Only one corncrake has been recorded on the Shannon Callows this summer.
Summer flooding in the Shannon Callows has finally gotten the better of the corncrake, which was once prolific in the area. This year it's believed the final calling corncrake in the Callows was flooded out during breeding season.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent corncrake project manager with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Pat Warner said the brave male corncrake did set up camp again on higher ground, but admitted the prospect for the corncrake in the Callows was bleak.
In 1993 there were 90 recorded corncrakes in the Shannon Callows. By 2000 this had reduced to a still quite healthy 60 birds. However since then and now numbers have decreased to just one fighting bird thanks to repeated summer flooding. "Between 2000 and the present they just took knock after knock after knock," Mr Warner said. He said the mink population in the Callows has been reduced to give corncrakes a fighting chance, however. In overall terms figures released by the NPWS show that the number of corncrakes in Ireland has decreased between this year and last from 135 calling male birds in 2011 to between 125 and 129 this year. The decrease comes as a disappointment after 18 years of continued decrease was arrested a few years ago and steady numbers over the past few years. However Mr Warner advised waiting until next year's census before getting worried.
"I have a huge health warning over the reliability of the census this year," he said yesterday (Thursday). An annual corncrake census is taken by counting the number of calling corncrakes at night. This year's census, which took place in July, was hampered by appalling weather however, making corncrake calls difficult to record and therefore the 2012 census open to question.