News and Views from Bennetts

News | 14 March 2022

Cranes for Cranes sponsorship improves breeding potential for UK’s largest bird at WWT Slimbridge

We are delighted to have played a part in improving the breeding potential of cranes at WWT Slimbridge through our sponsorship in 2021. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust recently released an impact report looking at the results this work has had on the breeding habitat for the cranes.

How we’ve been involved

As part of the sponsorship, we donated towards the costs of habitat restoration, and we also got stuck in with some of the hard work too. We joined the team at Slimbridge for a day to learn more about cranes and their habitat, as well as helping with some heavy lifting! We moved plants to help improve the biodiversity required to create optimal breeding conditions for the cranes. But it wasn’t all hard work – our team was also treated to a wildlife safari with Reserve Manager, Dave Paynter, seeing other wildfowl, such as a Great White Egret and a Marsh Harrier.

What has happened so far?

A lot of work has gone into the development of the breeding area over the last year – 23,300 hours in total. A new island complex has been developed to give cranes a safe location for nesting, and fencing has been removed providing greater accessibility for cranes. As well as these big structural changes the team has also been working to increase biodiversity to provide more food sources for cranes. Cranes need a diverse food supply, including dragonflies, snails and amphibians, so the team has created a new large pond which is perfect for attracting this wildlife.

“Dragonflies form an important food source for the cranes during the chick growing period”

With all this work, how have the cranes got on this year?

This year there were six breeding pairs: Ruby and an un-ringed (wild) male, Kia and Chocolo, Oakie and Sherbert, Wendy and Albert, Elizabeth and Phelps, and Monty and Evie.

Despite the cold weather in April 2021, both Wendy and Albert,and Elizabeth and Phelps managed to breed in the new habitat. Each couple hatched two chicks who all, unfortunately, only survived until five weeks old. But the team at Slimbridge hasn’t let it dampen its spirits. Nature can be cruel, but with some more favourable weather this spring, paired with the improvements made to the habitat over the last year, we are all hopeful for a better outcome this year.

Looking ahead

The project is far from over, and the team at Slimbridge continues to make improvements to the habitat. So, we hope the hard work from WWT Slimbridge and the contribution from Bennetts, will mean lots of crane chicks in 2022!

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