The Department of Arts and Heritage confirmed that there were 230 calling corncrake males recorded in the country this summer— a 24% increase on the 185 that were recorded last year.
Out of the 230 corncrakes in Ireland the largest concentration was in Donegal, where 156 calling males were counted, with 108 of those on islands off the county’s coast.
The Donegal island with the largest number of corncrakes was Inisbofin with 42 and this was followed by 15 on Tory Island and 14 on both Gola and Inishmeane Islands.
The next largest concentration of the bird was found in Mayo/Connemara, where 72 were recorded with 37 found in the Mullet peninsula and 25 on the Connemara islands.
The birds return to Ireland every summer before migrating south to sub-Saharan Africa in the winter.
Between last year and 2012, the State spent €1.2m on various conservation programme measures for the bird. The largest proportion of the cash goes to farmers in population strongholds for the corncrake in Connacht and Donegal; last year, farmers received €355,173 for corncrake management compared to €545,000 to farmers in 2012.
Corncrake expert Dr Anita Donaghy of Birdwatch Ireland said yesterday: “We are surprised by this increase and would express some reservations, but until the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) provides the full data set we would not be in a position to comment further.”