Rare crane chicks caught on camera in the Broads

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, N

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, Norfolk. Image: RSPB - Credit: Archant

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera at close range in the Ant Valley for the first time.

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, N

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, Norfolk. Image: RSPB - Credit: Archant

Despite their size, cranes are an elusive bird, especially in areas such as the relatively wild and remote Ant Broads and Marshes where they are rarely seen.

RSPB staff were unable to carry out usual monitoring procedure, due to Covid-19 restrictions and furloughed staff, and were unsure whether these elusive birds were breeding on site this year.

Camera traps were put out just before lockdown restrictions were imposed. Camera traps are cameras placed outside and set to capture a photo when movement is detected.

They are an important tool for collecting evidence of breeding birds without disturbing sensitive species.

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, N

Rare crane chicks have been caught on camera for the first time at an RSPB site in the Ant Valley, Norfolk. Image: RSPB - Credit: Archant


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Once restrictions were lifted, the RSPB team were able to access the cameras and discover the gems captured: the first clear photos of crane chicks recorded at that site.

Daniel Hercock, RSPB warden said: “We were not even sure the cranes were breeding this year, so to get this evidence, especially in the form of really clear photographs is fantastic.

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“Some very distant pictures were taken several years ago, but this is the first time we have caught close pictures of chicks on camera. We do a lot of work to maintain a good habitat for cranes, so it’s wonderful to see our hard work is helping nature.”

Cranes are an unusual looking bird with long legs and neck, and distinctive white and black markings.

In the 1600s the bird was hunted to extinction and remained extinct for around 200 years.

In 1979, three migrant cranes spent the winter in the Norfolk Broads, and it was from these birds, supported by conservation efforts, that the English population grew.

However, they are still a species in global decline, and the RSPB estimates there to be only around 48 breeding pairs in the UK.

The reserve where the cranes are breaking is not accessible to the public, and the RSPB does not want to share its precise location, because the species is so rare and protected.

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