird is found in open countryside and in winter feeds on farmland. They avoid winter cereals and improved grassland and instead prefer to feed on winter stubble and rough areas of grass that have a good number of weeds. Most of the year it feeds on plant material, eating the grain from cereal crops and the seeds from grasses and weeds, but in summer it eats beetles and caterpillars, feeding the young on sawflies, aphids, beetles and ripening grain.
Most males have one mate, but some have two or more females nesting in their territory, although it has been recorded that one male attracted 18 females, 6 of which nested. Territories are re-occupied between February and April with males starting to sing to attract a mate. The female incubates between 2 and 4 eggs for 12-14 days and then feeds the young. The chicks leave the nest after 9-13 days, sometimes before they can fly.
This, I am afraid to say, is another farmland bird that has had a drastic fall in numbers. In the past 25 years their population has fallen by over 85% in Britain and again this is linked to changes in agriculture that has seen the loss of stubble fields and earlier harvesting, which has prevented a second brood from fledging being two of the likely causes. In Ireland this bird has become extinct as a breeding bird in recent years, although in 1900 it bred in 30 of the 32 Irish counties.
The photographs below were again taken on Newborough Fen, one of the few strongholds of this disappearing bird.
All photo`s digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30