RSPB - Our work here on Coll
The RSPB manages 1075 ha of mire, bog, machair and dunes on the Isle of Coll. The reserve is a key site in the Corncrake Recovery Programme and a haven for wintering geese, breeding waders and farmland birds. Other wildlife includes otters, Irish Lady's Tresses and Great Yellow Bumblebees. This rich biodiversity reflects the island’s low intensity farming practices, which we are working to maintain.
Coll’s corncrakes breed on in-bye fields. We have already more than quadrupled their population on the reserve, to around 60 calling males each year. Small adjustments to farming practice made in partnership with local farmers are largely responsible for this success. These include providing early cover, mowing in August rather than July, and adjusting the arable rotation system. We are continuing to refine our techniques and share our knowledge. In 2012 there were 103 calling male corncrake on Coll, spread from Cornaigbeg down to Chrossapol. The best time to see corncrake is the last week of April and the first few weeks of May, don't expect to come in July and see one!
Other birds of the in-bye fields that benefit from corncrake conservation include skylark, twite and reed bunting, while the fields host important wintering populations of barnacle and Greenland white-fronted geese. These important habitats protect such notable species as sand lizard, belted beauty moth and the extremely rare Short-necked Oil Beetle Meloe brevicollis.
The reserve’s upland habitats include heather moorland, bog and unimproved grassland. We are working to maintain these for their plant life, birds of prey and passerines such as twite.