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Rolands notes from the second week in Germany

After an amazing first week in Germany seeing a vast array of species and collecting eighteen eggs, all of which were successfully brought back to Slimbridge after an epic fifteen hour drive, courtesy of a certain volcano in Iceland. Now it was time to turn straight back around and go back to Germany (thankfully flying this time), for another week of collecting, this time we would be trialling another method which involves, only taking a single egg from each clutch as hopefully the cranes would still incubate the remaining egg.

Egg collection phase now complete

One week old  crane chick 8/5/10

Arrived back in the UK (Hull P+O ferry port) early Saturday morning having driven with Richard all the way from Angermunde to Rotterdam over Friday.  Friday’s journey was painless and pretty uneventful  -  approx 10hrs drive on easy roads in dull, overcast and occasionally rainy weather with little traffic.

Over our last few days in Germany we re-visited some of the sites where we had removed eggs a couple of weeks ago – and were really relieved to find that at least two pairs so far have re-layed, or at least, a pair of cranes has used the same nest site.

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The chicks are growing

The following week Roland has returned with the remaining eggs, which are all close to hatching. A lot has changed since he has been away, even though it has only been 7 days, and the place is full of the ‘cheeping’ and ‘purring’ sounds of hungry and feeding chicks!

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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.

Field Notes from Germany - collection continues

Roland and Beate

A busy day collecting. Photos below show Beate Blahy from Vielfalt Biosphere and Pensthorpes' Roland Digby collecting eggs in a feldsoll (field hollow), the mill pool at dawn, RSPB's Richard Archer and the RSPB's film crew in the swamp.  Finally a picture of egg 21 .... Collected and ready for incubation.

Watch the first tiny crane steps

Today we managed to catch some video footage of this crane chick's first steps after it had hatched.

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Cranes hit the news!

crane chick

The arrival and hatching of young cranes appears to have caught the eye of the press this past couple of days with some excellent news coverage.

Field notes from Germany

Alder swamp

A selection of photos from our latest adventures here in Brandenburg. An alder swamp and view across Biosphere Reserve from a drumlin (A post glacial morain that forms a small hill).

And finally....Beate collecting eggs and a crane in a typical nesting site outside of the forest in a feldsol (a pingo...or wet swampy hollow formed at the end of the ice age as the permafrost melted).

Watch the first crane eggs hatching

Just a few short hours after an epic 17 hour road trip from Germany the first eight crane chicks have successfully hatched at the special crane rearing facility at WWT Slimbridge.

Only hours after arriving the first chick hatched, followed by seven more, to the surprise and delight of me and crane ‘mummy’ Amy who had been anxiously awaiting their arrival at Slimbridge.

The next few days should see more chicks hatch at WWT Slimbridge. But in the meantime, you can share with us the special moments when the first cranes hatched!

Damon arrives in Germany

Arrived at the mill finally after an 18 hour journey by taxi, train, tube, plane, subway, highspeed train, slow train, and a lift in the crane truck courtesy of richard. All pretty smooth...especially the high speed train - known as the ice train. ( intercontinental express ). Loved Berlin station a real shrine to minimalism and industrial architecture. Also loved the doubledecker slow train...what a great way to pack in more passengers whilst giving them fantastic views!