Class of 2012 take to the air
24 September 2012
Public Affairs Officer
Wildlife lovers are celebrating this week following the successful release of 19 cranes on the Somerset Levels and Moors. This is the third such release and the youngsters, brought as eggs from Germany in April and May, will join 33 cranes already out in the wild in the South West.
The releases are being managed by the Great Crane Project, a partnership between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company. The aim is to restore healthy populations of wild cranes throughout the UK, so that people can once again experience these beautiful birds.
Damon Bridge, Great Crane Project Manager said: “All went well. Eighteen birds left the aviaries straight away, the first out of the gate was the bird named Easter Beans and Blue Black Blue was the first to fly. One bird however, Evie, was a little unsure, and spent the night in the safety of the aviary but has since left the release enclosure and joined up with some of the older birds.
“Most have taken big flights up and above the pen – some landing outside and being led back in, and many flying out on their own accord and returning under their own steam.”
“Also, all the older birds from previous years have shown great interest in the new ones – flying over, and landing near by. It’s going to be fascinating to watch how they all get on.”
The release is the latest in a series of successful developments for the project. Earlier this year, Viridor Credits confirmed further funding for the project. This will ensure that the project can release cranes for a further two years , monitor their welfare and movements, and start to create, improve and manage wetland habitats for them as they approach breeding age. The project also has a new team member. Susan Anders is now working three days a week as the Somerset Wetlands Community Officer. Susan will be building and expanding a programme of community engagement work linked to the cranes, which will be vital to the long-term success of the project.
Mr Bridge added: “It’s as if the whole project has moved to a new level this year. Our funding is confirmed and with Susan on-board we are able to start developing our work with local people, especially schoolchildren. I really can’t wait for next spring though. The first birds brought over in 2010 will then be coming in breeding condition and might, just might, start to turn their attention to nesting!”
1. The Great Crane Project is a partnership between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from 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.
2. For more information on the project, and regular updates, visit http://www.thegreatcraneproject.org.uk
3. WWT is a leading UK conservation organisation saving wetlands for wildlife and people across the world. With over 60 years experience of wetland conservation, WWT is committed to the protection of wetlands and all that depend on them for survival. WWT operates nine wetland visitor centres in the UK and manages over 2,000 hectares, including seven Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), one Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), six Special Protection Areas (SPA), Part of one Marine Nature Reserve and six Ramsar sites, supporting over 200,000 waterbirds. WWT aviculturalists’ extensive hand-rearing expertise is a vital part of the Great Crane Project.
4. The RSPB is the largest wildlife conservation charity in Europe. The Society manages over 200 nature reserves in the UK and has been involved with the reintroduction of red kites, white-tailed eagles, corncrakes and cirl buntings, with other partners, to parts of the UK. The RSPB owns and manages 3 major nature reserves in Somerset covering over 900 hectares, at West Sedgemoor, Greylake and Ham Wall.
5. The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust is a Norfolk-based conservation charity which has been working with Eurasian cranes for over a decade and has a small population of wild cranes already using its 500 acre reserve in the Wensum Valley. It’s avicultural and satellite tracking expertise form an essential part of the Great Crane Project.
6. Viridor Credits Environmental Company distributes funding through the Landfill Communities Fund. Funding is available for community and environmental projects within 10 miles (priority to projects within five miles) of an active Viridor Waste Management Landfill site. Since 1996 Viridor Credits has allocated over £70m to over a thousand projects across the UK.