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Professor Frank Rennie with the Mace at the recent UHI Outer Hebrides graduation

Author Frank Rennie will be talking about his latest book, The Corncrake: An Ecology of an Enigma, at Stornoway Library next month.

The free event takes place on October 6 at 6 pm, and it is planned to live stream the event as well. 

The book examines how changes in farmland management throughout the twentieth century, including agricultural intensification and increasing mechanisation, have resulted in the loss of habitat for many species.

One species that has faced challenges on multiple fronts has been the Corncrake. Although once common throughout northern Europe, the Corncrake’s breeding grounds are today a fraction of what they once were. This habitat loss has put the Corncrake under immense pressure and threatens their survival in many areas.

For the past century, the details of its ecology have remained largely mysterious, thanks to the Corncrake’s preference for tall grass and annual long-distance migrations. As a result, even among ornithologists, the behaviour of the Corncrake was little known.

Indeed, until Frank Rennie’s new book was published recently, much of what was known about the Corncrake was confined to scientific papers. The Corncrake: An Ecology of an Enigma is the first full-length book to explore the elusive bird’s ecology and present this information to non-specialists. 

Ironically, despite the mystery surrounding the bird, the call of the Corncrake is familiar to many in rural areas, particularly at night.

However, there is hope for the future thanks to advances in acoustic science offering new methods to locate, identify and suggest management options to survive in the countryside and thrive.

The new understanding of the species brought to the fore by Rennie’s book, including management of its habitat in Europe, Asia, and Africa, portends well that the future of this fascinating bird may not be so bleak as before.

As in-person places are numbered, the Western Isles Library Service advises that seats be booked via or by contacting the library directly on 01851 822744 or on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..