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cranes

Exploring, foraging and roosting

cranes crusing round the pen

An exciting week has seen the young cranes continue to explore their two heactare release enclosure.

It has been wonderful to see them foraging for themselves, picking off craneflies, grass moths, orb spiders and other tasty snacks in the grass, digging for roots and worms in the soft peat, and picking off insects from the surface of the pools.  They are taking short flights around the pen - and when they open their wings and take to the air it takes your breath away - they really are the most incredible and impressive of birds.

All quiet on the western front

After just over a week in their new home one the Somerset levels, the cranes seemed to have settled in to the swing of things nicely. Any worries that Amy and myself might have had about the move have dissipated and we are now into a quiet period over the next few weeks whilst the cranes adjust to and imprint onto the new area. This quite period before the release proper starts in earnest is very convenient as it not only allows the birds to settle in but also ourselves as we have also moved to Somerset from Slimbridge.

The cranes get their bling

Last Thursday (the 22nd), was a big day at crane school for both the aviculturist and the cranes themselves. It was the day that the birds would be fitted with all of the paraphernalia that would enable us to identify, keep track and in the case of a number of individuals build up a picture of their use of different habitat types.

The Cranes come to the Academy

cranes in their new pens

After a very hectic couple of weeks finishing off the pre-release pens (the crane academy) in Somerset, and the WWT crew preparing the birds for their move, the 'big day'  finally arrived.  A very early start up at Slimbridge saw the first 11 birds rounded up, checked over by the veterinary team, and then popped into tall wooden crates.

Flights

close up view of the crane feathers

This week has been an exciting time for us as we have seen the first flights from the eldest birds! The plumage has rapidly been developing from fluffy down into sleek waterproof feathers making the juveniles very handsome birds to look at. In this close-up you can see the last of the gingery down amongst newly developed feathers.

Crane Academy

Have been working the last couple of weeks with a great bunch of resilient crane volunteers to finish off the release enclosure / crane academy on the Levels and Moors.   Electric fencing is now all up, two 40 x 40 m top nets are sewn together, and one of the two netted pens is fully fitted out.

Video - The chick rearing process

A short video with Nigel sharing the rearing process of the young cranes at WWT's Crane School with fantastic footage of crane chicks.

Catching Cranes in Germany

  A radio tagged and ringed crane at the moment of release!

Cohorts of Cranes

a picture of cranes feeding together

Here are a couple of photos of the older birds at crane school taken on Tuesday this week.    These are all around five and a half weeks old and already nearly three feet tall, with wings growing rapidly.

Clarence takes his first steps

As you’ll have gathered from Amy’s blog, things are now settling into a routine at the crane centre with the youngsters growing nicely, some faster than others. What is becoming very evident now is that they are all starting to develop their own unique personalities. After working most recently cirl buntings, this has been quite an eye opener, as the cirls especially, being low down on the food chain were very cute but were generally like peas in a pod.