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Latest updates and news from the project

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.

Terrapins - Richards Diary part 20

Tues 4 May 2010

Hans arrives early to continue his work on the pond terrapin reintroduction project. His consignment of terrapins Emys orbicularis has arrived and he gives me a grand tour of the facilities and shows me the terrapins. They are remarkably alert and eye me suspiciously. The dark green base colour of their skin is flecked with pale yellowy-green spots, although most of the patterning is obscured by copious pond weed. The little beady eye is pale with a dark iris, except for those animals sitting under the sunlamps in their tanks with their eyes closed.

A quiet day - Richards Diary part 19

Monday 3rd May

A quiet day today and another chance to spend the morning by the mill lake, enjoying the bird life and a few more insects including the first tortoiseshell butterfly. It’s still too early for many bird migrants although the next week should see peak arrival. I drive into Angermunde, on the way spotting a very neat summer plumaged black-necked grebe on a small feldsolle and a pair of marsh harriers. A black woodpecker flies up from a field just as I get into Altkunkendorf.

Exploring the local forest - Richards Diary part 18

packing the range rover vehicle Sunday 2nd May

Another early start for Toby and Nick to leave by 7am. They pack their gear around the static incubator, which, wrapped in bubblewrap and protective cardboard, takes up most of the space. They only just get everything in. We say goodbye as I look forward to a day to explore the local forest.

Nick and Toby pack the range rover but where will they fit in?

Reedbeds to Ravensbruck - Richards Diary part 17

Saturday 1st May

I wake early, listening to newly-arrived great reed warblers on the mill lake. Outside, I locate three different males on the southern side of the lake. Despite their size and loudness, they are tricky to see. Eventually I pick off one bird hopping around in the reed leaf litter, churring. like a souped-up reed warbler. Nick and Toby are ready to do more filming and I join them to help with some ‘drive by’ shots of the truck which they haven’t yet got. We drive to a lovely spot just outside Altkunkendorf and do several takes.

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.

Eberhard's Birthday - Richards Diary part 16

Friday 30th April

We have an early start to get Roland and Damon on the 9.30am ICE train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof train station to Hamburg, where they will catch a plane back to Heathrow and a hire car back to Slimbridge with the seven eggs from the second phase collection. Damon has talked a great deal with the PR people at the train company and the airline to ensure a smooth journey back England, especially since both he and Roland will be carrying batteries attached to the incubators on board the plane.