Wind is bringing cranes home to roost

Large numbers of one of Europe's most spectacular birds are landing in England because they are being blown off their migration route, the RSPB believes.

Large numbers of one of Europe's most spectacular birds are landing in England because they are being blown off their migration route, the RSPB believes.

Today the EDP revealed a pair of cranes nesting at a Suffolk nature reserve are the first to breed in the Fens for 400 years.

Cranes, which have a seven-foot wingspan, have also been seen in Sussex and Oxfordshire in recent weeks.

Officials think that easterly winds are blowing the birds towards the UK as they make an annual trek from southern Europe to Scandinavia.

Experts are monitoring a crane nest at a reserve in Lakenheath, Suffolk, and think that chicks could hatch any day. The RSPB said cranes had not nested in the Fens for 400 years.

"Cranes have been popping up all over the place this spring," said a spokesman. "There is no indication that it is because of climate change. We think it is due to unusual wind patterns. It happens from time to time.''

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Staff are trying to establish whether the cranes spotted in Suffolk have migrated from Norfolk or arrived from abroad.

"Persecution and the large-scale drainage of the Fens for agriculture led to the crane's disappearance as a breeding bird in Britain by about 1600,'' said the spokesman.

"A small number returned to the Norfolk Broads in 1979 but while they have bred there successfully, the population has remained isolated and vulnerable. Their arrival at Lakenheath Fen offers hope that they may now be starting to spread into the Fens.''

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