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Crofters and contractors on Skye are being urged to be mindful of corncrakes when cutting their silage fields this summer.
The Skye Corncrake and Crofting Partnership, with the help of National Heritage Lottery Funding through the Corncrake Calling project, are on hand to help ensure that winter feed for animals is produced and at the same time not compromising valuable habitat for corncrakes and the other wildlife that relies on these grasslands.
For the last couple of years only around eight calling males have returned to breed on the island.
RSPB Scotland Corncrake Project Officer for Skye, Shelagh Parlane, told us: ‘We can help our local corncrakes firstly by mowing in a manner that lets the young birds and adults stay in the long grass and escape to the field margins and uncut areas where they will be safe from the mowers – it’s called Corncrake Friendly Mowing.
‘Corncrakes and their chicks are in the hay and silage fields from late May until well into September so mowing in this way is extremely valuable all through the season.
‘If you can delay mowing until at least August it gives the corncrakes a chance to hatch their eggs and rear their young safely, in readiness for their long migration back to Africa.’
The Corncrake Calling project provides funding to compensate crofters and farmers for delaying mowing and, if this is not an option, then Corncrake Friendly Mowing – which is mowing from the centre outwards, is also funded.
‘Whenever you mow, this method can make the difference between life and death for corncrakes as well as lots of other wildlife,’ added Janette Sutherland of SAC Consulting Portree.