Monday, 20 February 2017

Crane weather

Cranes, 4th March 2013
Last night (18th February) just before 9:30 we heard the unmistakeable bugling of a flight of Common Cranes passing overhead. Impossible to tell how many: we guessed about 60. They were heading up the Aigronne in a generally East-North-East direction. Two hours later, another, bigger (noisier) flight passed over, this timie heading due North. We recorded that one as at least 300, but still it was very much a guess.

Knowing that big flocks of migrating birds occasionally show up on weather radar, I had a look this morning at the Meteo60 web site. The radar map showed two blue streaks leading North-Northeast from the Paris basin toward the Belgian border. The satellite view showed clear skies. I am willing to bet that these blue streaks were cranes, thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of them.

Rain Radar map 19 February 2017
When we zoomed in, the bigger of the two patches by far appeared to originate in a large area of marshland just north of the river Oise between Creil and Compiègne. These look ideal spots for cranes to roost overnight. At this higher level of detail, it was possible to see waves of birds on the animated radar map as they left their overnight pitstop. The other patch seemed to come from an area north of the Marne, not too far from the Lac du Der.

Sunset squadron, 8th March 2013

By confirmation, the LPO Champagne-Ardennes site grus-grus records a massive movement of cranes over the past 24 hours. In Hesse, southern Germany, thousands passed overhead at night. Yesterday's map includes, for a change, records from Indre-et-Loire! Something tells me the crane-watchers in Hesse are going to have a busy day today.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating pictures, it must have been an impressive sight.

LaPré DelaForge said...

Philip, a couple of years ago Pauline and I went to The Brenne.... a National Park about half-an-hour's drive away... specifically to see the cranes fly into their roost on their way South.
There were ONLY around four thousand of them in the area, most of which roost on the same lake..... there was no sign of them, but we could hear their trumpeting..... we hopped back in the car and followed our ears. We found them in some nearby fields.... loads of them...and suddenly they all took off.... they'd just been gathering there....they were headed for the lake, but we stayed put as wave after wave flew over.... it was magnificent and probably around one tenth of what made that radar trace!