Monday, 16 January 2012

LAGUNA DE GALLOCANTO (Province of Aragon)

Why would you visit this forboding, empty landscape?

The Laguna is situated, south of Daroca and Zaragoza,on a high plateau 1000 mtrs above sea level, with temperatures that can rocket down to minus 20 degrees. We have been here in temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees! It is a shallow laguna fed by rain water, surrounded by hills on three sides, where as many as 50,000 Cranes, may overwinter.

It's a desolate, but to us, almost spiritual place. There is something about the light and the stillness at Gallocanta, as we wait for the Cranes to fly in to roost, from the surrounding area, this dusk vigil is, for us, unforgettable. The sky darkens, night draws in, then... first you hear them, their haunting cries coming ever closer, until they pass right over you, wave upon wave, so close, that you can even hear the the young ones cheeping, until the darkness engulfs us totally!

Bad weather seems to be coming!

We awoke next morning, to rain and fog, having seen it coming, last evening, we were not surprised. The Cranes are quite creatures of habit, not deciding to rise before 8am, very civilised! They then fly in groups to feed on the the surrounding countryside, so we decide to follow them, using the camper as a  mobile hide. The land here is so open that it's hopeless to go on foot, as they just fly off. In reality you need to get into a chosen, hidden position at about 7am. We drove, slowly, stopping and starting all around the Laguna getting some closer shots of the Cranes, all the time, the weather is worsening!

Cranes launching, with behind, the castelo.

A juvenile and an adult, note the head markings! 

We were lucky to see two juvenile Golden Eagles, sitting, wet and bedraggled on some rocks, huddled against the weather, but decided not to disturb them, just watching at a distance.
We had a coffee break at Gallocanta village, where there is now an amazing new visitor centre, then made a team decision to head homeward.
Once again, it will not be our last visit here!
Having followed the Cranes full circle , from the Lac du der Chantecoq, in north east France, we feel that "Mission Accomplished" at Gallocanta.
Heading homeward, we stopped at one of our favourite places, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, for the night,  Pitilas, where we heard all night long, the Cranes flying over, heading southward.
We will bid farewell to the Cranes and will await them on their return journey northward, when they fly over our house in the Dordogne, heralding a new Spring! 

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