Skip to Main Content

Rolands notes from the second week in Germany

After an amazing first week in Germany seeing a vast array of species and collecting eighteen eggs, all of which were successfully brought back to Slimbridge after an epic fifteen hour drive, courtesy of a certain volcano in Iceland. Now it was time to turn straight back around and go back to Germany (thankfully flying this time), for another week of collecting, this time we would be trialling another method which involves, only taking a single egg from each clutch as hopefully the cranes would still incubate the remaining egg. If this method is successful then this would be a preferred method, as the first chick to hatch invariably kills the second, therefore, if this method is successful it should have no negative effect on the donor population.

Apart from trailing a different collection method the only other difference was the fact that we would be followed by a film crew who would be making a film about both European cranes and the project. The film crew, camera man and director / sound man where both great company and really accommodating, being wild life professionals with a great deal of experience did not request or require anything to be re-enacted. This would have been clearly impossible as when we went in to collect the eggs disturbance had to be kept to a minimum especially as this time we were hoping the parents would return to incubate the remaining egg.

When it comes to which eggs to collect there are a number of very important factors which need to be taken into consideration. Firstly; the eggs must be over ten days old and for our purposes they needed to ideally be around twenty one days old. The nests had fortunately been under surveillance by a number of keen and dedicated volunteers, so we had a good idea of the laying dates for most of the clutches. To be sure however, we also we able to use a method which involved weighing and measuring the eggs and inputting the data onto a computer program which would give us a good estimation of the hatch date. Well that was the theory; it actually involved me performing the measurements in the middle of a feldsol, shouting the dimensions to Damon on the bank up to one hundred meters away who then phoned them through to Richard in the car. This actually went surprisingly smoothly although the un-uniformity of the eggs meant that in all bar one case the values were far less accurate than those of the observers. Never trust a machine over a human I think?

After a couple of hectic day’s we had all we needed, everything was okayed by the vet and with all necessary paperwork in place we headed off for Berlin to catch the ICE train to Hamburg. All of this seemed easy however; as the person carrying a ticking box with wires leading out of it to a back-pack I had a feeling this could be the last day of my life, courtesy of some overzealous and armed security officer. Luckily for me we were being followed by the camera crew, which gave me some feeling of confidence. So apart from a slight problem over a missed email between Lufthansa and German customs that we were coming all went smoothly and finally we got back to Slimbridge approximately eleven hours after leaving Angermunde. The next stage was to get them all to hatch and successfully reared.

- Roland Digby


%s1 / %s2