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Cranes somerset

Autumn comes to the moors

Autumns rusty pallet tints the trees, as the cranes cruise around looking for maize stubble.

In the stubble... searching for maize kernels and worms

Who's with whom?

The last couple of months have been a fascinating time and we have been seeing the cranes start to form pair-bonds with lots of display, agression and interesting allegiances forming.   The chart above has all the 2010 and 2011 males in the first column and then the females that are most closely bonded to them in the second column.    The most definite and obvious pairs we have so far are:

and the coldest hour, is just before dawn....

...and also the best time to listen out for potential pairs of cranes on their territories!  

Over the last few weeks a number of intrepid volunteers have been joining me in pre-dawn surveys across the levels and moors of Somerset, to listen out for the morning reveille - the courtship bugle of a crane pairs.   They tend to do this once they have established a territory - in a wet, quiet spot with plenty of decent chick rearing habitat near by.

Un-catchable Cranes!

The Crane Project staff had a bit of an interesting experience on monday.  There had been plans this week to catch a few of the 2011 and 2010 birds and fit them with properly functioning satellite and radio tags.  It was assumed that a costumed rearer would be able to walk rigt up to the cranes, as was happening in August and September.  The cranes, however, had different ideas.  The first atttempt to get close ended up with them taking flight, with most of the birds circling low, evidently quite curious to see Dad after so long, but shortly flew a few miles away.&n

A Stranger in their Midst

Over the last month, the Crane project team had been getting reports or varying numbers of unringed 'wild'  adult cranes in with our flock of Somerset birds. During the last two weeks, however, one of these wild cranes has regularly been seen following and feeding alongside our cranes, and now seems to have made the decision to stay for the winter.  This seems to be rather wise as a migration this late in the season could most likely be unsuccessful.

Wild Cranes?

There was great surprise when yesterday (Sunday 16th October) three wild cranes were spotted feeding amongst our birds out on the Moors and Levels!  There was slight speculation as to whether these wid birds, without any leg rings, would stick around, or fly away and take all of the somerset cranes with them.  They left, heading South, in late afternoon, without any other cranes in tow, most probably trying to complete a migration that was by now well off course.  These cranes could well be the three which were spotted flying South-West across the Bristol Channel in

Cranes on Aller Moor

  Decoy cranes in Spring barley and barley stubble

Crane Wars? - Not Quite!

Over the last few days the 2010 and 2011 cranes have been getting to know each other properly in the external portion of their enclosure.  The first few encounters have been quite intense as a new (literal) pecking order is established.  As predicted, the more aggressive younger birds have been trying to assert their dominance on the older, larger and more experienced cranes, but to little avail.  Birds such as Gerald and red-yellow-white have managed to intimidate a few of the less confident older birds, but were soon put in their place by Clarence and his troops!  Surp

Crane Interactions

 

The cranes now seem fully at home in their new surrounds, and even seem to be making some new friends. For the last few mornings, the 2010 cohort of birds has been dropping in to inspect the new arrivals.  The younger birds seem most intrigued by their visitors, flying about the enclosure and standing close to the net so as to get a look at the older cranes,  so now they hopefully know what they are supposed to be.  Fingers crossed that their first interaction without the net in between will go as smoothly!

Strawberry blonds....

Here are the cranes - relaxing in their pre-release enclosure yesterday.