CorncrakesBack to projects
Corncrakes have suffered a steep decline in numbers this was first noticed 150 years ago and by the 1990’s they were extinct as breeders in England. In Britain they were restricted to islands off the northern and western coasts of Scotland. Corncrakes are red-listed in Britain.
Shortage of tall vegetation in spring due to early mowing or the grass not reaching a sufficient height affects early breeding success as it not only affects nesting but also food scarcity.
During the summer early mowing or excessive mowing (not leaving uncut areas) can severely affect chick survival and destroy second clutches.
Corncrakes migrate to Africa in the autumn and during this journey tens of thousands are killed by trappers.
Actively Saving Species
Pensthorpe Conservation Trust is rearing captive bred corncrakes for a new release site in Norfolk and has helped to build the population of corncrakes at the Nene Washes reserve with the Zoological Society of London and RSPB.
Corncrakes are a farmland species that used to be synonymous with summer, the crexing of the male corncrake is such a distinctive sound so although they are seldom seen their call can fill the air. Loss of secure habitat at key stages in the breeding season of these birds has heralded a devastating blow to their numbers.
At Pensthorpe everything we do to the landscape is for the benefit of native and migratory species, our Conservation Grade farm is managed to create the ideal habitat for rich biodiversity.
We need your help
Before the corncrake breeding season starts in May there is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes, health checks and preparation of the biosecure enclosures to ensure all is ready for the busy season ahead. Bird welfare is always the top priority, the PCT’s team includes a dedicated corncrake ‘nanny’ who when the young start hatching takes on the job of full-time carer, from the first feed at 6am through to a last feed at 10pm!
At around 14 days old the independent chicks are given a pre-move health check before transfer to the release site in the Wensum Valley. Supplemented feeding continues and at around 45 days old the youngsters are released after a check. The corncrakes use the night sky to help guide them back after their winter migration to sub-saharan Africa so this time at the release site is vital for future returning birds.
If you do hear a corncrake crexing here in Norfolk, head to Wensum Monitoring to find out more about our monitoring work within the Wensum Valley and what to look and listen for.
You can support our work with the Corncrake Reintroduction Project by adopting one of our corncrakes and you can follow the PCT’s work by joining our mailing list.