secret life of Cranes
There are 15 species of Crane in the world
but only one has ever been native to Britain.
The Common Crane, also known
as the European Crane, was once common in Britain, especially in East Anglia.
Inside Out investigates the comeback of this stunning rare bird which is
the subject of important conservation work in Norfolk.
the Cranes photo gallery
Hunted to extinction
town with the word 'Cran' in its title might have a history of Cranes - such as
Cranwell, Cransford or Cransley.
Drainage of wetland habitats and persecution
of these majestic birds for banquets caused their extinction by around 1600.
Cranes now have only one known nesting site in the country because of a stroke
of luck 30 years ago.
champion - conservationist John Buxton|
A pair of migrating
cranes were flying over Norfolk and settled on a marsh managed by a dedicated
He knew their survival depended on him protecting them
and keeping them secret.
John Buxton is the only person who knows the exact
location where the Cranes nest.
He has protected the birds from curious
visitors - hence the secrecy, but now he has agreed to tell Inside Out how the
Cranes survived, and to show fantastic footage of these wonderful birds.
explains the attraction of these graceful, long legged creatures:
think they are the most romantic sort of bird. They do all sorts of things like
dancing which no other bird I know does.
"I think they're very
special birds. Although they've always been in this area, they last bred here
450 years ago before they started this time in the early 1980s.
believe that protection by security and secrecy is a very important thing for
The good news
is that there is now another attempt to breed Cranes in captivity and reintroduce
them to the wild at the privately owned Norfolk reserve Pensthorpe.
- helping to re-establish Cranes|
Bill Jordan, the reserve's
owner, is passionate about getting the numbers of the bird increased.
the reserve had a lucky break when a wild Crane landed in the reserve.
may have come from John Buxton's site.
It now seems to be attempting to
mate with one of the captive females, which will be a welcome boost to the breeding
The arrival of the wild Crane is also useful in that it should
help the captive birds' chances of learning to survive in the wild, by teaching
them to fly and evade predators.
Mimicking bird behaviour
method employed at Pensthorpe is a Crane "glove puppet".
Manager, Andrew Reeve, uses it to act out wild behaviour, thus helping the young
Cranes to learn what to do.
young Crane learns from a 'puppet' bird|
Its a technique
learnt from the International Crane Foundation in America where it has been successful,
as Andrew Reeve explains:
"You have a puppet which goes
onto your hands and arm which looks like a Crane's neck.
you teach them to behave like a Crane."
The Great Crane
Project aims to boost numbers of the birds and to breed them in captivity.
all to make sure that the birds grow up behaving like wild Cranes and not to get
too reliant on humans.
The results of the project will be long term - the
conservationists hope that, in their children's lives, the East Anglian skies
will once more be graced by these beautiful birds.
In the meantime the
birds are one of Norfolk's best kept secrets.
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