I AM sad to read that the Skye corncrake population has fallen to just 13 this year ("Fears corncrakes will disappear from Scotland as habitat loss hits rare birds", The Herald, September 25). I had my life and being for 30 years on Skye, in the company of corncrakes. He (the one who claimed the territory and wanted a mate) would appear at the rear gate to my garden, from the surrounding croft, and "cretch-cretch" all night to his heart's content. To add insult to injury he would find a mate, abandon her to lay the eggs and raise the chicks, and then move on to find another, making that ear-splitting noise night and day.

We also had skylarks singing overhead, seagulls, buzzards and the smaller birds too numerous to mention adding to the delights of hearing birdlife at its full-throated best: But the corncrake? It was often difficult to spot him as he hid in the long meadow-grass, but hear him I did, often in some very unsociable hours. It led to me researching the best ear protection I could find and eventually I tracked down, in Carlisle, the type of wax earpads used by Canadian lumberjacks. Bliss! I suddenly really took to the little speckled chap with the voice that had formerly driven me daft. Hopefully there will still be corncrakes annoying the folks of Skye for many years to come.

I still use the earpads when on the bus up to Edinburgh. The crashing-about-in-potholes makes them necessary.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.

A duty to pay

I NOTE proposals for a pay-as-you-go road tax ("Pay-as-you-drive tax proposed to fund pothole repairs on Scottish roads", The Herald, September 26). We already have such a thing. It's called fuel duty.

David Adams, Glasgow G13.