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Somerset

Tough old birds!

  Flying over Oath Lock (Paul Hockey)

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.

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.

Tamsin

A few weeks ago Tamsin, one of our female birds disappeared for two days. This was a real worry to us and we were relieved to find her again. However, when we did find her she was in a bit of a sorry state sitting down in a watery ditch. We managed to pick her up and transfer her to our recuperation facility, and after giving her a check discovered she had a large tear down her wing accompanied by swelling and bruising. This indicated she had flown into something meaning she could not fly and stay with the others.

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).

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.

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.