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Sex determination

This week we had to take blood from the birds to test for various diseases, which thankfully they are clear of. This also gave us the chance to take a feather sample from each to send away for sex determination. If we do not test for this we will not be able to tell male from female until they start to breed at around 4 years old, the birds are not sexually dimorphic so both sexes look the same. The results came back today and we have 13 females and 9 males! This is an excellent ratio and we are really pleased.

Flights

close up view of the crane feathers

This week has been an exciting time for us as we have seen the first flights from the eldest birds! The plumage has rapidly been developing from fluffy down into sleek waterproof feathers making the juveniles very handsome birds to look at. In this close-up you can see the last of the gingery down amongst newly developed feathers.

A lot can change in the space of a few weeks

Well perhaps I shouldn’t have spoken so soon, the reign of Clarence as number one crane was rather short lived to say the least! After about a week and once both cohorts were relatively peaceful, or a peaceful as can be considering the inhabitants are all young cranes with occasional penchants for rather violent behaviour to each other.

Pansy

Another character in the group has been our chick colour banded ‘red/black’ who has obtained the nickname 'Pansy'. This bird has found each step in the growing up process a challenge and it took a while to get it self feeding. Eventually it plucked up the courage to explore the grassy enclosure outside where we at once discovered it was afraid of water! So much so that when it came across a puddle it would run away cheeping! It didn’t inspire us with confidence being as it’s a wetland species!

Clarence and Gemma

Clarence and Gemma cranes

Since the smaller cohorts, a group of up to six birds, have merged into one big group of twenty-two the birds have constantly been surprising us with daily changes in their group dynamics and displays of unusual behaviour.

Thistle picking and volunteers

At Crane School disease prevention is paramount and we have a lot of protocols in place to protect the birds from any nasty pathogens which might do our birds harm. One of the most important of these preventative measures was to cover the outside exercise area with twelve inches of subsoil when crane school was being constructed thus, burying any disease causing organisms that may have been present in the topsoil. This has so far worked well although on the down side it has become a wonderful seedbed for thistles.

Clarence takes his first steps

As you’ll have gathered from Amy’s blog, things are now settling into a routine at the crane centre with the youngsters growing nicely, some faster than others. What is becoming very evident now is that they are all starting to develop their own unique personalities. After working most recently cirl buntings, this has been quite an eye opener, as the cirls especially, being low down on the food chain were very cute but were generally like peas in a pod.

Happy One Month Birthday!

picture of crane number two at one month old

Two real highlights this week.  The first was seeing the oldest chicks at the crane school on Tuesdays – they are enormous!   The oldest hatched on April 24th so are now over one month old, over a kilogramme in weight and they come up to your knees.  In only around eight weeks these will be gleaning insects off the long grass and poking around in the wet, muddy edges of a pool created within the Somerset release enclosu

A young crane swims his way to fitness

Larry the young crane takes a swim

Extra PE lessons are being given to a common crane to help him keep up with the rest of his classmates. 

'Lazy Larry' – as he has been nicknamed – stands out from the 24 birds being brought up at Crane School 2010 as he seems to lack a bit of get up and go.

in

A Leap into the unknown

A busy week catching up after the excitement and travel of the last fortnight.  It really feels that there has been a quantum leap forward in the project now from what was a very long and sometime arduous and circuitous planning phase into new territory,,,,an unstoppable straightline phase with only one outcome.  The birds are growing at a phenomenal rate and the regular updates from Nigel and the team are incredible....hearing mid week that the largest chick was now over 500 grammes...or a pound (half a bag of sugar) in weight....was really unbelievable.

in