Migration and wintering
Thursday 14 March 2013
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The Corncrake leaves its breeding sites in August. Migration to North Africa is between September and October. Arrival at the wintering sites (mostly South of the Equator) is around November, in the rainy season.
Wintering sites are eventually abandoned when the vegetation disappears due to drought, in March-April.
Arrivals in Europe are recorded from mid-April until mid-July. Between May and mid-August, Corncrakes are present on their breeding sites where they will raise one, or more rarely two broods. Because they travel mainly at night, their movements easily go undetected and remain poorly understood. The same applies to migratory stopover sites. Knowledge about the species during the migration period is essentially limited to a few chance sightings in various open habitats (heathland, crops, meadows, ...).
Formerly, hunters were well acquainted with the Corncrake and would sometimes flush it out when driving game in habitats similar to those used by quails in late summer and autumn; they then called it the “king quail”.
The data regarding populations that migrate through France are fragmentary. Only some Corncrakes ringed in the British Isles and captured in France give an indication of their stopovers in France.