CORNCRAKE LIFE Goes from Strength to Strength

Mar 11, 2024 | Green Architecture

Corncrake/Traonach LIFE is a five-year EU LIFE funded project aimed at improving the conservation status of one of Ireland’s most iconic farmland bird species. The project works with farmers, landowners and local communities across counties Galway, Mayo and Donegal.

In 2023 the national corncrake census recorded 218 calling male corncrakes in Ireland. This is an increase of 10% on the 2022 figure although from a very low baseline. Normally only male corncrakes call and therefore they are used as a proxy, assuming that for every calling male recorded there is a female nesting in close proximity. Outside of the three counties mentioned above calling male birds were also recorded in Sligo and Kerry during 2023. Half of the birds recorded were on our offshore islands.

It was exciting that one corncrake appeared on Inishmore on the Aran islands during 2023 after an absence of 25years. It is also encouraging to hear that friends in the RSPB on Rathlin Island had corncrakes reappearing over the past few summers, great news as birds had been absent for many years.

Like the famous advertisement on TV – “Tá said ag teacht”. By early April the corncrakes are on their way home from the south-west Africa region mainly the DR of Congo. They fly 6,500km across jungle, desert, mountains and oceans. They will return to within 5-10km of where they were born.

Every year the project staff receive hundreds of reports from across the country from people who have heard the corncrake. If you have heard a corncrake, please report it to our local project team or via our website or social media. Also, you can use the Corncrake Hotline: 085 8784648. Every report makes a massive difference to saving this wonderful creature.

Corncrake LIFE is now commencing the fourth year of its 5-year programme life span. The project currently has 150 farmers and landowners active in the project covering more than 1,600 hectares in conservation and management measures under the results-based scheme. Overall, there has been a 35% increase in the birds since 2018.

Some sites had significant increases in 2023 with the mullet peninsula in Co Mayo seeing an increase of 23% to 59 birds since 2022. Toraigh in Co Donegal increased from 15 corncrakes to 24 birds in 2023 while Omey Island in Co Galway increased from 3 birds to 8 birds in 2023.

Wildlife Friendly Mowing

The farmers and contractors continue to do excellent work by mowing fields from the centre out. This reduces the chance of the small chicks and other mammals being killed by 60%.

Many farmers also choose to leave a margin along field edges to give the birds somewhere to escape to and receive an additional payment for this measure.

A call for new participants to the Corncrake LIFE Results Based Payment Scheme went out in October 2023 and new applications for the scheme are currently being accepted.

Schools Programme

2023 saw the project continue with the roll out of its very successful primary schools’ programme. Our Community Engagement Officers visited 4 schools in the project area and over 110 pupils participated in the programme.

Remember to stay up to date with the latest news from the Corncrake LIFE, click here.

Source of text and images: Corncrake LIFE

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