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The journey with the eggs back to the UK

Back in the UK now - at Slimbridge and have been feeding the chicks....They're feisty little blighters with a real strength and determination - and are (although I may be biased) incredibly cute little birds. There is something of the reptile about them at this age - the oldest is just over a week and is about nine to ten inches tall with big sturdy legs and it really grabs the feeding spoon with some force! All that have hatched (now fourteen) are feeding well and there four more that are 'pipped' - ie they have made a hole in the egg and are fighting their way out. This can take a couple of days. There are also another seven that are moving and should hatch (according to the measurements) by the end of the week. One of the pipped ones is one we brought back yesterday on the plane - so a close call!

It was a long journey yesterday - not really sure how much easier it was going by plane - although it did knock around five hours off the total journey. We left the mill with the eggs at around 6.45 and drove to Berlin station. Roland was carrying the incubator with the battery in a rucksac on his back with wires coming out the rucksac round to the incubator cradled in his hands. The incubator itself is a robust square box with a red led light display sticking out the side with a number dial, and with an internal thermostat that makes a regular ticking noise. Also, each time you reconnect it - it emits a 10 second long high pitched alarm. If you were to descibe an improvised bomb - describing this incubators would be fairly close. We were both a bit concerned about this - in particular the thought of over-zealous armed police....but our fears were unneccessary ones.

The train ride to Hamburg was smooth - and we caught a taxi to the airport. Check in went well, and although we had a slightly tense moment in the security clearance zone as the entire airports security staff surrounded us for a while, we were finally let through. The eggs had to be checked to ensure that they did not contain explosives but this was done without handling them. The incubator went through the scanner along with the batteries, but the eggs were carried through to avoid the powerful xray machines which could potentially damage the embryos. Left a little later than scheduled on the plane - arriving back in the UK at 2.30pm. Entry through border control and customs went very smoothly too and we were soon in a hire car negotiating bank holiday Friday afternoon traffic on the M4.

The eggs were put into the safety of the incubators as soon as we arrived at Slimbridge and after a sneaky peak at the chicks I headed off to bed - pretty shattered but so glad that we had acheived what we had set out to do and that stage one was now over. However I was also very aware, that rather than anything being over - this is really the moment when it all begins!

Photos below - Roland boarding the plane, Roland waiting at the airport; and back at Slimbridge, a one week old chick.

Roland and the eggs boarding the plane

Roland and incubator at the airport

One week old crane chick

 

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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.