If you go down to certain wetland sites in south-western and eastern Britain, you might catch sight of a majestic creature just returning from a long absence. Common cranes boast a 2.4-metre wingspan, a loud ‘bugling’ call and a flair for the dramatic. Their coats are an ink painting, with black-and-white necks rendered in heavy brushstrokes against the soft grey of their bodies, and a shock of scarlet on their crowns. And they have just enjoyed their most successful year in Britain for 400 years. Conservationists have painstakingly reintroduced them in the west just as new arrivals from Europe ...


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