Fans of a young corncrake family from Donegal are sending well wishes abroad in the hope that they have made it safely to Africa and will return again.
Nine corncrakes from Fanad were hatched in Fota Wildlife Park this summer as part of an emergency rescue mission. The delicate eggs had narrowly missed the blade of a lawnmower in a local farmer’s field. Only for the farmer’s extra care and knowledge of corncrake conservation efforts, they would have been destroyed.
Back in August, Donegal Daily reported on the incredible journey of the lucky eggs as they were taken to Cork under the care of members of the Corncrake Life project. Nine eggs were hatched at the park, while two of the chicks sadly did not survive as the eggs were slightly damaged.
The precious birds grew strong before being returned to the wild in Fanad, close they were found in by staff member Paul McLaughlin who has strong family connections with Donegal.
Today the Corncrake Life team have revealed the results of gender tests carried out on the Donegal birds. It was confirmed that one is male, seven are female and the other was undetermined due to a poor DNA sample.
Males in a group are an asset as their loud distinctive kerrx-kerrx call attracts more females to an area.
“Hope they are doing OK!,” a spokesperson said.
“A huge thanks to Fota Wildlife for their expertise and to all the local farmers in Fanad who are working with us to help the corncrakes in the area.”
It’s hoped that the birds have migrated to West Africa for the winter and will return to Donegal and to the Fanad Peninsula next March or April. If they do return safely, the population of corncrakes in the Fanad area will have doubled.
Fanad Head is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the E.U. Birds Directive, of special conservation interest for the Corncrake. Fanad Head has supported between 5 and 11 birds annually since 2014.