I have completed my night time surveys and had a good look at the findings, together with information from public reports, and have found that there were 32 calling male corncrakes heard (and verified) in Orkney during the survey period 20 May - 10 July.
Westray - 11West Mainland - 10Sanday - 3 Shapinsay - 3Burray - 2East Mainland - 1Papa Westray - 1South Ronaldsay - 1
(This map includes some locations of birds heard outside the survey period, and also where birds have moved).
One of the most notable things this year is the concentration of corncrakes on Westray, and the decline in numbers on Papa Westray (which in recent years has had between 5 and 10 calling birds). At least five corncrakes have been heard at the same location - or very close - to where they were last year.
Numbers for previous years, since the RSPB's Corncrake Initiative has been running, show a slight upward trend, although numbers still remain low: 2012(32), 2011(31), 2010(23), 2009(17), 2008(20), 2007(21), 2006(17), 2005(13), 2004(16), 2003(31), 2002(16), 2001(9), 2000(11), 1999(14), 1998(13), 1997(21).
Around 15 agreements have been reached with farmers and landowners to delay grass mowing or grazing, or mow in a 'bird-friendly' pattern, to protect the corncrakes on their land.
Although it is even rarer to see than to hear a corncrake, we have had a few reports of sightings this summer, including this photograph taken by some holiday makers staying in Stenness.
I have still yet to see a corncrake myself!
Although the survey period is now over, I am still grateful for any reports of corncrakes heard (852 029).