Corncrake at Oronsay RSPB reserve

Habitat

Cool, fairly thick but easily passable stands of tall grass and herbs are a crucial habitat requirement.

Which habitats do corncrakes prefer?

Corncrakes are found mainly on lowland, but range high into the mountains where suitable habitat exists within its European range. 

Natural habitats include the drier parts of fens, grassy peat-bogs and other marshy lowland areas, and alpine meadows. Man-made habitats include wet and dry meadows, tall crops (especially when weedy) and sometimes bushy forest clearings. It readily lives at close quarters to humans in areas where there is no persecution.

In Scotland and Ireland, corncrakes only persist in areas where stands of vegetation tall enough to provide cover in excess of 20cm can be found throughout the season. In spring, early cover is provided by herbaceous or marsh vegetation, such as clumps of irises and nettles prior to grasses growing tall enough. 

During the summer corncrakes utilise the cover provided by hay meadows and silage fields. Late cut grass with earliest mowing date of August 1 is important for successful nesting. Late cover is mainly provided by uncut field edges and other such areas. Corncrakes seem to prefer habitats where much of the annual production of plant material is removed each year by mowing, grazing or winter floods. Winter habitat is largely grass plains and savannah.

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