July 2013. ‘The ‘Three Tenors', a trio of male corncrakes, are performing at the RSPB's Nene Washes nature reserve in Cambridgeshire, in an initiative aimed at expanding the breeding population of this scarce UK species which is the subject of a reintroduction programme in England.
Retired from breeding programme
The three birds, affectionately named the ‘Three Tenors' by staff at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust (PCT), are, in the best operatic tradition, males of European origin. The birds have been retired from the current captive breeding programme which is seeking to re-establish a breeding population in England following its extinction as a regular breeding bird in the 1980s. Their voices, rather than their genes, are now being redeployed!
Corncrake re-introduction project
As a result of studies in the 1990s, it became clear that corncrakes need access to tall (20cm+) invertebrate rich vegetation throughout the breeding season, which birds can easily walk through, and also that they are susceptible to mechanical mowing of meadows. Armed with this critical knowledge, the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, the RSPB, Natural England, and the Zoological Society of London got together to collaborate in a project to restore the corncrake as a breeding species once again in lowland England.
The site chosen for the release was the RSPB's nature reserve on the Nene Washes, near
Peterborough, due to its size and habitat suitability. The Washes are considered to be of
international importance for their spring assemblage of breeding waders and other birds of wet grassland and overwintering flocks of ducks and swans.