The first wild-hatched juvenile cranes in Somerset for 400 yrs were today on Aller Moor, with their ringed parents, White Blue Black and Blue Yellow White, being somewhat picked on by other young birds from last year's release, but well defended by their parents. In total a flock of 50 birds was viewable from the River Parrett Trail footpath (north bank of the river) between Stathe Bridge and Oath footbridge. Beautiful sight and sounds in the watery autumn sunshine. There was also an unringed adult or sub-adult crane in the group (quite a pale coloured individual) and a green wing-tagged Marsh Harrier cruising around over head. Please keep to the footpath on the River Bank if you go looking for the cranes.
50 cranes still present this morning, fantastic to see the juvenile birds and as Damon says a fabulous sight and sound. Also in the area Marsh Harrier, 3 Little Egrets, Buzzard and 2 Kestrels
Thank you both for the heads up on the Cranes. It was wonderful to watch and hear them early this morning (12th Sept). A fair amount of activity as they moved between the grass pastures and the stubble fields. I could only count 48 but they were some way off and never in one large group. Looked like signs of courtship display but it seems too early for that.
Also one Crane was demonstrating its power by throwing around a huge and probably heavy weed. see pictures on my Flickr site
Also a female Marsh Harrier that landed close by.
A few Snipe going overhead, a pair of Buzzards perched up doing nothing and a Grey Heron that must have been a Cattle Egret in a previous life!
Unfortunately, just as Kay and I settled down this afternoon to watch the flock two 4x4s and a car drove up into the adjoining field, the occupants got out and the whole flock flushed into the air, gaining height and flying towards West Sedgemoor.
Belated update for Sunday 13th - There were 60 cranes present altogether and the Marsh Harrier with green wing tags was also there.
61 birds present late this afternoon, including the juvenile & the un-ringed individual. Lots of bugling & dancing - a lovely sight & sound! No sign of the wing-tagged Harrier, but Buzzard & Kestrel present & a constant passage of Swallows & Martins.
Better luck on our return visit to Aller Moor this afternoon, when counted 52 in the flock, including one unringed adult and one of this year's juvs. Wonderful sight and sounds when later 34 took flight and circled high overhead before flying towards West Sedgemoor.
Also a smart looking pale-phase Common Buzzard with creamy-white head and underparts, also prominent creamy-white upper-tail coverts fading towards a reddish-brown terminal tail-band.
Where's the best place to view the cranes from? I wanted to take my sons to have a look tomorrow morning.
Pete, if the birds are still in the same area then you need to walk along the banks of the River Parrett between Oath and Stathe. Stick to the path and if you are lucky the birds might be visible over on Aller Moor. Might be worth taking a pair of binoculars.
Thank you, Robin. I'll give it a go.
Good job Robin gave you the info Pete, as I was off-line yesterday evening.
No worries. We walked the path early this morning, but too foggy to see anything!
Over the weekend, the flock (most recently on Aller Moor) have now been joined by a pair that bred in Wiltshire and returned with one fledged chick. If you manage to see any rings - they are Red White Red on the right leg (the female) and Blue Red Blue on the right leg (the male). Their chick is unringed, as are the two chicks from the successful Somerset pair. There is also an unringed adult/sub-adult(?) still with the group.
Could someone please advise where the best place to go with views over West Sedgemoor? I visited Aller Moor yesterday, but alas the cranes weren't about. They were probably on West Sedgemoor.
I understand that West Sedgemoor is a no access reserve, but where are the best places for scope views over the moor?
Hi Dave, There is a public footpath which runs right along the south side of the West Sedgemoor reserve, and it's accessible from Swell Woods nature reserve.
Thank you Bill.
I dont think there is much point in going along South Drove, I think you need a vantage point such as the Red Brick railway bridge, half way up Red Hill, the Burton Pincent Monument or the veiw point from Swell Wood.
From the railway bridge you can view Aller Moor as well as West Sedgemoor, thay have been spending a lot of their time in the stuble fields on Aller Moor
The flock of cranes was on Aller Moor this morning. There were 41 when we arrived late morning, including 3 juveniles. Around noon, 11 more adult cranes flew in from the direction of Stoke St Gregory, in a long line, making beautiful calls and joined the flock. The second-last bird in the flying line seemed to have one leg dangling lower than the other, but it had no difficulty in landing.
Finally caught up with the cranes today around 10am. Large group (c. 30) flying from Aller moor, over the red brick railway bridge, towards Curry Rivell. Two other smaller parties also seen: one of 7 birds flying in same direction and a group of 5 flying towards Burrow Mump. Fantastic to see and hear!
I also caught up with the cranes for the first time and was very grateful for the directions to this location. Between 1.30 and 3pm i had a flock of twelve cranes that started in pasture near a group of geese before they flew up to the stubble field. Fantastic to see them and what fabulous old fruit trees along the parret trail as i walked there and back.
Pete, Matthew and everyone else. Many, thanks for the updates. I have been watching the Cranes for at least 3 years and this afternoon and early evening was one of the best ever. About 60 cranes in total, 2 family groups, Cranes flying, bugling calls reverberating, plus a couple of other inflight calls that I haven't heard before. However, it is not often that 60 cranes fly directly overhead when flying over the Railway Bridge. Add to the mix a superb Sunset and a rising Supermoon, pure magic.
No sign of any large numbers this morning (between 10.30 and midday) but I did see a family(?) group of four - two adults with 2 juveniles - at some distance.
At one point they were confronted by a couple of swans, at which much leaping and wing flapping ensued. All quietened down after a while.
Whilst viewing from a drove just east of Stoke St Gregory looking south towards Swell Wood a large flock of Cranes took flight. I counted 58 individuals. They flew towards the red brick railway bridge and were constantly calling.
65 including 3 juveniles seen feeding on Aller Moor from Oath railway bridge and then flying towards West Sedgemoor at dusk to roost - magnificent!
So far as I know, marsh harrier green wingtags are all from the Hawk and Owl Trust Sculthorpe Moor reserve in Norfolk. Will report at AGM this weekend.