Corncrakes have been spotted on Rathlin Island.
RATHLIN could be a ‘Love Island’ for corncrakes as two pairs recorded for first time since the ‘80s.
For the first time in 30 years it’s been confirmed that there are two pairs of corncrakes on Rathlin Island.
The corncrake is one of our rarest and most secretive birds and is a red-listed species (a bird of high conservation concern).
While many people can fondly remember hearing its call in years gone by, Rathlin is the only place in Northern Ireland where the birds have been heard in recent years.
A male has been heard calling in one location on Rathlin each year since 2016 and now RSPB NI staff have recorded two breeding males in two separate sites on the island this summer.
Known for their unmistakeable ‘crex-crex’ call, corncrakes are highly secretive and like to settle in early growing tall vegetation like nettles, cow parsley and irises.
One of the sites - in Church Bay - is on land owned by an islander but managed by RSPB NI that has had nettles planted by staff and teams of volunteers to encourage the birds – summer migrants from western Africa – to return to Rathlin.
RSPB Rathlin Island Warden Liam McFaul said: “It’s fantastic and really encouraging that the work we’re doing for corncrakes is making a difference.
“It's been an exceptional year because for the first time since the 1980s we have two calling corncrakes and this is brilliant.
“The birds have two broods and the second brood will be hatching in late July.”
*Full story in this week's Chronicle*