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article imageThe Cranes Are Back, And No, It's Not Another Series Of Frasier

By Michelle Duffy     May 17, 2007 in Environment
The extraordinary tall, yet elegant birds are proving that nature truly does keep coming back, even after 400 years
East Anglia in the UK is flat.
Flatter than flat. It's windy, cold and mostly wet, but yet it's perfect for particular migrating birds. For many birds flying south for winter, the big expanse of land where Suffolk and Norfolk sits on the East coast is the first thing the birds hit on their way to warmer climes, and the 'wetland' is notorious for having the pleasure of some weird and wonderful birds for company.
The birds who have recently caught the eye of many a 'twitcher' (a British word for bird-watcher,) are Cranes. Most of us would think of the Crazy legs Crane who appeared in cartoons 30 or so years ago (I know I do) are not very exotic, yet there is a very special reason to get all excited over these tall, gangling creatures. They haven't been here for 400 years.
The birds had been spotted setting up home in amongst the crops of a carrot field 11 years ago, so the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds jumped on the land and turned it into a nature reserve in order to keep the birds in the area at Lakenheath (better known as the UK's U.S airbase.)
Until then, the Cranes were never seen on our English soil (and certainly nowhere near a carrot) due to large scale drainage in the area shortly after the reign of Henry VIII. Yet to see them back, is marvellous news as the RSBP are aiming to expand the area to around 20 square miles of wetlands for all visiting birds.
The society's chief executive, Graham Wynne, had this to say,
"The arrival of cranes at Lakenheath Fen is fantastic news for the future of this species in the UK. It is also testimony to the truly inspirational work done at the site - we have gone from carrot fields to cranes in 11 years. Their decision to nest on the reserve was totally unexpected, very exciting and completely wonderful."
The new visitor centre to show off the old friends back in the country opens at Lakenheath today.
Obviously, the sound of military aircraft hasn't put them off.
A lot has changed since Tudor times....
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