|Cranes - this year, 48 pairs raised 14 chicks|
THE remarkable UK comeback of the common crane is continuing apace.
According to the RSPB, the population now stands at 160 with birds in locations as far apart as Norfolk, Suffolk, Yorkshire, East Scotland, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and South Wales.
It is thought there are now no fewer than 48 pairs - the highest number since the species returned to the UK in 1978 after an absence of more than 400 years.
Says a RSPB spokesperson: "Standing at a height of 4ft, this graceful grey bird with a long, elegant neck is one of the tallest in the UK.
"Wild cranes were once a widespread breeding species before they became extinct through hunting and the loss of their favoured wetland habitat around the 1600s.
"In 1978, a small number of wild cranes returned to the UK and established themselves in a small area of the Norfolk Broads before slowly spreading to other areas of eastern England, benefiting from work to improve their habitat at Lakenheath and the Nene Washes."
This year, the 48 pairs raised 14 chicks to fledgling stage - two more than the average for the last five years.
Over the last five years, 60 chicks have been raised by wild cranes significantly adding to the UK population.
WWT Principal Conservation Breeding Officer Rebecca Lee says: "It is a dream come true!
"We devised the project so that we could kickstart a population in the west in the hope that it would expand in tandem with those that had already settled in the east, and eventually the two would meet.
“It’s still early days, but it all seems to be happening. Cranes are well on track to become a true conservation success story for the UK.”
More details are at: www.thegreatcraneproject.org.uk
* Photo: J.M. Garg via Wikimedia Commons