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Damon Bridge's blog

A brief respite

cranes in flight with mud on their feet

  Mennis, Michael (with the white face) Tamsin, and two other unidentifiable cranes in flight with mud on their feet! Photo: Kevin Harris

Fog, frost, ice and snow!

view of the released cranes flying

The released cranes flying over Aller Moor. 

The last couple of weeks of extremely cold weather has been a tough time for many birds - the cranes included.   With the help of local landowners, we have been carrying out additional supplementary feeding to ensure that the cranes remain in good condition.  In future years, once the cranes have developed and increased their knowledge of the local landscape and become less naive - this supplementary feeding should not be neccessary.

Cranes in the Community

crane decoys

The Great Crane Project has just hosted two fabulous Nature in Art Community days, where people from the local community came together with local artists and volunteers to get inspiration from the wildlfie and habitats on the RSPB's wetland reserves and then create their own painted wooden cranes.  This is part of an intergenerational project, run by Somerset Art Works. 

Missing Crane - Press Release

Conservationists in Somerset are growing increasingly concerned about the whereabouts of a crane recently re-introduced to the county as part of the unique Great Crane Project and are appealing for the public to look out for the missing bird.

The tall waterbird, carrying distinctive yellow-blue-red identification rings, was last seen on Friday evening (5 November).

Watch the Crane Release Videos!

You can watch some fantastic footage of the recent crane release, captured by the RSPB film unit

Forty Days and Forty nights

crane in flight photo credit Richard Austin

The cranes have now been 'out' for around forty days and all is going well.  All but three of the cranes are still roosting at night within the release enclosure pool, with Sedge, Reg, and Black-Green now roosting separately to the other birds, in a small body of water about half a kilometre away.  The cranes are flying out to the surrounding fields to feed during the day and are making the most of the millions of newly emerged craneflies that scramble clumsily through grasslands.  We have been using wooden painted decoys to lead the cranes out to suitable habitats, and the cranes have already discovered that wheat stubbles make good feeding, and in the next few weeks they should also discover the maize harvest stubbles that are popping up all over the place.  They are currently travelling up to 3km from the pen and the area over which they can be found feeding is rapidly expanding.

Cranes in the News!

Earlier this week, we invited a professional photographer (Richard Austin) down to the project to try and capture some of the incredible sights that Roland Amy and myself have been party to over the last couple of weeks.  Thanks to these stunning images, the cranes have been a hot topic of the week with photographs and short pieces in both the local and national press, and we have been reminded just how much interest and desire there is in the wider community to see these wonderful birds back in the landscape.

Exploring, foraging and roosting

cranes crusing round the pen

An exciting week has seen the young cranes continue to explore their two heactare release enclosure.

It has been wonderful to see them foraging for themselves, picking off craneflies, grass moths, orb spiders and other tasty snacks in the grass, digging for roots and worms in the soft peat, and picking off insects from the surface of the pools.  They are taking short flights around the pen - and when they open their wings and take to the air it takes your breath away - they really are the most incredible and impressive of birds.

The Cranes come to the Academy

cranes in their new pens

After a very hectic couple of weeks finishing off the pre-release pens (the crane academy) in Somerset, and the WWT crew preparing the birds for their move, the 'big day'  finally arrived.  A very early start up at Slimbridge saw the first 11 birds rounded up, checked over by the veterinary team, and then popped into tall wooden crates.

Crane Academy

Have been working the last couple of weeks with a great bunch of resilient crane volunteers to finish off the release enclosure / crane academy on the Levels and Moors.   Electric fencing is now all up, two 40 x 40 m top nets are sewn together, and one of the two netted pens is fully fitted out.