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Somerset

Heave Ho!

Had a fabulous day yesterday with a lovely bunch of volunteers and RSPB staff getting the 'top-nets' onto the crane aviary on the Somerset Levels and Moors. 

Firstly a tangled mess of net - that had been stored out on site, within a tarpaulin, but under 1m of water at the height of the winter flood.  It had also, rather unpleasantly had been used by Mink as a latrine and a store of half-eaten duck eggs and bits of dead coot and mallard. 

Somerset's very own soap opera

The cranes have been VERY busy over the last couple of weeks.

 Tamsin on Timmy - Early March 2014

We have seen some of last year's pairings continuing to flourish, some couples spiltting, some rather 'modern' trios of birds forming, a number of new romances blossoming as well as a good number of fleeting dalliancies. 

Sven's sad end

We are sorry to report that one of this year's released birds, Sven, was reported by the daily monitoring team this Saturday on his own, with his wing hanging limply by his side.  He was caught and taken to be examined by the RSPCA at West Hatch.  Sadly, his injury was so severe that the only humane option was euthanasia, and he was put down.  We are not sure exactly what caused the injury, but it is quite possible that it was a bite from a fox in the night, or other predator.  He was a very healthy weight and apart from the broken wing, seemed in good shape.

Come Hell or High Water

... Looks like both have come to Somerset in the last few weeks.  There have been times when it has felt like the end of the world may be imminent.   Extreme winds, torrential rains, extensive flooding - mass evacuations of people and livestock... quite apocalyptic scenes and a definite reminder of the power of nature and water. 

Wild Naked Legs and wandering cranes

 60 cranes in flight over Somerset - October 2013

Duck Decoy becomes Crane Breeding Zone

The Great Crane Project has been working with a farming family near Cossington, on Somerset Levels and Moors to convert an 18th century duck decoy and Scheduled Ancient Monument, into a potential crane breeding zone.  

   Starting to fill up through the sluice.

Crane monitoring

In the last couple of weeks the team have been closely monitoring the chicks as they integrate with the older birds. There have been some wonderful interactions taking place and now most of the chicks seem to have been accepted as part of the group. It is wonderful to see them looking so at home on the levels and moors. Here are a few images from the monitoring sessions.

Through the doorway to eternity

 Yellow Red Yellow enjoying its first taste of freedom.

In the week that saw the Voyager spacecraft leave the Solar system and become the first ever man-made object to enter inter-stellar space  -  a similar epic moment has occured here on the Levels and Moors.

Creating New Wetlands

 Mr Mitchell with work just starting on the new wetland zone.

Work has started this week on the creation of a brandnew 12.5ha block of wetland on private land at the heart of the Levels and Moors.

All settled in...

 Blue Red Yellow "VIRIDOR" checking out her new surroundings.