Corncrake flock to Iona
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  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.