The cranes (grus) are back. We last saw them in spring as they were flying north to their breeding grounds in northern Europe (Sweden, the Baltic sea and northern Germany). That was a welcome sight as it meant that good weather was coming.
Today we saw them heading back south to Spain where they overwinter. Some go to Algeria and Tunisia. Although a fantastic sight, and wonderful sound, it does mean it's about to get very cold. Winter follows the cranes as sure as night follows day!
The cranes are common cranes (grues cendrées). They are large birds, 140 cm high and 4-6 kg in weight. They are mainly grey with a black and white neck. There are thought to be around 230,o00 of them. Several tens of thousands of them flew across France today. Flying at speeds of up to 70 or 80 kmph, they can cross the country in a single day if the wind is in their favour.
Today, 17th November, several tens of thousands of cranes were on the move over France. Weather stations were picking them up with their rain radar!
For us the twice yearly crane migrations are an essential part of living in France. We wouldn't miss seeing them for the world.
For more information, check out http://champagne-ardenne.lpo.fr/grues/point_sur_la_migration.htm