The occurrence and recolonisation of Common Cranes in Scotland

The occurrence and recolonisation of Common Cranes in Scotland

Abstract

The Common Crane Grus grus was once a common breeding species in Britain but had become extinct across much of western Europe by the 16th century. The European population underwent a recovery in the mid-20th century, and the species recolonised many areas in the west of its former range, including Britain. The first successful, modern-day breeding in England occurred in 1982, although recolonisation was slow and the population has recently been boosted by a release scheme. Confirmed breeding occurred in Scotland for the first time in 2012, and by 2020 a total of five pairs had bred or attempted to breed. A total of 11 young have now fledged from the small but increasing Scottish population. Breeding sites are predominantly in lowland raised bogs surrounded by mixed farmland. Similar habitats in eastern Scotland are now attracting increasing numbers of passage migrants and summering non-breeding pairs. This suggests that the population increase could be rapid, as it has been in many countries where recolonisation has occurred in continental Europe. Investment in targeted wetland habitat improvements, such as peatland restoration, alongside predator control, is the most cost-effective way to help the species become firmly established in Scotland.

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