FENLAND: Cranes return after a 400 year absence say wildlife experts

CRANES are nesting in the Fens for the first time in 400 years, according to wildlife experts.The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says young cranes have been seen at its Lakenheath Fen reserve near Brandon, Suffolk, during the past week.It com

CRANES are nesting in the Fens for the first time in 400 years, according to wildlife experts.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says young cranes have been seen at its Lakenheath Fen reserve near Brandon, Suffolk, during the past week.

It comes after the 3ft tall birds disappeared when their habitats were destroyed by fen drainage.

The reappearance follows the launching of a project aimed at re-establishing cranes in Britain.


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Cranes had nested in the Norfolk Broads in recent years and made sporadic attempts elsewhere, said the RSPB.

The Fens were significant because they were traditionally the stronghold of the bird and it was hoped they would return to the area.

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In the past few days two juvenile cranes had been seen at the Lakenheath Fen reserve, creating a wave of interest for visitors.

RSPB director of conservation Dr Mark Avery said: "It is clear that cranes are yearning to become more widely established in the UK, and two pairs nesting at Lakenheath is clearly an important step in their UK-wide recovery."

Conservationists say cranes were widespread in the British Isles but vanished as wetlands were drained and hunting took its toll. Only about 1pc of the original Fens, which stretched from Cambridge to Lincoln, were left.

The Great Crane Project is is a partnership between the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the RSPB, Norfolk-based Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Viridor Credits Environmental Company

The Lakenheath Fen reserve was created out of carrot fields in the early 1990s in an effort to encourage wetland birds to return.

Site manager Norman Sillis said: "Seeing young cranes flying over the reserve makes me realise that all our hard work has been worthwhile. These are fantastic birds.

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