The Great Crane Project
The Great Crane Project team has ambitious plans to re-introduce European cranes to the south west of England, helping to restore a healthy population throughout the UK.
- Rearing of up to 100 crane chicks from wild-laid eggs taken by agreement and under licence from nests in Germany.
- Release of up to 100 juvenile cranes on the Somerset Levels.
- First breeding of released cranes by 2015.
- Establishment of a breeding population of around 20 pairs of cranes in Somerset by 2025.
- The Great Crane Project was established in 2009.
- Releases of cranes took place between 2010 and 2014, with 93 birds successfully released overall.
- The survival of released birds is just less than 80 per cent to date.
- Territorial and nesting behaviour was observed in 2013 and in 2014 one pair successfully hatched chicks. Unfortunately these chicks did not survive to fledge.
- 2015 has seen an incredible 16 pairs form and hold territories, many in the Somerset Levels and Moors, but others in South Wales, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and East Somerset. Of these pairs, three successfully fledged fours chicks.
- The project has been working to create new suitable crane breeding habitat across the Levels and Moors so the project can achieve its target of 20 breeding pairs by 2025. Currently works have been carried out on the RSPB's own landholding at West Sedgemoor and Greylake and on private land in the surrounding area.