Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reports of unusual nocturnal calls eventually filtered through to Obs staff on Thursday morning. Having possibly been present on the island since monday, and definitely since Wednesday, there was clearly a strange beast calling loudly from below the Obs. Not the typical eerie calls of the Manx Shearwater, this was something different. We turned the generator off as usual on Thursday night but, rather than walk down to the South End, we sat out beneath a beautiful star filled night. The calls that began at about 2300 were amazing! Obviously a Corncrake, they included the typical 'crex crex' call, but also some bizarre rasping notes and a sound akin to a party horn. Rich investigated the bird with a torch and decided to trap the migrant for ringing.

 Clearly the bizarre noises were coming from an adult Corncrake rather than from a practical joke, but the unusual squeaking cries are unlike anything we've heard from Scottish breeders or on recordings. BWP makes no mention of these calls either. Why this bird, rare in Wales, has arrived in late July (when most pairs have already fledged young) and begun to sing through the night is a mystery. Having ringed the bird it was returned to the hay field below the Obs from where it preceded to interrupt the sleep of several guests for the remainder of the night. The bird is still singing as we type! (c) Giselle Eagle

Elsewhere on the island a Redstart remains, over 30 Willow Warbler were logged and single figure counts of Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Grasshopper Warbler were noted. 


  1. I guess there is no chance it will still be around in Sept when I come with the A Rocha group

  2. Hi Richard and Giselle
    Hope your well, just thought i would mention that a Corncrake that arrived on fair isle gave an a-typical call akin to the contact calls of little owls as it happens far from the classic call.
    Keep up the good work
    Best wishes