Although the light brown birds might be hard to spot because they nest on the ground among long grass, virtually never taking to the air, their "crek-crek" call is easy to identify.
The harsh song of the corncrake sounds so much like a cry of despair that, in times gone by, hearing the bird was considered a bad omen in parts of Scotland.
Nowadays, most people would consider it a sign of hope that the rare species is still with us and could possibly be saved. However, to do so we need to take action.
Yesterday, a friend called Paul, who reads my blog, emailed me with this message:
On the RSPB site, the corncrake is one of the birds particularly mentioned as being at risk.
"I have just signed the RSPB's Letter to the Future. Bit tardy of me really, as they've been asking for about six months, but signing it has made a few things come into a closer focus for me. In particular, the possibility of losing the Higher Level Environmental Stewardship scheme for farms could be the death knell for many British species.
"The RSPB is using the large number of signatures on the petition as a campaigning tool with politicians, and they need as many signatures as they can, including non-RSPB members.
"Since you have environmentally sensitive readers reading Bad Witch, I wondered if you would like to post the url there? here it is: http://campaigning.rspb.org.uk/ea-campaign/clientcampaign.do?ea.client.id=13&ea.campaign.id=7241"
It would be such a shame to lose the corncrake - a bird that has featured in stories and poems for centuries - particularly in Ireland. One verse of The Song of Finn in Praise of May goes:
Corncrake sings from eve till morn,So please take time to sign the RSPB petition and make sure the corncrake's "one sweet word" is not its last.
Deep in corn, a strenuous bard!
Sings the virgin waterfall,
White and tall, her one sweet word.
The Photographic Print of Corncrake - On open ground from Ardeais available from Amazon
Photographic Print of Corncrake - On open ground from Ardea
Birds of Ireland: Facts, Folklore and History