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Latest updates and news from the project

Forty Days and Forty nights

crane in flight photo credit Richard Austin

The cranes have now been 'out' for around forty days and all is going well.  All but three of the cranes are still roosting at night within the release enclosure pool, with Sedge, Reg, and Black-Green now roosting separately to the other birds, in a small body of water about half a kilometre away.  The cranes are flying out to the surrounding fields to feed during the day and are making the most of the millions of newly emerged craneflies that scramble clumsily through grasslands.  We have been using wooden painted decoys to lead the cranes out to suitable habitats, and the cranes have already discovered that wheat stubbles make good feeding, and in the next few weeks they should also discover the maize harvest stubbles that are popping up all over the place.  They are currently travelling up to 3km from the pen and the area over which they can be found feeding is rapidly expanding.

Finally, the day of release arrived!

So, the day in question finally arrived and it was time to release the cranes. Although it was a bit more blustery than we might have liked, we decided that because of the nature of the release site and the bird’s clear attachment to their grey suited parents and release site that things would be ok. Compared to other releases this was always going to be different, for the main part I am pretty sure that no other UK releases have costumed handlers leading the birds in question out of their pen.

Cranes in the News!

Earlier this week, we invited a professional photographer (Richard Austin) down to the project to try and capture some of the incredible sights that Roland Amy and myself have been party to over the last couple of weeks.  Thanks to these stunning images, the cranes have been a hot topic of the week with photographs and short pieces in both the local and national press, and we have been reminded just how much interest and desire there is in the wider community to see these wonderful birds back in the landscape.

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.

Settling in nicely

Since the excitment of moving the cranes down to their new release enclosure things have been a lot calmer. The birds seem to really love their new surroundings and have been spending a lot of their time foraging about, finding new things to eat amongst the wealth of insect fauna that is surrounding them! A lot of holes in the peat have been appearing all over the place as well, as the birds love to hunt around digging up roots. Many of the things they discover also get used as playthings to throw about and dance around before they are finally eaten!

The drive home - Richards Diary part 23

Friday 7th May

The day of the drive back across Germany and Holland arrives, and after a final tidy up, the truck is packed with the remaining incubators and other kit and we’re off. Within an hour we’re back on the autobahn travelling west towards Braunschweig, and Hannover. Early afternoon we pass Osnabruck and arrive in Holland. With a few hours to kill we stop at the Kroller-Muller museum of modern art in De Hoge Veluwe national park, a big area of semi-forested heathland near Arnhem.

The last day - Richards Diary part 22

Thursday 6th May

It’s our last day at the mill and there’s a slight air of sadness. The showery weather doesn’t help but Damon and I are determined to make the most of it. We go searching for presents for home and head for Chorin. There is a serious lack of tourist shops in the area and we settle for some items at to Brodovin organic farm shop. We get excellent views of a pair of cranes feeding in a maize field by the side of a road in Chorin and they approach to within 30m of the truck.