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Visitor blown off course

PUBLISHED: 13:42 22 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:29 07 July 2010

We all know what it is like when we get lost on a long journey so spare a thought for a corncrake which was bound for Africa but ended up in a restaurant car park in Manchester.

We all know what it is like when we get lost on a long journey so spare a thought for a corncrake which was bound for Africa but ended up in a restaurant car park in Manchester.

Fortunately the corncrake, the only globally threatened bird to breed in the UK, was rescued by an RSPCA officer and is now in quarantine at the Pensthorpe nature reserve near Fakenham.

The bird was found suffering from concussion and was battered and bruised from the in-flight experiences that led to the forced landing in Manchester.

The bird was rescued by Dave Cottingham, a Manchester RSPCA Animal Collection Officer. The bird should have flown its full migration route of thousands of miles from Scotland to the warmer climes of Africa.

The corncrake was given temporary refuge at the Three Owls Bird Sanctuary, near Rochdale.

The Sanctuary's trustee Nigel Fowler was aware of Pensthorpe's corncrake breeding programme and travelled to Norfolk with the bird.

It is known that corncrakes set out on their long and perilous migration to Africa in late summer and if they miss their 'take-off' slot they would not normally survive.

“Luckily this one has found a safe haven in our captive-breeding programme and will be nurtured by our highly experience staff,” said Tim Nevard, a trustee of the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

There has been a group of corncrakes at Pensthorpe for some year as part of its captive breeding conservation programme.

Since 2006 the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust (PCT) has bred corncrakes for the Nene Washes corncrake re-introduction programme.

The corncrake first began declining in the English countryside more than a century ago.

This secretive bird prefers to nest in hay meadows and other grasslands, especially those that have dense vegetation.

However, the introduction of intensive farming methods, particularly the mechanisation of hay cutting, led to the destruction of many nests.

Later, other changes in farming methods, such as the switch from hay to silage production, effectively ensured the bird's extinction in southern Britain.

Their major stronghold in the UK now is the Hebrides where traditional farming practices have endured.

For further information on the progress of the lost corncrake now at Pensthorpe contact the reserve on 01328 851465 or contact its website via www.edp24.co.uk/daily links.

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