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Class of 2012 take to the air

 Two of this years cohort lifting off.


The third year of crane relase has now taken place - and over the next couple of months another 19 young birds will begin to integrate with the 33 that are currently thriving in the South West. This release brings the South West population to 52 cranes and with it the Great Crane Project will have doubled the UK's current crane population. 


 Removing the main gate to the aviary


The release day went very smoothly with the birds not straying far from the release enclosure and one of the young birds (nick-named Pickles) actually spending the afternoon with the older birds in nearby hay meadows before being 'dropped off ' back at the release pen on a fly-past over later in the day.


 Foraging within the pen


A couple of birds ('Margaret'  - championed and named by St. Margaret's School, Taunton -  and 'Evie') wern't keen to leave the aviary that has been their home for the last 3 weeks but Margaret made it out later that afternoon - and Evie the following day. Evie then suprised us all by flying off and roosting the night with the older cohort a mile or so from the release pen - obviously not that keen on her own year group's company!


 Wycliffe and Wiz (both males) having a bit of a scrap


An essential part of the release process is to ensure that the young, naive, parentless cranes know how to respond to threats and dangers  and we carried out a 'dog-aversion' session the day after the initial release.  The human grey-suited 'crane parents' lead the group of young birds out onto the open moors and then a colleague with a dog on a long lead and I broke cover and ran towards the group.   The crane parents and cranes reacted brilliantly  -  running/flying back to the safetly of the pen. 


 Dill the dog scaring the cranes away.


Over the next few weeks, Amy, Harry and I will continue to help the birds find their feet in Somerset and integrate  - hopefully peacefully  - with the older birds.


 Blue Black Blue in the morning light.

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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.