Saturday 17 April 2004
After the successful release of corncrakes chicks into the wild last summer, staff at Whipsnade are now looking forward to the 2004 breeding season
The aim of the project is to reintroduce the birds so that in years to come they will fly back to the release site to breed.
ZSL has been working on the Corncrake Project in collaboration with the RSPB and English Nature for the past few years and 2003 saw the first release of hand-reared birds into the Nene Washes.
Whipsnade will again breed the birds and hand-rear the chicks so they are ready for release into the wild at the end of the summer. Male corncrakes make a very distinctive "crex crex" calling sound during the mating season, and this season started the males started calling in late March. On the 7 April all the birds underwent the annual health check and no problems were identified.
15 females and 7 males have now been transferred to the breeding aviaries and five birds have been moved to the Bird Garden holding pens were they can be seen by visitors to the Park.
Additionally, work is being completed on the hand-rearing centre which should be finished within the next two weeks.
Baby corncrake in safe hands
Corncrakes are migratory birds that travel from Africa to breed in Great Britain, they are closely related to moorhens and coots although they tend to live on land rather than water. The birds are rarely seen in the wild as they live in thick vegetation in grassland and field corners camouflaged by their brown feathers.
Historically, the corncrake would have been a familiar farmland bird found across the majority of Britain and Ireland. However, changes in agricultural techniques have forced the bird out of many areas. Corncrakes are now only found in the Hebrides and the Corncrake Project aims to reintroduce them to the English Countryside.