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Latest updates and news from the project

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.

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.

Collection continues - Richards Diary part 15

Thursday 29th April

We only need to collect two eggs at the most today but none of us feel complacent given yesterday’s experience. We have to get back to the mill for 2pm to meet the vet again, but the mood remains relaxed.

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.

Second phase egg collection - Richards Diary part 14

Wednesday 28th April

Today is the start of the second phase of egg collecting and follows the pattern of the first collection. We have 1½ days to collect up to seven more eggs, and need a new permit from Mr Ventland the vet to take them out of Germany. Beate and her team will monitor sites where we have taken eggs to see how many crane pairs re-lay. Cranes normally lay two eggs.