Corncrake numbers increase

The €1m battle to save the corncrake from national extinction has secured a major victory, with the number of calling male birds soaring this summer to levels not witnessed for almost 20 years.

Preliminary figures released yesterday by the National Parks & Wildlife Service show numbers of male calling birds are up between 30% and 40% in 2013 compared to last year.

The massive increase in calling males prompted arts and heritage minister Jimmy Deenihan to say yesterday: “While these are only preliminary figures, they are very encouraging.

“I would like to thank all those involved, particularly the farmers and landowners who are working with my department to save this iconic bird of the Irish countryside.”

State spending on the EU-protected corncrake topped €1m in the past four years, though the department stated it was not in a position to provide the exact figure for this year.

A corncrake census last year recorded 129 males and preliminary results from the 2013 census total 184/85.

Donegal and its islands are still the bird’s stronghold, accounting for 122 or 66% of the country’s population.

Figures show a comeback in the Shannon Callows, with numbers in west Connaught increasing to 60.

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