First Welsh Crane born in 400 years!

Tuesday 8th November 2016

Cranes by Lowri Watkins

Its been a few years now that there have been whisperings of cranes being seen on the Gwent Levels. Initial sightings of these beautiful birds were nearly embarrassing due to the lack of belief the recorders eyes weren’t playing them up, because these birds haven’t been seen on the Gwent Levels for over 400 years! But slowly, sightings have increased from various sources and at long last a young chick was spotted this year with a pair of adults, confirming the brilliant news that the cranes had bred.

These wonderful birds died out across the UK in the 1600s, having been a favourite of the medieval dinner table. But the Great Crane Project, a reintroduction scheme which released 93 hand-reared cranes between 2010 and 2014 on the RSPB West Sedgemoor Reserve in Somerset is starting to change their misfortunes. The adult birds spotted for several years on the Gwent Levels originate from the reintroduction Project, and the pair are only one of three that have successfully reared young this year, so they are really crucial to the project’s long-term success.

The chick has apparently been named Garan, the Welsh word for crane and it flew for the first time in August. All three have now returned to Somerset where they are likely to spend winter with the growing flock, with the new addition bringing the UK population up to about 160 birds.

Cranes make a spectacular sight and their deep sonorous call can be heard at a distance of over three miles. They need very quiet, secluded, wet areas to breed, and the Gwent Levels has provided just the right mix of habitat for the pair. We will be looking to try and ensure more habitats become suitable for the cranes to nest on the Gwent Levels and all our fingers are crossed the pair will return again to breed next year.