Bird Watchers Lets Talk Birds here In south West France
In particular the Common Crane known as the Grue that has been flying over your 'holiday home from home' here at Gone Fishin' in the sunny Lot et Garonne..
You don’t need Bird Watching Binoculars to find them because you hear them!
This Beautiful and picturesque area known as the Lot et Garonne Nouvelle Aquitaine lot is a flight path for the grue also known as the common crane a time enjoyed by bird watchers.
They are seen and enjoyed by birdwatchers that watch with fascination their migration overhead , recently there has been thousands of these majestic birds actually flying over our home here at Gone Fishin' in the sunny Lot et Garonne.
They are flying on their annual migration from Scandinavia and Germany to Africa to avoid colder months.
They remind me of Canada geese migrating to the states with their trumpets sounds whilst flying.
There are many flocks, dozens at the time , flying overhead this the past week or so but today here at Gone Fishin in the Lot et Garonne seemed like a red letter day as we saw so many mostly in the long V formation, but sometimes when they encounter a thermal it seems they all take a break to swirl around in the air current like a giant bird circus, then floating in a spiral before coming out of the thermal and it continuing on their way .
There are many reports in the newspaper of this spectacular sight and sound.
You hear them before they emerge through the clouds, it seems so natural to look up and wish them a safe journey.
Drivers stop at will regardless so they can be at the side of the road looking up to the sky to watch them and of course many enthusiast Bird Watchers.
When you look at the migration maps it appears they take a diagonal and that central route from the north-eastern France, through the Central regions to the south-west and in a similar trijet through Spain.
Apparently they do most of their flying at night, it takes less energy. An interesting bird.
Sometimes when passing over the centre of France they are seen resting up for the day and eating and drinking.
Crane Grus grus Grue Cendrée
The Common Crane is one of the largest birds in Europe with a wingspan of 2 meters and a weight of 4 - 6 kg.
Overall plumage is a nearly uniform grey with long legs and neck. Adults are distinguished by the black and white contrast to the neck and head, marked with a bright red spot and young Cranes have a brownish plumage that they keep for a year that gradually changes to adult plumage.
On the ground they appear to have a fluffy puffed up tail that is actually formed by the last wing feathers that are very elongated.
Cranes are very sociable and gregarious during their migration and wintering when they can form very large groups, especially on the ground which can be many tens of thousands. They are however extremely territorial when nesting.
Breeding grounds are situated principally in Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway and the Baltic countries where large solitary nests using dry grass are constructed on the ground situated in large areas of marsh or swamp forests that can occupy up to several hundred hectares.
Usually a couple will produce one or two eggs in May that take about 4 weeks to hatch.
Shortly after hatching, the chicks are able to follow their parents and sneak into the swamp in search of insects, molluscs and small vertebrates which then make up the bulk of their food.
Thereafter, they consume more plants: tender herbs, aquatic plants and berries.
The young start to take to the air at around two months between mid July and August when they have to prepare for their first migration when they will stay with their parents until their return in the spring. Sexual maturity isn’t actually achieved for between 3 and 5 years when, assuming they find a partner, they pair for life. Bless!
In August and September thousands of cranes gather on the Swedish island of Oland from here they can cross the Baltic sea to the Island of Rügen where around 30000 birds gather in October with about another 15,000 on the German mainland with the birds moving through in groups, arrivals and departures staying perhaps two or three days, possibly longer.
As with all things natural nothing is precise and much is determined by weather and temperature. It is access to food on the ground that is most important both during their migration and where they over winter. What we can say is that the main migration is October to December with small movements from September and possibly continuing sporadically until early Spring and that therefore the “migration” is both gradual and partial, spread out over several months with them wintering at various locations stretching from north-eastern France (Lorraine and especially Champagne) to Morocco with various locations in between, however the majority will end up in Spain with most of them in the large wintering areas of Extremadura Spain.
They have been a protected species in France since 1967 further details about the Grue here and much more about protected species here in France
Speed of flight: 40 to 80 km / h on average. If the winds are strong and powerful, the crane moves at over 100 km / h. The crane can therefore cross France in one day.
Flight altitude: from 200 to 1,500m.
Population transiting through France: approximately 360,000 individuals
Population wintering in France: approximately 100,000 / 120,000 individuals
Cranes transiting through France nest mainly in Sweden, Finland, northern Germany and Poland.
Why read about them in Bird Watching Magazinwhen you can see the real thing here at Gone Fishin the beautiful Lot et Garonne. For those that love fishing as a hobby we are here at Gonefishin-holiday4two and a reminder this is not a fishing holiday its just a bonus and its free. You can also find out more here at 2france4two.com and oodles more with videos here at france4two.uk Enjoy a good read you will need a cup of tea and a scrumptious piece of cake.