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A secret revealed

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Crane artwork by Mike Langham. It’s 40 years since cranes returned to the Broads in Norfolk having been absent as breeding bird from the UK for some 400 years. Chris Durdin, co-author of The Norfolk Cranes’ Story , tells their story. This is the 4 th and final blog of four blogs. The full story is in The Norfolk Cranes’ Story book, which recently came out in paperback. See www.norfolkcranes.co.uk for how to buy a copy. A secret revealed When the cranes first returned to Horsey, secrecy was an important part of protecting them. It helped that cranes have a knack of disappearing from view during the breeding season. There were rumours that the birds were ‘escapes’, which discouraged some birdwatchers from wanting to see them.  But it would be easy to be unreal istic about how secret the Horsey cranes were: they are large and sometimes noisy birds and word of their presence spread. As the veil lifted somewhat, information was published in bird reports and books. Bu

Cranes in the UK – a brief history

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It’s 40 years since cranes returned to the Broads in Norfolk having been absent as breeding bird from the UK for some 400 years. Chris Durdin, co-author of The Norfolk Cranes’ Story , tells their story. This is part 3 of four blogs.  The full story is in The Norfolk Cranes’ Story book, which recently came out in paperback. See www.norfolkcranes.co.uk for how to buy a copy. Cranes in the UK – a brief history The return of cranes to Norfolk is a recolonisation – a distinction worth making in view of the reintroduction project in the West Country. But exactly how many cranes used to breed in Britain and Ireland is far from clear – hardly surprising as they may not have bred since the 17 th century. The only proof of breeding in the literature is an account of a payment for a ‘young Pyper crane’ at Hickling in 1543. Nearly 300 place names start with Cran, Carn or Tran, from the Old Norse or Anglo-Saxon names for crane. That suggests cranes were common and widespre

Why did cranes come to Horsey in Norfolk?

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It’s 40 years since cranes returned to the Broads in Norfolk having been absent as breeding bird from the UK for some 400 years. Chris Durdin, co-author of The Norfolk Cranes’ Story , tells their story.  This is part 2 of four blogs.  The full story is in The Norfolk Cranes’ Story book, which recently came out in paperback. See www.norfolkcranes.co.uk for how to buy a copy. Why did cranes come to Horsey in Norfolk? What we didn’t know in the 1980s is that cranes in eastern and northern Europe were increasing in numbers and their range was spreading westwards. With hindsight, that first colonisation more than three decades ago looks almost inevitabl e. At the time, it felt like the cranes had a very tentative and vulnerable toehold in Britain. Cranes at Horsey (Nick Upton): black bustles on this pair. Why choose Horsey? The coastal location plays a part, for a migrant bird. It’s a relatively quiet part of the Broads, with large and undisturbed reed and sedge beds su

'The biggest bloody herons'

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It’s 40 years since cranes returned to the Broads in Norfolk having been absent as breeding bird from the UK for some 400 years. Chris Durdin, co-author of The Norfolk Cranes’ Story , tells their story.  This is part 1 of four blogs. The full story is in The Norfolk Cranes’ Story book, which recently came out in paperback. See www.norfolkcranes.co.uk for how to buy a copy. “The biggest bloody herons.”  That was the farmer’s description of two birds on the marshes at Horsey in September 1979. At the other end of the phone was John Buxton from Horsey Hall, who the excited farmer had phoned. John guessed they were cranes, not least as it wasn’t the first time they’d been seen, as migrants, in the Horsey area. But this time it was different; these birds decided to stay. The first three cranes - a scan from a slide by John Buxton. Note how here they are feeding on arable. The two cranes were seen in the Hickling-Horsey area from 13 th  September 1979 and a third