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Eberhard's Birthday - Richards Diary part 16

Friday 30th April

We have an early start to get Roland and Damon on the 9.30am ICE train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof train station to Hamburg, where they will catch a plane back to Heathrow and a hire car back to Slimbridge with the seven eggs from the second phase collection. Damon has talked a great deal with the PR people at the train company and the airline to ensure a smooth journey back England, especially since both he and Roland will be carrying batteries attached to the incubators on board the plane. We are all anxious that this goes well and that the eggs aren’t held up at any stage. Nick and Toby will follow the eggs back to Hamburg to do some extra filming on the train and at the airport.

The journey into Berlin is straightforward and even in the rush hour traffic moves along easily. We pass through the suburbs of this great cit,y which don’t seem particularly affluent, although we don’t go right into the centre. We leave the truck in the underground car park and take the lift up into the Hauptbahnhof. It’s a stunning modern building which takes me by surprise. What’s most amazing are the split level platforms with perhaps a 100m drop between the uppermost platform and the lowest one. The team get on the Hamburg train with less difficulty than I do trying to get through the car park barrier. With the ticket machine on the left hand side and my UK right hand driver’s seat, I nip out quickly, insert the paid-for ticket and rush back to the truck before the barrier comes down again.

Back to mill, I meet up with Lutz and we drive to Beate and Eberhard’s to pick up the packaging for the static incubator. It’s Eberhard’s birthday and we’re invited to stay for lunch with Eberhard and Beate and their friend Gabby. Gustav the sheep is there of course and we make the usual jokes about Gustav sausages, and poor Florrie the lamb who did make it onto our plates. I make a mental note to ask Eberhard about naming the animals we’re eating but am distracted as usual by the deliciousness of the organic sausages.

Nick and Toby arrive back at the mill at 7pm, having travelled up to Hamburg and back on the train. Damon and Roland managed to get on the plane but the airport staff hadn’t been expecting them, despite Damon’s hard work. However, things were sorted in the end and the two of them (with the eggs) are on their way back home.

Nick, Toby and I return to the farmhouse for dinner. As it gets dark, Eberhard lights a fire at the bottom of the garden and we sit listening to thrush nightingales calling from a nearby copse. The sharp churring notes in the song separate it from nightingale which also breeds nearby. We get late phone call from Nigel – 14 chicks have now hatched which is great news, more expected imminently. We discuss how to return the big static incubator to Paderborn (near Dortmund), and the RSPB film crew kindly offer to drop it off for us, which saves a lot hassle and money. Towards midnight we leave, feeling very tired. We drive back in the dark to the mill through Peetzig, Gorlsdorf and Wolletz, along roads which are starting to become familiar to us.

This is the diary of Richard Archer, RSPB Conservation Officer for Somerset. In mid April, Richard spent three weeks as part of the RSPB/WWT/Pensthorpe crane team collecting crane eggs in Eastern Germany. These are his personal reflections on the successful German visit. You can read all of Richards Diary here.

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Richard Archer is RSPB’s Conservation Officer for Somerset, and took his sabbatical in the of Spring 2010 to help with the collection, incubation and transport of the first year’s eggs.