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Spotted Crake, by Bob Humphreys

David Stroud, Ian Francis and Rachel Stroud

Abstract The Spotted Crake Porzana porzana is a very rare breeding bird in Britain and Ireland, with around 30–80 singing males/pairs recorded annually. Following major declines in the mid nineteenth century, it appears to have increased in the latter decades of the twentieth century, perhaps influenced by greater recording effort, although there is evidence of a decrease after 2001. The interpretation of trends is, however, greatly confounded by lack of information about survey effort. Although recording standards and data flows are poor, a comprehensive collation of published and unpublished information showed that, in most years, more than twice the number of singing males was recorded than the official Rare Breeding Birds Panel record suggests. The lack of submission of records is hampering the identification and protection of nationally important sites for Spotted Crakes, and the process to rectify this is time-consuming. Better information is needed urgently to improve our understanding of the ecology and conservation needs of this rare and cryptic species, and it is hoped that the 2012 national survey will improve knowledge and ensure that the species’ conservation needs receive greater priority in future.

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