Scotland's corncrake recovery offers signs of hope that humans can live with nature – Scotsman comment

Scotland’s corncrake population is showing signs of recovery after a prolonged period of dramatic declines

Some members of the older generation will remember corncrakes as one of the sounds – if not the sights – of the countryside. The “crex crex” cry of these small, shy, brown birds could once be heard in meadows and hay fields from dusk until dawn across the whole of the UK. But, in more recent years, changes in farming practices saw them experience a dramatic decline.

However, the results of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland’s latest annual survey are encouraging. It documented 870 calling males, compared to 828 last year, with the birds’ strongholds on Lewis, Tiree and Coll all seeing significant increases.

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RSPB Scotland director Anne McCall said the figures brought “hope of a turning point”, and praised the “enormous collective effort of farmers, crofters and local communities”. Relatively simple measures, such as later mowing to avoid destroying the birds’ nests, have played a part. This is real conservation in action, with local people involved in the process, and it provides evidence that humans can find ways to live with nature, without absenting themselves from it entirely.

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