The Common Crane

A couple of weeks a go I was on an early morning train heading out across the Fens near March in Cambridgeshire where I saw a group of 30-40 cranes in a field next to the train line. I’ve only ever had one fleeting glimpse of a common crane in the UK before so it was properly exciting to see such a large group of these statuesque birds. So much so that two days later I drove to the vicinity of the first sighting to see if I could find them again. And after a little driving around this is what happened…

14 common cranes (Grus grus, Dansk: trane)

These 14 birds were part of a group of 19 that flew right overhead and it was a quite incredible sight! According to the BTO the common crane is amber listed after being hunted to extinction four centuries ago. It has recolonised East Anglia naturally since 1979 and according to the Weekly News from BirdGuides a record 54 pairs of an estimated 180 birds were counted this year in the UK.


After this sighting I headed on to the Ouse Washes where this group formed part of a larger group of 40-45 birds, so I saw approximately a quarter of the UK population. They were too far away to get a photograph but captivating to watch in the distance through binoculars. They were a mile or so off to the left and straight in front, several miles away, was Ely Cathedral:

Which even though it was made by humans is also a majestic site on a sunny morning across the flat expanse of the Fens.

6 responses to “The Common Crane

  1. Perseverance and a rare bird. Good story for the season.

    • Thanks for your comment. It is a rare visitor to the UK so it’s always a real treat to see them here. I’ve heard reports that they’ll be here again this winter but there’s been no sign of them yet, at least not in my part of the country. But I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

  2. Thank you for that Finn. A truly fabulous sight that brought back great memories of seeing them in Southern Spain where their winter feeding grounds are on similar man-manipulated agriculture land. And what luck to have that clear blue sky as a background to your images of the birds. Love the photograph of the cathedral too, much more like the Fens I remember!

    • It was indeed an amazing sight, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up

      I’m pleased you like the cathedral too, the picture was taken near Manea approximately 6 miles north west of Ely. I live around 12 miles south west of Ely and I can also see it from here. It’s called ‘The Ship of the Fens’ for a very good reason.

  3. Maybe they should rename it the “Uncommon Crane” for a while….

    Good eye for spotting and recognizing them….

Please share your thoughts:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s