Lottery award launches drive to save corncrakes

The corncrake, as one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds
The corncrake, as one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds

Plans to save one of Scotland’s rarest birds have taken a step forward thanks to an award of £30,300 from The National Lottery.

In recent years corncrake numbers in Scotland have fallen to worryingly low levels.

This funding will allow RSPB Scotland to develop its project to save the species over the next year ahead of applying for a full Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £370,000.

Corncrakes are summer migrants to Scotland and spend the winter months in Africa. They are shy chestnut coloured land dwelling birds and related to moorhens and coots.

In the UK they are only found on a number of Scottish islands and a few isolated areas on the North West coast.

Last year’s population survey revealed that only 866 had been recorded, a drop of 33 per cent since 2014 and the lowest number since 2003.

The project in development called SCALE – Saving Corncrakes through Advocacy, Land management and Education will focus on these areas to help ensure the long term future of corncrakes.

These include working with farmers and crofters across Orkney, Durness, Skye, Outer Hebrides, Argyll and Inner Hebrides to deliver corncrake friendly practices. There will be practical and financial support for measures such as delayed mowing dates to help chick survival and the creation of dense vegetation areas to give corncrakes the cover they need.

Kenna Chisholm, regional conservation manager, RSPB Scotland said: “We’re delighted that Scale has been awarded this crucial funding and very grateful that we can now progress our plans further in the hope that we’ll gain full funding next year.”