Cambridgeshire

Crane chick first at Cambridgeshire Wicken Fen site in 120 years

Crane chick Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The crane chick is the first to have hatched at the Cambridgeshire reserve in at least 120 years

A "rare" crane chick is the first to have hatched at a Cambridgeshire reserve in at least 120 years, the National Trust has said.

The trust has been recording species since it acquired Wicken Fen in 1899

However, it suspects the chick could actually be the first to hatch at the site in over 500 years.

The common crane is one of Britain's rarest breeding birds, and is on the UK Amber conservation list for birds, with only about 54 pairs nesting each year.

The 4ft-tall (1.2m) birds became extinct in the UK in the 17th Century through hunting and habitat loss.

In 1979, a small number of wild cranes returned to the UK and established themselves in the Norfolk Broads.

Since then they have slowly spread to other areas of eastern England, according to the RSPB.

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption Cranes are the UK's tallest bird

The organisation carried out a survey of the UK crane population last year, which it said was the "most successful year for Britain's tallest bird... since the 17th Century".

A record 54 pairs produced 25 chicks in 2018, bringing the national total population to about 180 birds.

Martin Lester, countryside manager at Wicken Fen, said: "The successful breeding of this chick is a reflection on the conservation work that we have been carrying out, particularly over the last 20 years. This work includes extending the reserve, and allowing diverse habitats to evolve that have resulted in the return of other species such as otters and water vole."

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