We’re supporting WWT Slimbridge to improve the breeding chances of our native Common Cranes
Cranes are the UK’s largest bird, but until recently the species was all but extinct from our landscape for almost 400 years. Bennetts Cranes is extremely proud to be supporting the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, an organisation that was part of the Great Crane Project between 2010-2014 to raise Crane chicks and release them into the wild.
We are sponsoring a project at WWT Slimbridge, in Gloucestershire, to create a better breeding habitat for a group of Common (or Eurasian) Cranes that returns each year to lay their eggs at the reserve. We are delighted to support this work which has benefits both locally and nationally, with the aim of bolstering the population of these fantastic birds for generations to come to enjoy.
Watch out for our updates on the chicks and how they get on.
Construction has a big impact on our environment, from materials use, to carbon emissions. At Bennetts, we wanted to find a way to support a project that would improve our environment for future generations. And what better way than for (tower) cranes to support one of the tallest species of crane? The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) is one of the UK’s leading conservation charities, enhancing and preserving vital wetland habitats, and WWT Slimbridge is just a few miles from our headquarters. This allows us to not only support via financial contribution, but also to volunteer our time to the habitat restoration and see the impact the project has first-hand. Our long-term vision is to make Cranes for Cranes a national, industry-wide campaign to help secure the population of Common Cranes in the UK for the long term.
WWT itself is driving a Blue Recovery – an initiative to conserve and enhance wetlands nationally to fight climate change and help nature recover and restore our wellbeing. Download the PDF on Wetlands and Wellbeing from WWT and Mental Health Foundation.
Several conservation organisations, including WWT, collaborated on the five-year breeding programme to rear hatchlings and reintroduce the species from eggs laid in Europe. Incubation of the eggs took place at Slimbridge and the young cranes were “trained” here to thrive. They were then taken to the Somerset Levels and Moors to live but many move around the country and several (around 15) return regularly to the Slimbridge site which is adjacent to the Severn Estuary.
The reserve at Slimbridge remains one of the best places to observe these majestic birds so the plan is to transform this area to encourage the cranes to regularly visit and maybe settle and nest. This means clearing the land of scrub, taller vegetation and fences as they like flat, open spaces, and also creating islands with water-filled ditches to deter predators like foxes.
The result will lead to much better breeding, feeding and roosting conditions that provide safe refuge for the cranes and their young.
Other benefits of this work include better flood management and enhanced biodiversity as other wildlife like otters, voles, eels and dragonflies will also thrive.
Bennetts Cranes is proud to support this work and the team will be helping out with the clearance work.
Cranes are beautiful, large and majestic looking birds – they are a real show-stopper for bird watching fans. They have loud trumpeting calls and they have a courtship dance that has to be seen to be believed. Before hunting and the draining of many wetlands wiped them out, cranes were plentiful and widespread in the UK – in fact, many place names were named after them by using the pre-fix Cran, like Cranham, Cranford and Cranmore.
Our Common Cranes have slate-grey plumage with a darker back and rump and paler breast and wings. Their necks and heads are black, with a white strip, and they have a distinct red patch of bare skin on the top of their crowns. Did you know, every two years adult cranes completely moult before migration leaving them flightless for six weeks while their new feathers grow?!
The crane habitat restoration project is located at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust’s Slimbridge centre which is just 7 miles away (as the crane flies) from Bennetts HQ in Gloucestershire. This was the first WWT site set up by Sir Peter Scott who, among many other vocations, became a staunch conservationist of the UK’s wetlands. He established the Trust and centre here in 1946 which he opened to the public and from here he broadcast many TV programmes to encourage a love of nature for everyone. Slimbridge is now one of 10 UK WWT sites where you can discover a world of wetland nature.