Monday, 2 March 2015

100 thousand Cranes - but not in Pembrokeshire!

Having just returned from an 11 days away, we felt that we just had to report on our recent trip to NE Spain - watching the late winter gathering and migration of common cranes at Laguna de Gallocanta. Here, at a very shallow lake about the size of the Castlemartin Range, we witnessed the arrival (and eventual departure) of tens of thousands of cranes.  

Much noisy jumping and kicking display was observed - perhaps they were just keeping warm!

The shoreline and surrounding fields were simply covered with cranes. This is just a small portion of the spectacle around the lake system - the far distant shore has similar numbers and they continue well beyond the boundaries of the photo. 
Numerous flocks like this were starting to leave on 28th February, our last day there.
We were quite amazed by c.20,000 cranes on our first day in the field. The official count at this Ramsar/SPA/Natural Park site that day was around 27,000 birds in total. But then crane numbers really started to increase with new arrivals from the South-west over the coming days. The official count a week later was close to 84,000. By the time we had to leave we estimated that the number had easily reached 100,000 plus

On our very last day there we watched many thousands of noisy and excited cranes start to leave. Numerous flocks of a thousand or more gradually rising higher and higher to find thermals - a mass migration to Northern Europe was now underway - a truly amazing sight! 

We've seen quite a lot of wildlife spectacles over the years but the experience of seeing so many of these magnificent creatures in one place was truly awesome - something we'll never forget!