The first two crane chicks ever successfully raised on the Suffolk coast have now left for their warmer winter home.

Cranes successfully raised two chicks on RSPB Snape Wetlands Nature Reserve earlier this year. They are the first-ever recorded pair to fledge young on the county's coast. 

The 202-acre wetland near Snape Maltings is relatively new, with initial work to convert dry grassland into wetland and reedbed starting in 2008, and completed in 2014.

Ponds and pools were excavated, and water levels were controlled to sculpt and create the wetland.  

Since that time, RSPB Snape Wetlands has already attracted breeding bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit as well as providing new habitat for mammals such as otter and water vole.  

The pair of cranes that successfully raised two chicks on the reserve this summer have attempted to nest in the wetland for two years previously, however, they had not been able to fledge young.  

The reserve still has a lot of time to develop and is very much a work in progress as it becomes established, However, in partnership with the Environment Agency, the reserve is already teeming with wildlife.

The crane is a rare breeder in Britain with only around 65 pairs breeding each year.

Originally returning to the Norfolk broads in 1979, numbers are now steadily increasing - they can often be seen in fenland reserves including Lackford Lakes and Lakenheath Fen in the west of Suffolk.  

Cranes need wetland to breed in, away from disturbance and with protection from predators.

They make a nest in open water, often in emerging vegetation. After the eggs hatch, the family typically look for food near to the nest site for several weeks, but as the chicks get older, they roam further afield.  

East Anglian Daily Times: The family of cranes flying over Snape Wetland Nature Reserve.The family of cranes flying over Snape Wetland Nature Reserve. (Image: Eddie Marsh/RSPB)

Aaron Howe, RSPB site manager for the South Suffolk Coast, said: “To have cranes successfully breed and fledge on the Suffolk coast for the first time and for it to be on our relatively new Snape Wetlands reserve, is a great achievement.

"We hope this kick starts the population of cranes on the Suffolk coast and they become more widespread within the area of outstanding natural beauty.  

“The cranes fledged the nest back in August, but because these birds are very susceptible to disturbance by people, we’ve waited until the family had time to grow and leave the site for the winter before shouting about how amazing this moment is.


East Anglian Daily Times: Aaron Howe from the RSPB.Aaron Howe from the RSPB. (Image: Archant)"We will continue to manage the reserve's wetlands to encourage more cranes to breed here, hopefully next year and beyond, and we thank the Environment Agency for their continued support.”