Corncrake Project in Ireland

The Corncrake Conservation Project in Ireland began in 1991 as a joint initiative between BirdWatch Ireland and RSPB, with input from National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Fieldworkers in the core areas of Donegal, the Shannon Callows, West Connaught and Co Fermanagh delivered a programme of research and management, including a grant scheme for farmers. In time, NPWS assumed full financial responsibility, with BirdWatch Ireland continuing as the main delivery agents.

During this time, the populations in the core areas had differing fortunes (see Population Trends), but the only management mechanism available for many years was the seasonal Corncrake Grant Scheme, which is offered to any farmer in the core areas who is prepared to delay mowing of hay until August or September and cut fields from the centre out. However it did not provide for more strategic approaches to improving habitat, such as the creation of new areas of early and late cover, which can take some years to establish.

NPWS now manage the Corncrake conservation programme directly, deploying fieldworkers in the core areas. A number of new Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for Corncrakes were designated and several new mechanisms for making payments to farmers were introduced in these SPAs. These included the Corncrake Farm Plan Scheme, a five year scheme addressing late cutting and the creation of early and late cover areas. (see

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and the Marine (DAFM) also introduced measures for Corncrakes in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) and most recently in the Green Low Carbon Agri-Enivironment Scheme (GLAS), see


2017 results 

In 2017, 140 Corncrakes were recorded in Ireland.  This is a 17% decline since 2016 and the third year in a row that the national population has declined. 


For further information on the NPWS Corncrake Conservaion Programme, contact Ballinafad, Co Sligo, Tel 071 9666700071 or  9666700, or the Corncrake Project Officer, Marie Duffy,


For more details on any aspects of BirdWatch Ireland's Corncrake work, or to report a Corncrake, contact Anita Donaghy on


 Habitat Management Projects

Fencing early cover areas off from sheep grazing,
Gola Island, Co Donegal. 


Creating grazing exclosure on Tory Island



Creating wild bird cover on Tory 2016

BirdWatch Ireland's conservation programme for Corncrakes has been supported by the Heritage Council since 2010.  The Council has mainly been funding the creation and maintenance of early cover, particularly on Tory Island but also at the BirdWatch Ireland reserve at Termoncarragh.  The provision of early cover is a key requirement for breeding Corncrakes.

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