13 June 2017

Bart and Ruby – Another year, another breeding attempt.

Some 400 years ago Great, or Common Cranes, became extinct in the UK. It was the usual sad tale of humanity persecuting another species by over-hunting and drainage of their ideal habitat and to such an extent that they disappeared from these shores.

In the 1970’s the Cranes returned of their own volition, albeit in small numbers, but it was not until 1982 that the first successful breeding occurred – in Norfolk.

Then in 2010 the RSPB, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust – based in Slimbridge and several other collaborating groups founded the game changing project known as the Great Crane Project.

The project set out to hand rear 93 Great Cranes chicks and return them to the wild on the Somerset Levels. Crane chicks learn the vast majority of their life skills from their parents, obviously not around due to the hand rearing – and so a unique approach was born – Crane School.

We won’t go into any further detail of the project and/or process involved in rearing and releasing  these birds as you can read such details in the links we’ve provided above.

And so to our heroes – Bart and Ruby are both Crane School graduates and were both hatched in 2010. They have been paired for a number of years now and have made several breeding attempts – all of which have failed at the egg stage.

Now in May/June 2017 they have tried again – and this time they have built their nest – with two precious eggs -  in a spot which is very easy to watch. Slimbridge, about 15-20 metres from Hogarth Hide to be exact.

So, watch, film and photograph is what we have been doing: Click each of the Links in turn to see how Bart and Ruby have been making us all nervous…

Part one, Part two, Part three, Part four

As Slimbridge is just short of a 200 mile round trip for us we can’t spend the amount of time we would like to documenting the nest site, but we do our best. Keeping an eagle eye on the sightings pages allows us some idea as to when is an opportune time for looong  M5 drive.

And so, after years of trying we finally heard news – one of Bart and Ruby’s eggs hatched on the 10th June – so we get up very early  and in the car with many kg’s of camera gear in tow – this time saved my back by using a set of suitcase wheels as a trolley and arrive at the hide, expecting it to be full of people, but no – our timing was perfect and there was only one intrepid observer there.

What did we see? CLICK the image to meet Bruby.

Slimbridge WWT D7200 X14 C13  12-06-2017 13-32-048

This little beauty – at only 2.5 days old it was still very wobbly on its little legs but very outgoing, the proverbial precocious youngster. We were very pleased to see both parents doing their duty and caring for the chick whilst continuing to incubate the remaining egg. Which, by the time we left, had a little beak sticking out of a hole. So we captured some 45 minutes of HD video and rather of lot of photos of the little family, which we’ll doubtless post in due course. We then went home happy.

On the M42 we were almost killed when travelling at 70mph when a BMW decided to aggressively overtake a truck when we were beside them – they didn’t even look and almost side swiped us off the road – I had to do a massive swerve and control the car to avoid the collision. When they saw our dashcam they slowed to such an extent that we lost them in traffic.

So, thanks for that…. spoiled an otherwise fantastic day.

More on the cranes later….

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