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and the coldest hour, is just before dawn....

...and also the best time to listen out for potential pairs of cranes on their territories!  

Over the last few weeks a number of intrepid volunteers have been joining me in pre-dawn surveys across the levels and moors of Somerset, to listen out for the morning reveille - the courtship bugle of a crane pairs.   They tend to do this once they have established a territory - in a wet, quiet spot with plenty of decent chick rearing habitat near by.

So far - we have not picked up any territorial pairs, although the group is splitting up and pairs of birds have been seen during the day in a number of different locations across the moors with lots of territorial display...

  Lovely photo by John Crispin here taken on 5th April of Gilbert and Michaela courting.

The 15-20 minutes just pre-dawn is a truly amazing time. Many birds have a real peak of display activity just before the dawn chorus gets gowing.    Snipe are particulalry active, drumming and chipping away, with lapwing and redshank displaying too and teal piping away in the reeds.  This all quietens down once daylight comes...and we head off for breakfast!

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Damon’s role is to act as the hub of the project - making sure everyone involved knows what is going on and that it is all running smoothly. He is also responsible for project community awareness work in Somerset, construction of the release enclosure, and running the post release monitoring work in Somerset.  Damon works alongside the RSPB reserve teams in Somerset.