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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.

The main problem with thistles is that when the birds stand on them at rosette stage, the prickles can break off under the young cranes skin leading to limps or worse. You might think a temporary limp might not be the end of the world. However, because the birds are growing so quickly and are prone to leg problems, a limp causing the bird to exert unequal pressure on one leg can be very serious indeed. 

The thistles have become a more serious problem since now one of our cranes, Minnie (who else would be that mental), has decided to try and eat them. The importance of thistle removal has now been elevated to “urgent priority” and it’s been a great relief that a number of volunteers from Slimbridge HQ have been leaving their office jobs during their lunch breaks and in their spare time to help us at Crane school. We cannot thank them enough and most recently Nick and Kathy, from membership for the numerous bucketful’s of thistles removed last Wednesday, and if anybody else out there feels the urge to pull up a few of these spiky weeds, feel free to get in touch.

- Roland

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