Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 19:42 GMT
A corncrake and her crakelings: Numbers are on the up
One of Britain's most threatened birds is making a comeback.
This summer a fourth census of corncrakes in Britain revealed that the total population of singing male birds went up by 23% from 480 to 589, since the last full census in 1993.
The corncrake - a shy relative of the common moorhen - has a distinctive rasping cry that was once a familiar summer sound throughout many parts of Britain.
But its natural habitat of reedbeds, iris and nettles was frequently mowed down during harvests, destroying nests and chicks.
But the Scottish islands are the exception to this trend of good news.
This year the census on core areas recorded the first drop since 1993.
Only 543 calling birds were counted compared to 637 in 1997, a decrease of 15%.
Key areas that showed declines compared with 1997 were Lewis (down 33%), Barra (down 37%) and Skye (down 48%).
In England, at least six calling birds were found again at English Nature's Lower Derwent Valley National Nature Reserve - the last regular English breeding site - an increase on previous years.
Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's director of conservation, said: "The unprecedented increase since the last full count five years ago is excellent news.
"This bird is at last on the road to recovery."