Corncrake – Records

Crex crex – Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant

Earlier records summarised in Corncrake – 1994

1992 – heard calling from three localities around St Davids for about a week from 25 May (JB). One Ramsey, 1 Nov (TRBS)

1993 – records of calling birds, Lower Moor (St Davids) for several nights 28 April onwards (JB), Camrose 15 May (per RM) and for several days Marloes 3 June onwards (KE).

1994 – One maybe two birds were calling in suitable habitat but there was no proof of breeding.

1995 – One called near St Davids 24 April (JB) and one heard calling at Nolton Haven 27 July (KP)

1997 – A single was flushed from Llangloffan Fen 13 Aug (RJH)

1999 – Two records, both from Skokholm, adult 26 May, then an imm 14-17 Sept (GT et al)

2000 – One flushed on Ramsey 21 Sept (SA, RS).

2002 – Two Sept records, the first at Maildy Uchaf, Granston on the 13th (SDSB) (not submitted to WBRC), the other on Skomer on the 27th – the first record there since 1988 (JGB).

2003 – Single flushed out of South Valley, Skomer 21 Sept.

2008 – The only record was one flushed on Skomer on 29th September (D Boyle)

2013 – The only accepted record was one at Whitesands Bay, St. Davids on 25th Apr (MYP). Also one on Skomer on 8th Sept (Welsh Bird Report)

2017 – A male heard calling at Bwlch y groes on 26th Aug (DB)

2020 – One at Abercastle on 11 August (D Gaunt)

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports

More about the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire

Corncrake – 2011

Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant. Not recorded in November, January or February

Breeding

Formerly a common and widespread breeding summer visitor to Pembrokeshire, as noted by George Owen in 1603 and Murray Mathew in 1894, the Corncrake has subsequently decreased and then disappeared as a nesting species.

The decline in the breeding population was underway by the beginning of the 20th century, accelerating after World War II when the introduction of mechanical mowers and the application of drainage and fertilisers permitted early cropping of hay, all of which resulted in low chick survival. The later widespread conversion from hay to silage further made farmland no longer suitable habitat for nesting Corncrakes.

Lockley et al. (1949) noted a decline in numbers from about 1916. B. Lloyd still found them in widespread localities in 1927, noting that at that time they were commoner in Pembrokeshire than they were in south-east England where the decline had set in earlier. By 1930 he noted that they were decreasing, only one or two being recorded each year, usually in September, with about equal frequency from the islands of Skokholm and Skomer and mainland sites such as Carreg Wasted, Llangloffan Fen and Pwllcrochan.

The decline continued, though K. J. S. Devonald could still encounter them around St Ishmaels in the late 1940’s and early 1950s, hearing them calling in the fields and becoming exposed at hay making time.

Nesting became increasingly sporadic: four or five clutches were revealed during silage cutting at Thomas Chapel in May 1962, from which the farmers reared three young that were released at Dale airfield. They were present in the breeding season at Uzmaston in 1965 and 1966 and at Pembroke in 1973. The BTO breeding bird atlas for 1968-72 noted confirmed breeding in 10Km squares SS19 and SN10, probable breeding in SN11 and SN04, with possible breeding in SN03 and SM72. No subsequent records have suggested breeding.

Migration

From the early 1980s onwards the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire had become a less and less frequent migrant visitor, briefly stopping off en route from African wintering grounds to northern breeding localities. The graph indicates how few have been recorded and indicates a trend towards less frequent occurrence. Notably none were reported from farmland.

Historic records show that Corncrakes have appeared as early as the 14th of March and stayed on as late as the 10th of December. Passage times since the cessation of breeding have been from the 24th of April to the 3rd of June and from the 27th of July to the 1st of November.

Stuart Devonald & Graham Rees

More about the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire

Corncrake – 1994

Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant. Not recorded in November, January or February

According to Mathew (1894) the Comcrake was a numerous and widespread breeding summer visitor between mid-April and late October. In 1927 Lloyd still found them in widespread localities and noted that they were commoner in Pembrokeshire than they were in south and south-east England. By 1930 he noted that they were decreasing. Lockley et al. (1949) stated that a decline in numbers was first noted in about 1916 and classified the Comcrake as a scarce passage migrant, adding that about 12 were recorded in the spring of 1948.

The decline continued with nesting becoming sporadic; four or five clutches were revealed during silage cutting at Thomas Chapel in May 1962, when the farmers reared three young which were released at Dale airfield, and breeding season presence was recorded at Uzmaston in 1965 and 1966 and at Pembroke in 1973. None have been found in the breeding season since. The Comcrake is now scarce on passage with only one or two being recorded each year, usually in September, with about equal frequency from the islands of Skokholm and Skomer and mainland sites such as Carreg Wasted, Llangloffan Fen and Pwllcrochan.

The earliest record was at Skokholm on 14 March 1948 and the latest a freshly dead bird at Pembroke on 10 December 1929.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire

Corn-Crake – 1949

Crex crex

In Mathew‘s day a numerous summer visitor in most parts of the county. 

Norris states that the decrease was first noted about 1916, and in 1938-9 it was said to be still numerous about St Davids.  Scarce passage migrant on the islands, and a pair bred Skokholm, 1930.  A late record: one killed Pembroke by flying into telephone wires, 10 Dec 1929 (G.C.S.I).  About twelve records of birds calling in spring 1947, and seven in spring 1948 in the whole of county.

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society 

More about the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire

Corn-Crake – 1894

Crex pratensis – Summer visitor.

The Corn-Crake is numerous in most parts of the county, where it arrives about the middle of April. We often saw it on our lawn at Stone Hall, and always had one or two nests close at hand. In the shooting season we noted it until the end of October, the latest birds being always found on wet places on high ground. We owned a setter that was very clever in catching and bringing us Corn-Crakes, and we would take the birds from him and let them go. One season he caught us a Corn-Crake several days in succession at the same corner in a field, which, we thought, indicated that the birds do not stray far from their place of birth until they migrate.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Corncrake in Pembrokeshire

Corncrake

Crex crex – Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant

Corncrake – Records

Crex crex – Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant Earlier records summarised in Corncrake – 1994 1992 – heard calling from three localities around St Davids for about a week from 25 May (JB). One Ramsey, 1 Nov (TRBS) 1993 – records of calling birds, Lower Moor (St Davids) for several nights 28 April onwards […]

Corncrake – 2011

Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant. Not recorded in November, January or February Breeding Formerly a common and widespread breeding summer visitor to Pembrokeshire, as noted by George Owen in 1603 and Murray Mathew in 1894, the Corncrake has subsequently decreased and then disappeared as a nesting species. The decline in the breeding population […]

Corncrake – 1994

Formerly bred, now a scarce passage migrant. Not recorded in November, January or February According to Mathew (1894) the Comcrake was a numerous and widespread breeding summer visitor between mid-April and late October. In 1927 Lloyd still found them in widespread localities and noted that they were commoner in Pembrokeshire than they were in south […]

Corn-Crake – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Corn-Crake – 1894

Species account from the 1894 ‘Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands’ by Rev M A Mathew