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Bird Bling!

A busy week coming to a close.

Much debate this week over the intricacies of monitoring of the cranes following their release - and we are getting close to reaching a decision based on what is best for the welfare of the birds and what is neccessary for the long term success of the project. 

We plan to colour-ring the birds prior to release.  These colour rings are used widely on cranes and other species, and although they look unnatural, they have minimal impact on the birds welfare, and are a very effective way of ensuring that we know exactly what is going on with the individual birds.  They are dependent on observers, mind you - and we are keen that anyone seeing a colour ringed crane sends the details through to the website via the contact form that will soon be on line.  

In addition to the colour rings, we plan to fit very small radio tags to each bird.  These will be active for up to two years.  The main purpose for radio tags is so that we can find the birds by triangulation if they are out in the middle of an inaccessible moor and can not be visually found.  However, if the crane fly further away than we anticipate they will go out of radio contact - and perhaps to an area where they are not picked up by observers.  To overcome this, we also plan to attach a small number of satellite tags to the birds.  The beauty of these is that the brids can be remotely followed even if they fly out to sea, or half-way around the world - a scenario that we are not expecting - but that can not be ruled out!  There are many people in many parts of the world fitting satellite tags to large (and small) birds and the methods vary considerably - as does the opinion on the best design - so we are currently considering all options and will hopefully find the very best method for the Somerset cranes.

Ringed Crane
A colour-ringed crane (White-Black-Red) in Brandenburg, April 2010

A 30 gramme state-of-the-art solar powered Satellite tracking device

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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.