Will it be a happy Valentine’s day for this unlucky-in-love crane called Hattie?
A singleton crane has a new shot at romance for Valentine's day – thanks to the work of Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham.
The course of true love hasn't run very smoothly so far for Hattie, an 11 year-old Eurasian, or common, crane who, before coming to Pensthorpe had not bred sucessfully. Only after being DNA tested came the news that Hattie was actually male and then he was moved to Pensthorpe which has expertise in crane rearing and development.
Sadly Hattie lost his first mate and so experts at Pensthorpe felt it was important to play Cupid and focus on finding him a new partner.
And just in time for Valentine's, Hattie's new potential mate is an ideal match called Insh, a seven-month-old Eurasian Crane named
after the Insh marshes in the Cairngorms where the species once flourished.
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Insh arrived at Pensthorpe in early November from Highland Wildlife Park, near Kingussie, Scotland and since arriving in Norfolk, has been doing well and growing in confidence.
But, as with all match-making, it's a delicate matter getting the cranes together. Rather than putting them in the same enclosure straight away, Insh and Hattie have become neighbours in adjoining pens enabling them to casually meet while retaining their own personal space. Meawhile, the Pensthorpe wardens are keeping a close eye on the birds' behaviour to determine whether Hattie and Insh are ready to be properly introduced to each other.
Kat MacPherson, aviculture warden at Pensthorpe Natural Park, said: "Cranes can live for more than 30 years and pairs often mate for life." She added that if the cranes hit it off, they'll be given their own special love-nest.
"Once Hattie and Insh have established themselves we hope they will be going to Crane Meadow, a lovely natural setting over the river, for our visitors to see them. Hattie is a charming and inquisitive character. Having been hand-reared he is slightly imprinted, which means he has no fear of people at all. Therefore, bonding with another crane is especially important for his development and we hope that Insh will grow to be a good mate for him."