The other day we went to Chateauroux, and just outside of Azay le Ferron we spotted a flock of Common Cranes Grus grus (Fr. Grues cendrées). They were feeding together in fields that were fallow for the winter. There were adults and juveniles together, so presumably a number of family groups making up a bigger flock. They may have been from the population that overwinters in the Brenne, but they might have been taking a rest from their northward migration, which happens about now every year. Huge numbers of cranes are on the move, from the weekend onwards, coming up the Atlantic coast then crossing the country from west to east, heading for Germany.
France is particularly important for the Common Crane population, with a number of important overwintering sites and lots of sites where they stop to rest and refuel whilst on migration.
If you get a close enough view of them (they are rather wary of vehicles and humans) you can see that they have a white stripe along the neck and a darker grey drooping tuft of feathers that form the tail. If the light is good enough you can see the top of the adults heads are red and bald.
In the winter they will be mainly eating seeds left in the field from the previous summer's crops.
|"Massive migration over France, and further north in Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. This migration wave involves tens of thousands of cranes." [Screen shot courtesy of Tim Ford.]|
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