Last update: 17.05.2019

Corncrakes are back!

The first Corncrake of this spring within the LIFE+ project area in Dviete floodplain was heard in the fields at Viesīte river in the evening of May 9. According to the news of website, in several other areas of Latvia first Corncrakes were observed already on May 3 and 4. The Corncrake is migratory bird, wintering in Africa, to the south from Sahara. They return in their breeding sites in Europe rather late, in Latvia usually in the beginning of May.

Dviete floodplain nature park is one of the most important breeding sites of the Corncrake both in Latvia and in Europe. According to earlier estimates, 40-100 pairs of Corncrakes breed there. More accurate estimation will be available after proceeding of data from Corncrake counts, carried out within the LIFE+ project. The Corncrake is a target species of the LIFE+ project DVIETE. Making conditions, appropriate for the Corncrake, also other protected grassland bird and plant species will benefit.

Recently appropriate habitats for the Corncrake in the area of project activities – the narrowest and most overgrown with bushes part of the nature park between the bridge of Bebrene-Dviete road and Skuķu lake – was lacking. Open areas are considerably increased here due to the bush-cutting done within the LIFE+ project during the last winter. Thus we hope for returning Corncrakes also there. The number of Corncrakes within the site of project activities will be monitored during the whole project course.

The first counts within the framework of Corncrake monitoring of LIFE+ project DVIETE were made in summer 2011 by Latvian Ornithological society. Corncrakes were counted in two transects within the area of project activities and in five transects outside it (Corncrake counts took place in those 5 transects already during the years 2006-2009). Monitoring will be continued during the whole project course to estimate changes in Corncrake numbers and distribution, caused by habitat restoration actions. Five transects outside the area of project activities but still within the nature park are arranged to obtain control data – they will reflect trends of corncrake population changes in the nature park as a whole.

In 2011 additional counts were made by the Institute for Environmental Solutions in 10 transects, arranged to cover whole Corncrake population of the Dviete floodplain nature park. It was necessary to combine habitat data with data on distribution of Corncrake breeding territories in order to elaborate habitat model for the species.

Ilze Priedniece, Edmunds Račinskis