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Rathlin’s bid to woo corncrake

Byy John Mulgrew

A bird thought to be on the brink of extinction in Northern Ireland is to be given a fighting chance at making a return to our shores.

At one time the corncrake’s familiar rasping call could be heard across Ulster — but severely declining numbers over the years have resulted in its almost certain extinction as a breeding bird in Northern Ireland.

But now a team from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is hoping to attract a breeding population back to Rathlin Island.

Liam McFail of the RSPB is warden for the island. “We have been working hard over the last few months with volunteers all over Northern Ireland to make sure that selected fields are in tip-top condition when the birds fly over us on the way to the Western Isles,” he said.

Work is due to include the harvesting of nettles before planting them on Rathlin, providing cover for the birds, and cutting down brambles.

It’s hoped the rare birds will return to these shores towards the end of the month and begin breeding through May and August.

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