A 28-day-old corncrake chick is fitted with an identification ring prior to being released at the RSPB`s Nene Washes reserve, in Cambridgeshire, yesterday (Wednesday 11 August). The bird is one 61 chicks released so far this year as part of a joint, three-year project by English Nature, the RSPB and the Zoological Society of London to re-establish this formerly widespread farmland bird in England.
The corncrake, a bird of wet grassland and hay meadows, became extinct as a nesting bird in England several decades ago because more intensive grassland management, especially mechanised mowing and silage production, forced the bird out of its formerly widespread strongholds. In the next few weeks the chicks, which have been bred in captivity at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, will migrate to Africa to spend the winter.
The partnership is hopeful the birds will return to the Nene Washes, near Peterborough, next spring to establish a breeding population. The corncrake is one of Britain`s rarest breeding birds. A survey last year found 821 calling corncrakes in Britain, with most in the Hebrides and small populations in Orkney and the extreme north and west of mainland Scotland.
Created: 12th Aug 2004