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History is made!

I am delighted to announce that some of the cranes released through the reintroduction project have raised their own chicks to fledging. This is the first time cranes have produced their own fledged young in the South West for over 400 years - quite an achievement!


One of the chicks  - flying for the first time! (photo John Crispin)

Alexander & Swampy flying with their 2 chicks (photo John Crispin)

Alexander, a 3 yr old male, and Swampy, a 4yr old female paired up in the early spring, and nested in a very quiet, small wetland area on private farmland near Ilchester, Somerset. Since their two chicks hatched in mid May, they have been raising them in the surrounding insect-rich hay meadows and pastures. The two young cranes were seen flying at the end of July.

Minnie, a 5yr old male, and Wendy, a 5yr old female nested in a very quiet, remote part of the nature reserve at WWT Slimbridge, and hatched two chicks in mid May. One of the chicks died at around a week old, but the pair continued to raise the remaining chick in pasture-land and along the sea wall defences. The young crane fledged in early August.

Minnie & Wendy and their chick (photo James Lees)

Spring of 2015 saw sixteen pairs of cranes holding territories across the South West of the UK . Most were across the Somerset levels and Moors where the birds have been released but there were also pairs in South Wales, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire and eastern Somerset. Of these 16 pairs, 8 went on to make nests and incubate eggs, with 3 of these going on to hatch chicks and begin chick-rearing.

To have 2 of these pairs then raise birds to fledging is a great success - and is a land-mark moment for the project.

Huge thanks go to the team of local volunteers who have put hundreds of hours in this spring helping locate pairs and monitor and protect breeding pairs from disturbance. WELL DONE!... and here's to next year when we may have twice as many pairs making breeding attempts! A number of local farmers and landowners have also been responsible for helping to make the breeding attempts a success and thanks go to them all for their goodwill and assistance.

It is somewhat fitting that Swampy - the mother of the two chicks in Somerset, was championed by Viridor Credits Environmental Company. Viridor Credits have provided most of the funding for the project - and without them, there would be no cranes back in Somerset. Swampy was also one of the cranes that needed a lot of extra help along the way following a fairly serious injury after release. You can read more about Swampy and all the individual cranes and their efforts this year on the 'meet the cranes' pages.

Together, we are a step closer to our target of 20 breeding pairs across the South West by 2025.

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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.