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Happy One Month Birthday!

picture of crane number two at one month oldTwo real highlights this week.  The first was seeing the oldest chicks at the crane school on Tuesdays – they are enormous!   The oldest hatched on April 24th so are now over one month old, over a kilogramme in weight and they come up to your knees.  In only around eight weeks these will be gleaning insects off the long grass and poking around in the wet, muddy edges of a pool created within the Somerset release enclosure. I can’t wait!

photo of   chick number 23 - one of the youngestThe second highlight of the week was an evening meeting of around thirty local people who have all volunteered their time to help the project in various ways over the coming years.   It is incredible how the project and these amazing birds have touched people’s hearts and minds in this way – and the project hopes to ensure that their enthusiasm is put to best use in various roles. 
The most pressing of these is to finish off the Somerset release enclosure before the birds arrive – a project that we will be busy on for a few weeks....

photo of    chick number 17Photos of the crane chicks - to the upper right is chick number 2, one of the oldest birds who hatched on April 24th 2010; to the left is chick number 23, one of the youngest who hatched on May 8th 2010; and to the right is chick number 17, the last egg to be collected in Germany, that hatched on 1st May and known as ‘Beate’s bird’ - feeding in a muddy pool.

We have also started work making some painted plywood crane cut-outs that will be used to assist the ‘anchoring process’ – ie making sure that the birds accept the Levels and Moors as their new home.  These will be used in combination with the provision of artificial feeding through the first year. With the birds being youngsters, and in the absence of any adult birds to show them what to do and where to feed, we will need to provide a level of artificial food for them.  In time, once the birds have established suitable feeding areas, we will be able to reduce this so that they become truly wild birds.

picture of the cutout shape  templates of cranes

Life-size paper templates of feeding and altert cranes.  The legs will be made from steel rods so that they can be pushed into the peat out on the Levels and Moors to keep the cranes up-right.

 

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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.