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Somerset

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.

Exploring, foraging and roosting

cranes crusing round the pen

An exciting week has seen the young cranes continue to explore their two heactare release enclosure.

It has been wonderful to see them foraging for themselves, picking off craneflies, grass moths, orb spiders and other tasty snacks in the grass, digging for roots and worms in the soft peat, and picking off insects from the surface of the pools.  They are taking short flights around the pen - and when they open their wings and take to the air it takes your breath away - they really are the most incredible and impressive of birds.

All quiet on the western front

After just over a week in their new home one the Somerset levels, the cranes seemed to have settled in to the swing of things nicely. Any worries that Amy and myself might have had about the move have dissipated and we are now into a quiet period over the next few weeks whilst the cranes adjust to and imprint onto the new area. This quite period before the release proper starts in earnest is very convenient as it not only allows the birds to settle in but also ourselves as we have also moved to Somerset from Slimbridge.

The Cranes come to the Academy

cranes in their new pens

After a very hectic couple of weeks finishing off the pre-release pens (the crane academy) in Somerset, and the WWT crew preparing the birds for their move, the 'big day'  finally arrived.  A very early start up at Slimbridge saw the first 11 birds rounded up, checked over by the veterinary team, and then popped into tall wooden crates.

Crane Academy

Have been working the last couple of weeks with a great bunch of resilient crane volunteers to finish off the release enclosure / crane academy on the Levels and Moors.   Electric fencing is now all up, two 40 x 40 m top nets are sewn together, and one of the two netted pens is fully fitted out.

Cranes on the Radio

Just finished interviewing for Radio 4's 'Saving Species' programme due to be aired tomorrow -

Tuesday 8th June - at 10am

The crew were almost as excited about the project as I am....and it really brought home to me how soon the imminent move to Somerset will be.   I'm off up to Slimbridge tomorrow to help out and am very excited to see how big these chicks have grown over the halfterm week -  More pictures of big cranes to follow!

 

Bird Bling!

A busy week coming to a close.

Much debate this week over the intricacies of monitoring of the cranes following their release - and we are getting close to reaching a decision based on what is best for the welfare of the birds and what is neccessary for the long term success of the project.