Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 11:10 UK

Common cranes make surprise appearance at reserve

Cranes at Loch of Kinnordy Nature Reserve. Photo by Darell Berthon
Four cranes arrived at the Angus reserve earlier this week

Staff at an Angus nature reserve have said they are "stunned" by the arrival of four common cranes at the site.

While the large birds are known to pass over Loch of Kinnordy, near Kirriemuir, in early May, they have only ever spent "a few minutes" at the reserve.

However, a quartet of the birds, which are larger than the Grey Heron with a loud trumpeting call, have roosted overnight close to the loch.

Common cranes are more commonly seen in the northern Mediterranean.

Staff at the reserve said that despite taking flight a few times during the morning, the birds had remained close to the wetland site, allowing many of the reserve's visitors to see them.

'Majestic birds'

Hannah Morton, reserve warden said: "I have come to expect to see one of these birds flying over the reserve, or possibly landing for a few minutes, in the first week of May."

She added: "Their arrival has certainly caused a stir, with visitors flocking to the reserve to catch a glimpse of these majestic birds. "

Once common in Britain, the common crane became extinct here in the 17th Century.

Since then, the birds have established a small breeding population in England.

Cranes are seen in the east of Scotland on a yearly basis where they stop while travelling back to their breeding spots in northern Europe.

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