Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Corncrakes desert Shannon Callows Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farmers in the Shannon Callows could have heard the last ever call of a corncrake this year.

Devastating floods in the bird's traditional nesting habitat have reduced the corncrake breeding population in the Callows from up to 70 pairs in 2002 to just a single male bird this year.

It is not known at this stage whether this lone male has mated with a female or managed to nest.

It had been hoped that intensive efforts from farmers and conservation groups working in the region to protect the ground-nesting birds would succeed, but it now looks like successive flooded summers have undone their good work.

In recent years farmers in the area have delayed mowing until after August 10 -- and even into September -- to allow corncrakes to breed undisturbed.

Other measure undertaken have been to mow plots from the centre outwards and to leave margins between plots.

Similar measures in Scotland have seen corncrake numbers almost double in recent years.

Sadly for the Irish corncrake, excessively wet summers have washed away nests and left the habitat unsuitable for nesting.

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As the corncrake lives for just three years on average, its survival is heavily dependent on producing two broods of chicks every summer.

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