BY RONAN MCLAUGHLIN, PHOTOGRAPHER: Formerly an extremely common summer visitor, Corncrakes have suffered drastic population declines this century and are threatened with global extinction.
Now only present in small numbers in the Shannon Callows, north Donegal and western parts of Mayo and Connaught.
This decline is due in most part to intensive farming practices including early mowing to make silage and mechanised hay making practices which have destroyed nests and driven Corncrakes from old habitats.
Now Corncrakes are confined to areas where difficult terrain precludes the use of machinery and where traditional late haymaking still takes place.
This is perhaps Ireland’s most iconic bird, and gets my vote for our National bird, I took this video yesterday at Malin Head, Co. Donegal. An amazing experience.