Thursday 19 April 2018

Huge surge 
in corncrake population 
for second year in a row

Gordon Deegan

The State has recorded a massive surge in the numbers of corncrakes in Ireland for the second year running, new figures show.

In a further victory in the State's battle to save the bird from national extinction, the Department of Arts and Heritage confirmed that preliminary figures from its 2014 census show that 230 calling corncrake males were recorded this summer - a 24pc increase on the 185 calling males recorded last year.

However, the 2014 figures show that a previous corncrake stronghold, the Shannon Callows, is home to only one calling male this summer.

The largest concentration of the corncrake this year is in Co Donegal, where 156 calling males were counted with 108 of those on islands off the county's coast.

The Donegal island with the largest number of corncrakes is Inisbofin with 42 and this was followed by 15 on Tory Island and 14 on both Gola and Inishmeane islands.

The next largest concentration of the bird was found in Mayo/Connemara where 72 were recorded with 37 found in the Mullet peninsula and 25 in the Connemara islands.

The birds return to Ireland every summer before migrating south to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter.

This is the second successive rise in figures. The 185 calling males last year represented an increase of up to 40pc on 2012 - the highest percentage rise in almost 20 years. The two successive years of large rises follows the State committing massive resources to prevent the extinction of the bird here.

Between last year and 2012, the State spent €1.2m on various conservation programme measures for the bird.

The largest proportion of the cash goes to farmers in population strongholds for the Corncrake in Connacht and Donegal - last year, farmers received €355,173 for corncrake management and this compare to payments of €545,000 to farmers in 2012.

Irish Independent

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