Slimbridge: Historic Crane Hatching

19 May 2014, 12:19 | Updated: 19 May 2014, 12:35

A crane chick has successfully hatched at Gloucestershire's Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, leading to hopes it will be the first to survive in the west of Britain for 400 years.

Bird watchers at the Trust recently set up a 'crane cam' so they could keep an eye on developments in the nest. 

The chick's 4-foot tall parents, Monty and Chris, were themselves hand-reared by The Great Crane Project reintroduction programme. 

They were released as three-month-old fledglings on the Somerset Moors and Levels, where back in the 1600s, numbers had fallen due to hunting and loss of habitat. 

The new chick is the second in as many years, but last year's died before leaving its nest. 

However, this year's chick is already out, swimming and looking healthy. 

Conservationists are now hoping this will be the start of reintroducing the species. 

Head of Conservation Breeding Nigel Jarrett said: 

"It’s incredibly exciting to be on the cusp of a new generation of totally wild cranes that will hopefully start to re-colonise parts of Britain that haven’t seen cranes for four centuries. 

"The chick hatching last year confirmed that the cranes we hand-reared were physically able to breed. 

"This year we’ve got everything crossed that everything goes in their favour and they can rear this chick.

"There’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to the return of the cranes from people across the west of Britain. They are a fantastic advert for restoring wetland habitats.” 

To see the Crane Cam, click the link above right.