Yes – after an absence of six months – we’ve got Corncrake on the island again. Calling males are making their presence felt on the headland by the cottage and in the fields to the west. Because of their abrupt departure in autumn and their sudden arrival in the spring – and their preference for leaving and arriving in the dark – tradition on the island was that these elusive birds hibernated underground in the winter – only emerging in the warmer weather of spring. We now know that, amazingly, young from the first brood head south to their wintering grounds in West Africa as soon as they are fit enough to leave Tiree. Heading south alone on a journey they have never been on before, they cross oceans and deserts to reach lush grasslands in West Africa. Geo-locater studies have revealed that later in the winter, Scottish birds all then cross over the Congo rainforest to spend the mid-winter period in grasslands on the eastern side of the forest. They then seem to head back to West Africa once again before heading north to Scotland in spring. All of this seems quite remarkable for a bird that would rather run across a Tiree road than fly!

They’re Back!