Little brown sparrow-like birds are sometimes overlooked but on close inspection they turn out to be quite special.
This is a Cirl Bunting. The photo was taken by a friend who lives near Royan. It was taken through a window which always lowers the quality a little but none the less it still shows it as a beautiful little bird. I find that if you open a window just a fraction and set up your camera you wait forever as the birds seem to know, so better a slightly faded photo than no photo at all.
Cirl Buntings are related to Yellow Hammers but seem to be more common in France than Yellow Hammers. In GB it is the other way round and a Cirl Bunting would be quite special. Where I am in Vienne they are quite common but I have not seen one come to a bird table or feeding point. I see them high up in the trees – normally I hear them first and then spot them afterwards. Their call is not that attractive. It is a rather monotonous drawn out zeeeeeh repeated over and over again.
The other Bunting to keep a look out for in the summer is the Ortolan Bunting (Emberria hortulana) which is similar but does not have the black and yellow stripy head. This photo shows it at its best ( It is not my photo it is one I googled). This is a male in pristine condition. Normally they are a bit more nondescript, especially females and juveniles.
You are less likely to see these in your garden. They prefer more bushy habitats often where it is wet and where there are willows, sallows and silver birch. However if you have a river at the bottom of your garden as my friend near Royan does then it’s always a possibility that they will appear there.
To view other birds you might see in your garden click on Garden birds in Poitou-Charentes