A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cheshire Corncrake!

Being away in New York for 10 days during the end of May meant I wasn’t able to catch up with the singing male Corncrake that had taken up residence at Carr Lane in Hale, Cheshire for nearly 2 weeks after news had been made public!

Arriving late on the Sunday afternoon, whilst some visitors had apparently had to wait several hours to get a glimpse, we were lucky in that ten minutes after taking up our spot by the hedge, the Corncrake gave up his position in the long grass with that familiar rasping call of “crex crex crex”. Not long after we could just make out a small head peeking from amongst the clover and flower petals, calling loudly and proudly and trying (sadly in vain) to attract a mate.
Corncrake, Cheshire
We watched this unusual summer visitor for the rest of the evening, calling regularly from his favoured patch in front of the pony paddock and showing very well at times, even coming right out in to the open towards the end of the evening and crossing the short grazed grass before creeping along the far left hand side of the fence line in full view.

Having travelled to the island of Iona in West Scotland last June (probably a year ago to the day from seeing the Cheshire bird) where we enjoyed brief (though close) views of two birds on a very wet and torrential day, it was great to see this particular individual for a lengthy period of time (in the sun!) and showing well.

It is a real shame that this once abundant farmland bird (my Grandad can remember a time when he would regularly get Corncrakes in the fields by his house) is restricted to just a few Scottish island strongholds, and it really is pause for thought that a bird that would once be considered the norm in farmland habitats across the country would cause a “twitch” on such a scale in the present day.

The presence of both Grey Partridges and singing Corn Buntings at the site (both steadily declining these days) demonstrates that this Cheshire farmer is doing something right at least, but it is a sad and sorry reflection on current British farming practices that the Corncrake, along with many other farmland species have become almost non-existent in many areas throughout Britain over the past few decades.

Sadly, after our visit on the Sunday, an irresponsible birder was observed tape luring the bird the next day, and unfortunately and frustratingly the Corncrake hasn’t been heard or seen since. Fingers crossed he has moved up north to one of the Scottish islands where he will hopefully be successful in finding a mate.
Corncrake, Cheshire

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