Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Corncrake (Crex crex) - Hurst, Berks. 17th June 2008.

Okay I'm just settling down to watch the European Championships and still deciding whether to watch Italy vs. France or Holland vs. Romania when I receive an email informing me of a very rare sighting in the county of Berkshire. Well let's face it, it's a rare sighting over many parts of the UK and the majority of birders will probably have to travel to Scotland to have a better chance of finding one. So the email tells me a Corncrake has been heard calling from a field near Hogmoor Lane in Hurst, Berks (SU794745) so I called birding buddy Roy Rose and arranged to meet at Hurst. I arrived and met a group of the Berks regulars standing on the edge of a Wheat field and quietly joined them, Roy told me the bird had been calling very close but hadn't shown, it immediately started calling again and the grating "crek-crek, crek-crek" calls seemed only a matter of feet away. This continued and it was decided we should move away from the set-aside in the hope that the bird might show itself at the field edge, it continued to call on and off for at 30 minutes before it slowly moved out into the field. We scanned the furrows in the hope that we might get a fleeting glimpse but with no luck, after an hour or so it had moved well away and into the centre of the field without the slightest glimpse or even moving crops as it passed through them. It must have been about 9pm when listening to the Corncrake calling sporadically as it moved further across the field when all of a sudden a bird jumped up from the field and straight back down again, the six or seven birders standing next to me all saw it but only through the naked eye so I knew I wasn't seeing things but was it the corncrake?, no Pheasants or Partridges had been seen or heard so it certainly was a mystery. Minutes later the same thing happened and it certainly was in the area of the calling Corncrake which was now on the far side of the field, we headed off to meet up with a group of birders which were standing on the side of the field who told us they had seen the same thing and identified it through binoculars as the Corncrake. By 9.30 the Corncrake was in good voice and heading back across the field towards us and within 15 minutes seemed like it was on the side of the Wheat field again, we moved closer and stood at the set-aside and could hear the corncrake calling from nearby but still no sighting, a lady from a nearby house came out looking for her dog and told us she had heard the Corncrake calling 2 weeks ago whilst walking her dogs by the field and that she often hears it calling in the early hours, you have to feel sorry for the poor fella as he's obviously looking for a mate and isn't going to find one. Everybody left at 10pm with the Corncrake calling every now and then.

Corncrake are incredibly elusive, and as I learned tonight can be only a matter of feet away calling and still remain out of sight. They are also a RED STATUS species.

Added To My Year List

184. Corncrake

Added To My Life List

301. Corncrake

The Hurst Corncrake

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