Corn­crake flock to Iona

The Oban Times - - News -

IONA has bucked the na­tional trend in fall­ing corn­crake num­bers by in­creas­ing the noisy bird on the is­land.

The no­to­ri­ously shy bird has suf­fered a poor sea­son this year [2015] with num­bers drop­ping by nearly a fifth.

Nearly all parts of the coun­try that corn­crakes oc­cupy wit­nessed a drop in num­bers this year, ex­cept for a few places, sch as the is­land of Iona who had a slight in­crease, and the Isle of Mull which stayed the same.

In an an­nual RSPB Scot­land sur­vey, the num­ber of call­ing males fell by 17 per cent com­pared to last year, with only 1,069 be­ing counted. In 2014, there were 1,289 call­ing males counted – the high­est to­tal in at least 45 years.

Corn­crakes are elu­sive, pi­geon-sized birds which breed in Scot­land over the spring and sum­mer, mi­grat­ing to Africa in win­ter. They are found in only a few iso­lated parts of the coun­try, mainly on the is­lands.

The Isle of Tiree holds the most corn­crakes with 333 call­ing males counted in 2015.

De­spite th­ese re­cent fluc­tu­a­tions, how­ever, corn­crakes have re­cov­ered hugely since the early 1990s. At that time the species – which, in the 19th cen­tury, was com­mon right across Scot­land, Eng­land, Wales and Ire­land – had dwin­dled to just 400 call­ing males. Th­ese were al­most en­tirely re­stricted to a few Scot­tish is­lands.

Re­search by RSPB Scot­land iden­ti­fied chang­ing agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties, es­pe­cially a shift to ear­lier mow­ing of hay mead­ows and silage fields, as the main cause of the de­clines.

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