12 August 2010

Listen out for Crex in Cambridgeshire

The call of the Corncrake was a common sound in England 150 years ago but due to farming intensification and habitat loss this is no longer the case. One of the best places to see them in the wild now is in the Hebrides in Scotland.

The RSPB, English Nature (now Natural England) and the Zoological Society of London got together for a collaborative project to introduce these birds back into England. The birds were bred at Whipsnade Zoo and the chosen release site was the Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire. They were ringed with BTO metal rings to keep track of their movements and progress.

Of the captive-bred corncrake chicks released at the Nene Washes RSPB reserve, a total of 29 have been recaptured there as singing adult males in later years. More notably, two of these zoo-bred birds have survived to three years of age- a very unusual longevity for wild-bred birds in Scotland (Green 2004). Both of these birds were derived from breeding stock taken as chicks from the Isle of Coll, Inner Hebrides in 2005.

'Green, R.E. (2004) A new method for estimating the adult survival rate of the Corncrake Crex crex and comparison with estimates from ring-recovery and ring-recapture data. Ibis 146, 501-508.'

Thanks to Rhys Green for letting us know and Jill Pakenham for the photo.

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