See the cranes from the trains - great views of rare birds on Ely to Norwich Abellio Greater Anglia route

Adult crane with two chickes (Photo: RSPB)

Adult crane with two chickes (Photo: RSPB) - Credit: Archant

Travellers on Abellio Greater Anglia trains taking the Ely to Norwich route could catch a glimpse of one of the UK’s rarest birds this month.

Crane chick in the grass (Photo: Dave Rogers)

Crane chick in the grass (Photo: Dave Rogers) - Credit: Archant

Staff and volunteers at RSPB Lakenheath Fen nature reserve are encouraging railway line users to look out for a pair of cranes and their chicks.

Two pairs of the iconic Fens bird are nesting at the RSPB nature reserve this year, and one pair has been regularly feeding in an area near the railway line that forms the southern boundary of the reserve. The pair has two chicks, which are due to fledge in the next two weeks.

Dave Rogers, site manager at RSPB Lakenheath Fen, said: “It’s always a thrill to catch sight of a rare bird.

Adult crane with two chickes (Photo: RSPB)

Adult crane with two chickes (Photo: RSPB) - Credit: Archant

“If you would like to spot our cranes from the train, just look out onto the reserve between the two RSPB Lakenheath Fen signs at either end of the reserve between Shippea Hill and Lakenheath stations.

“Cranes are very shy birds so we try to keep disturbance to a minimum but the birds are very used to the trains going past.

“Our staff and volunteers work hard to ensure that the reserve has just the right conditions for these rare birds and we are delighted to see that our efforts are continuing to make a difference.

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“Last year was our most successful breeding year ever for these majestic birds, with one pair rearing twins and the other couple a single crane. We are hoping to match this in 2016.

“We are always keen to know what our crane family are up to, so if you do see them, we’d love you to get in touch to let us know what you saw and when.”

Cranes had been extinct in Britain for over 400 years when they recolonised the Norfolk Broads in the 1970s. In 2007, two pairs of cranes arrived at Lakenheath Fen and they have been calling the reserve home ever since.

One of the pairs made history in 2009 when they fledged the first crane chick in the Fens for over 400 years. The two pairs of cranes that currently nest on the reserve represent around eight per cent of the British breeding population of the rare birds.

RSPB Lakenheath Fen is open at all times. The visitor centre and toilets are open daily from 9am till 5pm.

For more information, or to contact the reserve, call 01842 863400 or e-mail