The Lower Derwent Valley NNR is one of only a handful of regular UK sites for breeding Spotted Crakes, with between one and five calling males recorded in most years. More sporadically larger numbers have been recorded, with up to 26 singing males in 1998 and 12 in 1999 and 2000. This represents a significant proportion of the 30-80 singing males recorded annually.
This year large numbers were experienced again, with up to 31 calling males involved over two main influxes – the first in early May, and the second towards the end of the month/early June. Spotted Crakes are very hard to survey with little known about habitat use on site, or indeed what these birds are doing. After the first influx and gaining the relevant permissions from the BTO, our team caught and ringed three males and radio-tagged two, allowing us to track them around the site over the course of their stay, gaining a better understanding of the species both on site and in the UK.
With the birds being largely active and vocal between dusk and dawn, it was a great team effort to cover the site and carry out this intensive survey work – many thanks as always to our great team for their efforts.