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Corncrake in a bird bath, I know, I know, it's serious

Stone Country Birds: female corncrake enjoying a bird bath in a patio garden on Iona May 2011Stone Country Birds: Close up of corncrake on garden patioStone Country Birds: male corncrake doing mating display on Iona garden patio May 2011 copyright Stone CountryFemale corncrake in bird bath on IonaCorncrakes disappearing into long grassCorncrake washing
Corncrake washing in bird bath on Iona May 2011Corncrake pair IonaCorncrake on hotel patioCorncrake leaving a bird bathCorncrake in bird bathCorncrake in bird bath on Iona
Corncrake in bird bath 3Corncrake in bird bath 2Corncrake in bird bath 1Corncrake doing mating display on Iona garden patio May 2011Corncrake display on garden patioCorncrake display 1
Corncrake 7Corncrake 6Corncrake 5Corncrake 4Corncrake 3Corncrake 2
Apologies to The Smiths fans but I was surprised as anyone... I was wandering through an Iona patio garden to discover the rather intimate mating display of two adult corncrakes. The female was busy bathing in a BandQ water feature, happily ignoring me and the male corncrake below who was busy doing his 'copperwing shuffle'. His efforts became more and more insistent as he strutted manfully around his arena of white pebbles while she watched disdainfully. Finally, after a few rinses, she deigned to come down to watch him close up as he showed off his rather fetching ochre tuxedo.

I was invisible in the shadows, or just deemed unimportant, and I watched for five minutes before they retired to the privacy of the long grass of a nearby field. The corncrake may be one of the rarest and most secretive birds in the UK, and I had an internal whispered monologue going round in my head from David Attenborough about how lucky we were to see this, but it felt like I really should have bought a ticket...

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