Last year's migration - I haven't got a good photo of this year's yet

To my delight I can finish animal week on this blog by talking about our exciting twice-yearly visitors. The grues – European grey crane – have begun their migration south for the winter. We spotted our first ones yesterday during the afternoon and evening, and heard a lot more flying over during the night. It’s still as magical as ever to hear and see them making their epic voyage. They are on their way from Northern Europe (Sweden, the Baltic Sea and northern Germany) to Spain via France. Some grues head down to Tunisia and Algeria.

This weekend it’s the fête de la grue up at the Lac du Der in Champagne, and the timing couldn’t be better because the main migration is under way, relatively early this year. This is the website,, to follow for general information about the migrations, whilte this one gives you up to date daily accounts. I send in reports to this latter site whenever we see cranes. I will have to watch out for next year’s fete and maybe make a trip up to Champagne. I would love to see the cranes a bit closer up.

Lac du Der is where many of thousands cranes gather during the migration. This is the largest artificial lake in Europe at 4,800 hectares. In a nice link to my last blog about carp, this was one of the first lakes to become popular with English carpists in France. It’s full name is Lac Der Chantecoq.

The cranes are large birds, between 4 and 6 kg in weight and are up to 140 cm high. Adults have a grey body with a black and white neck, and red markings on their head. Young birds up to a year old are yellowy-brown. They’re endangered due to loss of overwintering habitat in Spain and their breeding grounds in Scandanavia. Fortunately they’re protected, so let’s hope they’ll survive and remain the fantastic spectacle they are each year as they fly loudly over our house!