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Page last updated at 07:40 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 08:40 UK
Cranes' eggs due for collection for Great Crane Project
crane school rspb
The chicks will be reared by staff in disguise

Conservation experts from Somerset will be collecting cranes' eggs in Germany as part of a plan to repopulate the Somerset Levels with great cranes.

The plan is to bring back about 30 eggs a year from a crane colony based at a reserve north of Berlin, Germany.

They will be taken to Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire for ten weeks where they will be hatched.

The chicks will be fed by staff disguised in a grey "druid outfits" to help rear them as wild birds.

The Great Cranes project is being run by the RSPB and will run over six years.

Damon Bridge, great crane project manager, said: "On Saturday this week [17 April, 2010] we go out to Eastern Germany.

"The eggs are being donated from a biosphere reserve north of Berlin where there are 400 pairs of breeding cranes.

"They started laying eggs at end of March to the start of April this year, so the adults are currently sitting on the eggs that are going to be the future generation in this country."

'Druid outfit'

The plan is to bring back 30 eggs a year in two or three batches, which will be flown across in battery powered incubators.

Once they are hatched, the chicks will be reared by two staff at Slimbridge's Crane School until they are ten weeks old where they will learn how to survive in the wild.

"It's a really difficult and demanding job; it's 24 hours a day for quite a long time.

"They have to wear something like a druid outfit. It's big grey hooded outfit which completely disguises the human form, and this is important as it's very, very easy to raise 30 very tame cranes as pets, but they will be useless in the wild.

"This disguising of the human form means they can rear the birds in a way that when they see humans they're still afraid as a wild bird would be, and need to be."

The birds will be carefully monitored throughout the process before being released at a secret enclosure on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Cranes to breed on the levels
03 Sep 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
In picture: Crane school chicks
16 Apr 10 |  Nature & Outdoors



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