Corncrake, Crex crex, at Oronsay RSPB reserve, Argyll, Scotland

Raise a glass to corncrakes

Corncrakes, one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds, migrate from Africa to Scotland every summer to breed. Now, you can give them a helping hand by enjoying a tipple!

Helping corncrakes

Despite recent fluctuations due to cold, late springs, conservation efforts have seen corncrakes across Scotland recover their numbers from a low of just 400 calling male birds in the early 1990s to 1,069 in 2015.

And the Orkney Brewery is doing its best to help!

This year they donated £3,555 to our corncrake conservation work, through sales of Corncrake Ale. Over the years they’ve presented us with £10,405 – a fantastic boost for corncrakes.

Norman Sinclair, the brewery's Managing Director, came up with idea for Corncrake Ale after one bird nearly interrupted the building of the new Brewery Visitor Centre at Quoyloo several years ago.

Mr Sinclair explained: “We nearly delayed work on the new building to give a corncrake calling on site a chance to breed. Fortunately for our plans the bird then chose to head elsewhere! Not long afterwards I needed to come up with a name for a new ale in a hurry, and with corncrakes fresh in my mind that’s how Corncrake Ale came about.”

“I am very pleased to be working the RSPB to offer some assistance through the success of Corncrake Ale to the Orkney bird that gave it its name.”

How does the money help?

The money raised from the sale of corncrake ale goes towards corncrake work across Scotland.

In Orkney we run The Corncrake Initiative, which aims to locate all calling males. Farmers from the surrounding area are then offered payments to delay their mowing and cut their fields in a corncrake friendly way.

Delaying mowing in these areas gives corncrakes the chance of raising at least one successful brood. In Orkney we also offer advice and support to landowners who are interested in entering into agri-environment schemes for corncrakes and other priority species. 

Raising awareness

Not only does the money support our efforts on the ground to help corncrakes, but it also raises awareness.

Having the iconic Corncrake Ale label distributed on bottles and pump clips throughout the UK will certainly bring corncrakes into conversation. Perhaps people are chatting about Orkney corncrakes over a pint, even in cities far from where you’d hear a corncrake now.

Do your bit

You can buy Corncrake Ale from major supermarkets - The Orkney Brewery currently donates 50p + VAT per case of 12 bottles and per nine gallon cask sold.