Corncrakes on Skye 2012

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05th October 2012


2012 was an unusual year from the point of view of weather and for the corncrake survey. May and June were dry and sunny but extremely cold and windy during the day but the wind tended to drop in the evenings providing perfect corncrake surveying conditions with a calling male being heard 100s of metres from its calling site – which presumably works well for femalecorncrakes as well as surveyors! The first reports of corncrakes on Skye came in early May - around week later than in 2011 - whichmay be explained by the strong northerly winds delaying their arrival or suppressing their night-time calling. One male was first heard on the 2nd May and stayed on the same location through the summer until 25th July. Most of the other males called for 1-4 weeks before either moving territory or ceasing their night-time singing. With regard to numbers, there were at least 23 individual calling males on the island and a maximum or 33. Unfortunately we cannot talk about breeding or fledging success as the only evidence of breeding is from reports of actual sightings of chicks; this year we heard of two broods. We will have a better idea of actual breeding success when we see how many males return next year as only 1 in 5 adult corncrakes will survive to the next year so most of the males which return in 2013 will have been born in 2012. Reports via the Skye Birds website provided the survey with important information on the location of calling males and the number of days/weeks that males spent on a particular site, all of which helped inform management and protection of the birds.

My thanks to all contributors and for the support of www.skye-birds. com

Shelagh Parlane RSPB Corncrake Project Officer, Skye