Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 10:57 UK

Flight ban hits Slimbridge wild cranes project

The chicks will be trained to live in the wild at 'crane school'

A project to re-establish wild cranes in Somerset has been hit by flight restrictions introduced because of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK.

The eggs were being collected by a team in Germany to be hatched and raised at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire.

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) expert Nigel Jarrett has now hired a car to drive and fetch the eggs after flights from the UK were cancelled.

The eggs need to get to Slimbridge in time for hatching next week.

The intention is to release the birds on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

The team was hoping to bring the cargo back to the WWT headquarters by plane on Friday, but fear the travel disruption may mean a non-stop road and boat journey back to the UK.

Great crane project manager Damon Bridge said: "This is quite a complex operation so we've had to do some quick thinking to work out a way of getting the eggs back on time and ready for hatching early next week.

"So instead of flying them back, it looks as though they will set off on a rather epic road journey across Europe."

But he said bird experts from WWT had plenty of experience and the birds would be "just fine" on a road trip in incubators back from Germany.

The reintroduction project, which is jointly run by the RSPB, the WWT and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, will see the chicks reared and trained to live in the wild at "crane school" before being released.

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