We’ve lost the call of the Corncrake for another year! Until fairly recently we had males calling in the long grass around the cottage – hoping for a third brood.
RSPB have just launched a conservation project called ‘Corncrake Calling’ which aims to save one of Scotland’s rarest and most secretive birds. Once widespread across UK meadows the Corncrake population fell catastrophically during the 1900s due to mechanisation and the trend towards the earlier mowing of grass crops. Corncrake are now confined to a few Scottish islands and a few isolated areas on the North West coast. Tiree is really very fortunate because we have the highest concentration of this red listed bird anywhere in the UK – almost a third of the entire population.
‘Corncrake Calling’ will work closely with farmers, local communities and national audiences to provide these iconic birds with the best possible chance of future success. Strategies usually involve creating fenced areas which remain uncultivated, cutting hay or silage later in the summer and cutting from the centre of fields outwards – allowing birds to escape to the edges of the fields and away to safety.
Recent counts show how fragile the numbers are. In 2017 there were only 866 recorded in the UK with 316 on Tiree. The following year the numbers recovered slightly with 899 males recorded across the UK and 322 on Tiree. Last year numbers had fallen again with only 870 calling males recorded within the UK with 300 on Tiree. This year there were 294 recorded on Tiree.