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Collection continues - Richards Diary part 15

Thursday 29th April

We only need to collect two eggs at the most today but none of us feel complacent given yesterday’s experience. We have to get back to the mill for 2pm to meet the vet again, but the mood remains relaxed.

We stop at crane viewing site near the village of Parlow. It’s a lovely spot overlooking a moor, and a solitary crane suggests this is a good undisturbed spot to watch them. We don’t have time for a closer look, which is a pity because the moor also supports breeding bittern, lapwing and a range of other wildlife, including large copper (although it wouldn’t have been flying yet anyway).

Next, we make a quick stop at the Friedrichswalde bakery for doughnuts, then we’re off to our first scheduled crane site, but the chicks are pipping in the eggs so we leave them. We visit another reedbed site but the eggs’ vital statistics suggest they are only 12 days old and are likely to be too young to travel so we reluctantly leave them. Moving on, we pass a mixed group of young and adult cranes feeding close the road before reaching an alder swamp where we flush a pair of goldeneye.

view of crane public viewing platform
Public crane viewing platform at Parlow

The team discussing collection tactics
Discussing the day's collection tactics

Beate and Roland at one of the alder swamp sites
Beate and Roland at one of the alder swamp sites

Using technology to convert egg measurements
Converting egg measurements in estimated laying dates

Again as Beate and Roland reach the crane nest they can see that one egg has already hatched and one is piping, so they quickly withdraw. At a second alder swamp near a main road, we locate a nest with two eggs and measurements translated into estimated hatching dates suggest we should take one of the eggs, which we do, transferring it to the portable incubator. We now have egg 24. By midday we manage to locate another suitable egg from a feldsolle reedbed – egg number 25, our last, and return to the farmhouse for a drink. We return to the mill to prepare the eggs for the static incubator. With the arrival of the vet, Mr Ventland, we sit down to lunch and with the necessary papers signed by the vet, we relax and reflect on the past two days, contrasting the ease with which we collected last week with the past two days.

This is Roland’s last night in Brandenburg so after dinner we light a fire outside and sit talking until late about the crane project and many other things. The night sky is much clearer here than back home, reminding us of the remoteness of the forest and the surrounding area. Tree frogs start their usual nightly chorus - we have grown very fond of them.

This is the diary of Richard Archer, RSPB Conservation Officer for Somerset. In mid April, Richard spent three weeks as part of the RSPB/WWT/Pensthorpe crane team collecting crane eggs in Eastern Germany. These are his personal reflections on the successful German visit. You can read all of Richards Diary here.

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Richard Archer is RSPB’s Conservation Officer for Somerset, and took his sabbatical in the of Spring 2010 to help with the collection, incubation and transport of the first year’s eggs.