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Corncrakes failure to raise chicks for the sixth year!


 
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:06 pm    Post subject: Corncrakes failure to raise chicks for the sixth year! Reply with quote

Corncrakes failure to raise chicks for the sixth year!

Is this the last call for Irish corncrakes?
The corncrake is expected to vanish from the Shannon Callows, one of the most important habitats for the bird in western Europe, despite a €500,000 government-funded project to save the threatened species and protect its habitat.

Only four males were heard making their rasping "crex crex" mating call this summer in the grassy flood plains that run along the Shannon between the towns of Athlone in Co Westmeath and Portumna in Co Galway. This year's census of corncrakes, which migrate to the Irish countryside each summer to raise their young, was the worst on record for the callows' population.

Ornithologists believe the region's corncrakes did not manage to raise any chicks for the sixth consecutive year due to flooding, which destroyed nests during the vital incubation period.

. The Irish Corncrake bird is facing extinction, photo / picture / image.

Corncrakes are counted by the number of males that are heard calling to females. One male is said to represent a pair of the shy birds, though experts say this is not always the case.

There were 144 male corncrakes heard calling in Ireland this summer, a decline of eight birds on last year's national census. The greatest drop was recorded in the Shannon Callows, where numbers have continually declined since 1991 when 101 males were heard calling in the flood plains.

Ornithologists recorded just nine male birds in the callows last year. This figure dwindled to just four during the summer.

Experts believe that the corncrake's extinction in the Shannon Callows, where it was once abundant, is now inevitable, though its numbers in Co Donegal and west Mayo have stabilised.

"We can come to all sorts of conclusions and blame the flooding on global warming, but the Shannon Callows population of corncrakes has fallen to just four calling males, and I think we have to accept it is on the verge of extinction," said Anita Donaghy, a conservation officer with BirdWatch Ireland.

Corncrakes were once common in the Irish countryside, but modern farming techniques and the use of pesticides has virtually wiped them out. The use of farm machinery also contributed to their disappearance, as chicks were unable to get out of the way of harvesters.

The species is now limited to three areas in Ireland, but the Shannon Callows population was considered to be the most important.

"It is possible that the callows population will recover. For the moment, all we can do is continue to preserve their habitat, and hope the river stops flooding," said Donaghy.

Read more here...... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article5299106.ece

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