As readers of my blog will know, I am happy to photograph any species, including those that I have photographed many times before, indeed it's not uncommon for me to visit the same species several times looking for better images along with something a bit different to what I already have.

But it is also good to photograph new species.  For many years, the Corncrake has been the bird that I have most wanted to see in Britain.

They have a limited range that includes a few sites in Cambridgeshire fairly close to my home, but by far the best chance to see them is a visit to some of the islands of North West Scotland such as Uist, Iona, or Mull.  Even when you are at a known Corncrake site, they can be a notoriously hard bird to see, and even harder to photograph, so a targeted visit is the best way to increase the chances. 

For a number of months, I have been planning a visit to Uist in the Outer Hebrides with my photographic friend Ian Haskell with a number of different photographic targets of differing species.  But Corncrake was high on my list of species to photograph during this visit to Scotland.

We were lucky, during our time on Uist, we managed to see them on about 4 or 5 occasions during our stay including at dusk on our very first evening on the island.  At one point we could see three birds at once, so great views for such a shy species.  

A few hundred years ago, Corncrake were a reasonably common bird, but like numerous species they have been in decline and by the mid 1990's it is thought that there were lass than 500 pairs left in Britain.  But conservation efforts have seen the Scottish population rise and now 20 years later it is almost 1300 males in Scotland according to surveys of the bird.  The biggest population is on the island of Tiree which has about 500 males (equal to the whole British population in 1995).
Due to the nature of the bird they are not easy to survey, and the count is done by listening too and recording the sounds of the different males calling during the breeding period.  It has one of the most distinctive calls of any bird and sounds very relaxing whilst patiently waiting for them to show.

Corncrake are a protected bird that are prone to disturbance, and the best way to spot them is to remain perfectly still when you hear them calling, and then hope that they show themselves in the open for long enough to get a few images.


Even though I have probably seen between 300 and 400 species of British birds, there are still plenty of British species that I have yet to see.
I am always happy to see and photograph species that I have previously seen, but now I have a few Corncrake images, if I was asked to choose a new species to top my list of species to see and photograph, then it would be an easy choice for me.  The Dartford Warbler is another great British bird that I have yet to see, but that can be a target for another year.

Currently, I am very pleased to have seen and photographed Corncrake
Even though I would already like to photograph them again !!!!