We are rapidly approaching a great time to visit Connemara. May and June are the most spectacular months to visit and enjoy the vivid greens of the fresh leaves on the trees and the hundreds of flowers. This is the time that the migratory birds have settled in and are starting to breed, and the Cuckoos call can be heard from before dawn to late in the evening. The days are long and a clear evening will have beautiful sunset that leaves a fading glow on the western horizon late in to the night.
One of the best known but least seen migrant birds is the Corncrake. Once heard in every hay field and meadow they had all but disappeared until quite recently they started making a comeback with help from land owners and conservation bodies that did not want to see the birds finally disappear.
Connemara is a region that is home to a variety of unique wildlife, including the elusive corncrake. These birds have become an icon of Connemara, and their distinctive call can be heard echoing across the countryside during the summer months. The best places to hear and see them are the Aughrus Peninsula, Omey Island and Inishbofin.
The corncrake is a member of the rail family and is known for its distinctive rasping call, which sounds like two pieces of sandpaper being rubbed together. These birds are secretive and elusive, preferring to hide in tall grasses and dense vegetation. This makes them difficult to spot, even for experienced birdwatchers.
Despite their reclusive nature, corncrakes are an important part of the Connemara ecosystem. They are ground-nesting birds and require a specific type of habitat to breed successfully. This includes tall grasses and meadows with plenty of cover. Unfortunately, these habitats have become increasingly rare due to changes in agricultural practices and land use.
In recent years, there has been a concerted effort to protect corncrake populations in Connemara. Conservation organizations have worked with farmers and landowners to create habitat corridors and protected areas that are ideal for corncrake breeding.
This has included the implementation of agri-environmental schemes, which provide financial incentives for farmers to manage their land in a way that benefits wildlife. These schemes often involve leaving strips of land uncut or creating wildflower meadows, which provide important foraging and nesting sites for corncrakes.
Conservationists have also worked to raise awareness about the importance of corncrakes and their habitat. This has involved partnering with local schools and community groups to educate people about the bird’s habitat requirements and the actions that can be taken to protect them.
Despite these efforts, corncrake populations in Connemara remain fragile. However, there is hope that with continued conservation efforts, these iconic birds will continue to thrive in the region for years to come.
If you’re planning a trip to Connemara, keep an ear out for the distinctive call of the corncrake. While spotting one of these birds can be a challenge, the experience of hearing their call echoing across the landscape is one you’ll never forget.
For up-to-date information on corncrake locations and other bird news, check the BirdWatch Galway website birdwatchgalway.org. To report hearing a corncrake, call the Connemara National Park on 095-41054 or online here www.corncrakelife.ie
There is a video of a Corncrake calling on Inishbofin Facebook Page Here And another Here
There is some detailed information about Corncrakes by the National Parks and Wildlife Service Here
Connemara Coastal Cottages have properties to let near Aughrus and Omey Here
Ferries to Inishbofin inishbofinferry.ie/
Photo Credit Rachel Davies – Flickr: CORNCRAKE!!!,