Corncrake breeding tops century!
Tuesday 4 September 2007
More than 100 rare birds bred at Whipsnade for reintroduction to wild.
Celebrations are taking place at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo this week with news that more than 100 rare corncrakes have been bred this year for reintroduction into the wild.
In fact, a staggering 126 chicks have been successfully hatched and raised to chicks by keepers at the zoo, far more than was hoped and giving a massive boost to the re-introduction project at the Nene Washes near Peterborough.
The project is managed jointly by Whipsnade and the RSPB who run the reserve at the Nene Washes, Natural England who work with farmers and landowners in the area to allow these beautiful and rare birds to remain in the area and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.
At the Nene Washes each batch of chicks is first given a health check by ZSL vets and then released to the wild. The project began with 6 birds released in 200, this increased to about 55 in 2003, 75 in 2004, 78 in 2005 and 8 in 2006. This year’s number has exceeded all expectations.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo senior bird keeper Jamie Graham, who has been in charge of rearing the chicks said: “It’s just great to have surpassed 100. When we set up the project seven years ago, 100 birds was the target we’d set ourselves and this is just fantastic.
“Obviously, the more birds we can release the better the chance that they will come back and a sustainable population can be created in the Nene Washes and in England.”
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Notes to editors
- The corncrake is one of the most threatened breeding bird species in the UK. It started to disappear from the English countryside more than a century ago, because of the introduction of mechanized and intensive farming methods. Today this relative of the more familiar coot and moorhen only breeds in Britain and north and west of Scotland where conservationists have been working intensively with local crofters and landowners to ensure the bird’s continued survival.
- After release the birds will migrate to Africa and on average 10% will return.
- Breeding is carried out at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo where the eggs are incubated and hatched. The chicks are then fed around the clock on the hour for the first 4-5 days. After 10-14 days they are taken to the Nene Washes for release, once they are health checked and provided they are the correct weight.
- The secretive corncrakes nest in hay meadows and other grasslands where there is dense vegetation.
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London
- (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in field conservation in other countries worldwide.