[First published in The Clare People on January 15, 2019]
TURNS out we haven’t completely destroyed the natural world yet. Make no mistake, we’re giving it a fair go, what with all the crazy weather, warming seas and eco-system eradication. But despite a steadfast commitment to pollution, we haven’t quite yet made the marvel that is Earth an inhospitable ball of fire. To that end, enter the corncrake, last seen fluttering towards extinction but now very much on the comeback trail. A few years the State launched the Corncrake Project – that though sounding like an ill-fated, secret CIA black-ops programme – actually had far loftier ideals and shows that when it wants to, the State can implement a policy that actually helps the environment. The corncrake, as you will probably have gathered from a video you saw in primary school, was very much in decline in Ireland primarily due to changes in farming practices that affected corncrake nests in medows. The State set out to halt the decline and figures from the Corncrake Project Annual Report for 2018 – as reported last week – showed that the number of calling males increased by 8 per cent to 151. The report found that Donegal and it’s islands remain the national stronghold for the bird while 39 calling males were recorded in Mayo, 20 in Connemara and two in Sligo. However no calling males were recorded in the Shannon Callows for the fourth consecutive year. And the the 151 total for 2018 represents a 20 per cent decline on the 1993 total when conservation measures were first introduced. So we’re not there yet. But as Jeff Goldblum informed us in Jurassic Park, “life, uh, finds a way”. And according to the report, the corncrake has been able to find it’s way back to the meadows of Ireland, in part due to the warm weather of summer 2018. So that sound you’ll hear when the last of the glaciers melt and the sea comes rushing inland will be the unmistakable rasp of thousands of corncrakes as they claim dominion over the land. The report does express concern though over the long term survival of the corncrake in Ireland if additional measures are not put in place. Still in a world roiled by anger and all round craziness where Game of Thrones now looks less a fantasy and more a brutally prescient rendering of reality, its good to know that life can, when we put our minds to it, survive. Something worth bearing in mind given the precarious state of the planet.