First Uist Corncrake Festival

Corncrake, Crex crex, captive breeding. Moritz, Germany (Dieter Wendt) May 2001 RSPB

Corncrake, Crex crex, captive breeding. Moritz, Germany (Dieter Wendt) May 2001 RSPB

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THE first ever Uist Corncrake Festival is taking place at RSPB Balranald reserve on Friday, June 22nd and Saturday, June 23rd.

Marion Ferguson, information officer at the reserves, promises there’ll be plenty to keep children and adults entertained during the event: “It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she says.

“There’ll be guided walks, two free barbecues, beer and whisky tastings, and loads of free games and activities for children to get involved in too.”

Activities planned for Saturday afternoon include a ‘Machair Race’ (with a prize for the fastest!), corncrake origami, badge making, face painting and ‘pin the beak on the corncrake’, plus loads more.

And children are invited to create a corncrake picture to bring along in the afternoon to be judged in a competition at 3.30pm, with a prize for the winner.

Jamie Boyle, RSPB Balranald reserve site manager explained why the corncrake is something to celebrate on Uist: “Corncrakes were once common across much of the UK, but changes in farming practices saw the population plummet and by the early 90s it became a globally threatened species.

“But crofters and farmers here in the Hebrides, with support from agricultural schemes, have produced an increase in corncrake numbers in recent years, and that has to be worth celebrating.”

The fun of the first ever Uist Corncrake Festival kicks off at RSPB Balranald reserve on Friday at 7pm for an evening guided walk around the reserve, followed by the barbecue.

Later on, the corncrake walk will start at 9.30om and last for about half an hour.

On Saturday, family activities will run from 2.30pm till 5pm and then at 7pm there’ll be a re-run of Friday’s evening activities.

Please phone 07768042547 for more details.