We are now well into the second year of the Great Crane Project – and have spent the spring and summer hatching and rearing another batch of cranes to joint the eighteen birds that were released last year. This brings the number out on the Somerset Levels and Moors to 34. After three weeks of ‘anchoring’ within a pre-release aviary through August, the 16 new birds are now free to come and go from the release pen. They are entering an exciting period in their lives as they mix with last year’s birds and explore their new habitat.
(Like this pic? You can see more recent photos at www.facebook.com/thegreatcraneproject)
All the cranes are being very closely monitored using a combination of satellite telemetry, radio tags, and colour rings to establish what habitats they are using. Last year’s birds have recently been feeding on soil invertebrates in pasture, dragonflies and craneflies, and also finding left-over grain in wheat stubble fields. They roost at night in the safety of shallow pools within wet grassland and swampy parts of the Somerset Levels and Moors.
The support of the farming community is vital in this project. In partnership with local farmers we have established plots of un-harvested maize and barley on nearby private farm land that should provide food for the birds through the autumn. The project will shortly be producing an advisory leaflet that outlines what farmers can do to help the cranes’ return to Somerset. If you would like a copy – phone Damon on the number below or contact him via the website.
The project works with local schools and community groups to raise awareness of the importance of our local wetlands for wildlife in conjunction with Somerset Art Works. This has involved painting crane silhouettes, and making crane sculptures and wire-work which you can read about here: http://greatcraneart.blogspot.com/
You can follow the progress of the project through the project teams’ blogs on the Great Crane Project website: www.thegreatcraneproject.org.uk
The Great Crane Project is a partnership between The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, The RSPB, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Viridor Credits Environmental Company. Our aim is to restore healthy populations of wild cranes throughout the UK, so that people can once again experience these beautiful birds.
For more information, please contact Damon Bridge, Project Manager – The Great Crane Project on 01458 254 414
Hi Sooty, and thank you for your comment. Yes, it's absolutely right, we cannot hope to conserve farmland birds without being in partnership with farmers. We are lucky here in the south west that we have been successfully doing so for more than thirty years. There is always more we can do however, and the hope is that we just get better and better and working in this way.
Well done especially getting the farmers with you which is so important for these schemes to succeed and we were lucky enough to see last years cranes at the end of November thanks to Damons fine instructions.If they are ever to succeed to reintroduce Sea Eagles to East Anglia they will need to learn from experience that you need to get land owners in that area as partners something RSPB and NE sometimes ignore.