Corncrake Survey 2022

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04th November 2022


RSPB Scotland has just announced the results of the annual corncrake survey where surveyors listen out for the distinctive call of corncrake males during the night from May to July. The survey has been carried out for the last 30 years and provides a very good indicator of how the species it doing – your reports of where the birds are really help and the support from Skye Birds is very much appreciated. This year a total of 824 calling males were counted over this area. In 2021, there were 850 and although not a large decline, this is part of a downward trend since 2014 when 1289 males were counted. Some areas faired better than others, with Tiree and Coll  increasing from 315 in 2021 to 320 this year but the Western Isles dropped from 435 in 2021 to 390 this year.


On Skye, we were fortunate to have an increase from 10 calling males last year to 14 this year. Our first birds appeared on the 26th April and as usual were concentrated on Waternish and Trotternish with two or three on other parts of the island. We had two females calling (very similar to the male but higher in pitch) and this is thought to be a sign of a lack of available males. Both of these females were in places that had had a male approximately four weeks earlier and we are hopeful that both will have managed to produce at least one brood and were looking for another mate.


We were lucky again this year to pick up a corncrake on a trail camera (pictured) on a silage field where no corncrakes had been heard. This was in late August and reminds us of the importance of maintaining corncrake habitat through out the whole summer.


With the support of many of the Skye Birds reporters we managed to get 113 recordings of corncrakes and found 15 different PPDs (Pulse to Pulse Durations) nicely agreeing with the findings of the corncrake survey. Using the calls patterns, we were able to track individual birds around and also work out where probable breeding took place. For anyone interested in the details of our corncrake call analyses please click here.


The RSPB Scotland led Corncrake Calling project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players, continued this year and over 30 crofters and farmers on Skye signing up for the Corncrake Initiative, a scheme which supports delaying mowing, and mowing fields from the inside out to allow birds hiding in the crops to escape to the edges.  


The ongoing survival of corncrakes here has been the result of farmers and crofters being supported to manage their land in corncrake friendly ways, through Scottish Government agricultural payments, RSPB Scotland, and the Corncrake Calling Project.


Thank you to Bob and the contributors at Skye Birds for all your support in locating the birds and in making the recordings – your help is very much appreciated!  

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