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release

The Final Chapter

White Yellow Black taking off

 White Yellow Black - taking off

On Tuesday we released the final batch of 17 cranes into the Levels & Moors.

 Leading the group out of the pens

The Final Chapter

White Yellow Black taking off

 White Yellow Black - taking off

On Tuesday we released the final batch of 17 cranes into the Levels & Moors.

 Leading the group out of the pens

Plumage development

Cranes on the Moor

A few of the birds are starting to show a development in plumage with their adult colours starting to appear. The necks of the birds are starting to change colour and the white on the side of their faces is replacing the once gingery juvenile plumage. One even has a little bit of red emerging on the top of its head.

Frosty mornings and winter flocking

The last two weeks have brought us some hard frosts, with temperatures in the mornings below zero. Not only did the crane monitoring team notice this change, due to chilly hands and noses, the cranes were also feeling the cold. This was visible in the changing behaviour of the separate cohorts that had formed, which now started to fragment.

A tough Decision

From time to time tough decisions have to be taken for both the good of a bird and the good of the group in general. Last week we had to make such a decision regarding Dennis. Unfortunately Dennis had not been joining in with the other birds from the start of the release; initially he did not come back to the pen to roost with the other birds, preferring to wait the wrong side of the fence in the perfect position to get taken by a fox.

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.

Finally, the day of release arrived!

So, the day in question finally arrived and it was time to release the cranes. Although it was a bit more blustery than we might have liked, we decided that because of the nature of the release site and the bird’s clear attachment to their grey suited parents and release site that things would be ok. Compared to other releases this was always going to be different, for the main part I am pretty sure that no other UK releases have costumed handlers leading the birds in question out of their pen.