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A trip into Poland - Richards Diary part 13

Tuesday 27th April

We get up early at 6am for a trip to the Polish side of the Oder. A quick cup of coffee and a check for passports and we’re off. Passing through Angermunde, we head south east to the border, which takes us about half an hour. We cross the bridge near Hohenwutzen into Poland. There is no passport control or barriers but there is a large open air market so we stop for a look.

Exploring the reserve - Richards Diary part 12

Monday 26th April

Beate and Eberhard have promised to take us into the core reserve areas of the biosphere today and we’re looking forward to it. Our first stop is a viewpoint at Grimnitzee where we spot osprey (‘fishadler’) soaring over the lake. This was a big hunting area during the time of Kaiser Willhelm II and remained so under Herman Goering and then Eric Honneker during GDR times. It was also a big glass making area at one stage because of the plentiful supplies of sand and freshwater.

A day to catch up - Richards Diary part 11

Sunday 25th April

A quiet day at the mill to catch up on the diary, label photos, read and relax. Damon and Roland are on their way out to Angermunde by train and are due in later this evening, so plenty of time. I manage to tune the radio to BBC World Service and listen in to UK election build up.

Visiting Oder Valley - Richards Diary part 10

Saturday 24th April

Just had a call from Nigel at ten to nine here – he is watching egg 2 hatch! I ring Beate who is very excited and she passes on the good news to Peter that he’s become a ‘new dad’. It’s still hard to believe we only collected egg 2 on Tuesday, less than 4 days ago and now have a little ginger chick, alive and kicking. Beate will talk to Peter about the estimated laying date which appears to be about a week out – useful information which we will need when planning egg collection in future years.

Evening count at a crane roost - Richards Diary part 9

Friday 23rd April

We have a challenging 4 am rise to prepare for Nigel and Roland’s car journey to Calais. Most of the journey is on good autobahn roads apart from the first bit from the mill up to Altkunkendorf which is along sandy forest tracks and cobbles. Nigel and Roland went to bed late, having checked over the travelling kit, especially the four batteries that will be needed on the journey to power the portable incubators. All of us are a little bug eyed, but there’s a sense of urgency to get everything ready and to be off as soon as possible.

The second collection day - Richards Diary part 8

Thursday 22nd April

On the second collection day we return to the northern part of the biosphere. We pass through a very intensive dairy area to get there, and Lutz points out huge maize fields, all waiting to be ploughed and planted. The maize is very attractive to cranes, especially in the autumn, but there’s very little other food once the maize has run out.

Collection day one - Richards Diary part 7

Wednesday 21st April

Beate and Eberhard arrive early. We pack carefully, making sure to remember all the important pieces of kit – portable incubator, crocodile clips to connect the incubator to the truck cigarette socket, a backup battery just in case we have problems with the truck’s socket, rubber gloves and sanitation gel for handling the eggs. We all have rubber wellies or longer waders for deeper water nest sites.

A visit to Angermunde - Richards Diary part 6

Tuesday 20th April

We are all up at a respectable 8am, despite the late night. Nigel goes quickly down to the incubator room where he spends most of the day checking the equipment to make sure that everything’s ready to receive the first eggs.

Tree Sparrows and final preparations- Richards Diary part 5

Monday 19th April continued...

Roland prepares the incubator room - Richards Diary part 4

Monday 19th April continued...Back at the mill Roland starts to prepare the incubator room (IR) downstairs. It’s critical the IR is as clean as possible to ensure the crane eggs are kept free from contamination. We start by laying down a large polythene sheet on the floor and duck taping it to the wall. This keeps dust from the floor away from the incubators. We set up a couple of tables – one for the three backup yellow incubators and one to be the preparation table for when the eggs arrive back from the field.