UWE graduate’s film of cranes selected for prize in Japan

Ida May JonesA graduate from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has had her first film, set at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, selected for the Japan Wildlife Film Festival alongside David Attenborough’s latest BBC series, Life Story.

Ida May-Jones followed the lives of two young cranes struggling with the challenges of parenthood early last year as her final project for an MA in Wildlife Filmmaking.

The First Dance of the Crane took around 200 hours to film over several months as the pair courted and eventually settled down to rear a family on the wetlands at Slimbridge.

The effort paid off when Ida was the first to see and film the first crane chick emerging from the nest, beating a crew from the BBC’s Springwatch who were filming the same birds.

Ida said:

“I’m really excited that the film has been chosen for the Japan Wildlife Film Festival alongside such esteemed company!

“We’re fortunate in the South West to have these incredible wildlife stories unfolding on our doorsteps. The birds in the film are young cranes, no more than teenagers really, and they’re the first of their species to try to settle and rear a family in the south west for more than four centuries. It was incredibly moving to watch the drama of their lives over weeks and months. Hopefully that comes across in the film.”

Dave Paynter, WWT’s Reserve Manager at Slimbridge, said:

“Cranes would once have been a familiar sight here on the shores of the Severn, but they were driven to extinction in the 1600s and hardly seen for four centuries.

“We brought cranes back to the South West and this pair, Monty and Chris, are the first to attempt to breed. They are a young couple trying to start a family, but unknown to them they carry the hopes and fears of many wildlife lovers. Ida has done a fantastic job telling both those sides of the story in a beautiful and engaging way.”

Peter Venn, Programme Leader, MA Wildlife Filmmaking University of the West of England, said:

“We are delighted to hear that Ida’s film has been nominated for this award.  It is well-deserved recognition of the hard work and commitment she put during her time on MA course here at UWE. ‘The First Dance of the Crane’ is a charming, creative and accomplished first film and we wish Ida the best of luck with winning the award."


WWT Slimbridge crane chicks (c) JSLees
WWT Slimbridge crane chicks (c) JSLees

The cranes which are known as Christine and Monty are now five years old. They were released as young birds in Somerset as part of the Great Crane Project reintroduction programme, run by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), RSPB, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust and Viridor Credits.

They currently spend most of their time at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire where they and other cranes are regularly seen by visitors. Staff at WWT are asking that the public report any sightings of cranes to them as they settle down for this year’s breeding season.

For a chance of seeing Monty and Christine and other cranes, visit WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Click here to watch a trailer of The First Dance of the Crane.

Click here for details on the MA in Wildlife Filmmaking.

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