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Life on a Knife's Edge

The last couple of Months have been a very busy time indeed for the cranes.  

Bugling Away   Photo - John Crispin

We are aware of 16 separate incubation attempts so far - with other still to come and a good number of nests part-way through, or close to hatching.  It's an incredibly tense time - and watching the pairs it soon becomes apparent how the birds are only a second or two away from losing their clutch at any point.  A poor change-over - with the birds both being off the nest for a minute could lead to the nest being predated by a passing crow.  The males in particular seem a little easily distracted at the nest - and can get off to go and investigate something or other in their territory  - perhaps another crane being too close.  As incubation progresses they seem to get better at it... but a wrong decision can so easily lead to a failed attempt and a lost season.  Roe-deer bucks, testosterone-fulled and blindly charging about challenging each other, can cause the birds to leave the nest, and then of course there are the terrors of the night.... foxes, badgers, otters, mink ....to contend with.  It is truly 'nature red in tooth and claw'

A large number of local people are volunteering to help monitor and protect the breeding pairs of cranes - a huge team effort and we can not thank you enough!   We are currently mid-breeding season and are keeping an eye on 23 separate territorial pairs of release-project birds which are holding territories across the Somerset Levels, around the WWT Slimbridge Reserve, and further afield in South Wales, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire.  

More on some of these pairs soon - and what it's like to be a part of the team helping to protect and monitor them from one of the project's RSPB volunteers, Helen. 

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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.