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I think I used to hear corn crakes in the fields behind our house.

A pair of Corncrakes

A pair of Corncrakes

Now these two live in a box in my library in England…… I have had them for about 20 years. They were in an auction in Downham Market along with several other stuffed birds. They were mostly things like Magpies, Pheasants, Jays and Crows.  The auctioneer fortunately did not know what these two beauties were, he said ‘Lot number 48, what have we here? A pair of young partridges or something. What am I bid for these £10 and in’ etc etc and I bought them for about £20.

Corncrakes are called Crex Crex  in latin and that is the call they make. It is a sort of grating noise, a bit like you are clearing your throat. As I said I used to hear that noise a lot about 20 years ago but then I did not hear it any more. Incidentally you rarely see these birds, they are very shy and keep their heads down in amongst the long grass or corn. They have become very rare because of modern farming particularly combine harvesters.

This summer I heard ‘Crex Crex’ again coming from the field at the bottom of the garden, this year it was planted with Maize. The sound was usually late afternoon, I never heard it in the morning but I was not usually up that early. These birds are more active early morning or late afternoon/evening. Also I did not hear it making the noise repeatedly, it was just the occasional one-off ‘Crex Crex’ and then it was quiet for a while.

So I am not 100% sure that what I am hearing is a Corncrake, I have looked them up on the LPO website and they are found in Poitou-Charentes. Has anyone else heard a repeated coughing sound from a field in Poitou-Charentes!?