Common crane successfully breeds at Wicken Fen for the first time in at least 120 years

Press release
Wicken Fen - sunset over Sedge Fen
Published : 30 May 2019

A rare common crane chick has hatched at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen nature reserve in Cambridgeshire for the first time since the conservation charity acquired the nature reserve in 1899 and started species records.

Video footage and stills available (credit Michael Holdsworth):
Please note that filming the cranes will not be possible for conservation reasons.

The Trust suspects that it could actually be the first chick to be born at the reserve in over 500 years. 

The common crane is on the UK’s amber conservation list and is one of Britain’s rarest breeding birds with only around 54 pairs recorded in 2018.  

The adults can grow to over one metre tall and are mostly grey with a black, white and red feathered head.  There is a small breeding population in Norfolk, and small numbers pass through Britain in spring and autumn. But, at Wicken, cranes can actually be seen at any time of year.

Martin Lester, countryside manager at Wicken Fen said: “UK cranes typically nest in wetland habitats using materials found in the area.  As with most species, the female does most of the incubation and cares for the chicks when they’re young.

“The successful breeding of this chick is a reflection on the conservation work that we have been carrying out particularly over the last 20 years.  This work includes extending the reserve, and allowing diverse habitats to evolve that have resulted in the return of other species such as otters and water vole.”

Visitors to the reserve should be able to spot the new crane family in a few weeks once the young crane starts exploring.