Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The road to Laguna de Gallocanta and the sacred home of the migrating Common Crane


At last the sky is blue, after we have travelled through rain and huge winds from the Pyrenees. We are heading for the Laguna de Gallocanta, where we hope to see the Cranes that have over wintered there and the ones flying in to this rendezvous point, from further south.  En route passing the red town of Daroca, we have to stop to photograph the magnificent fortified entrance and the town beyond, as red as the soil of Aragon.

All the buildings look as though they are forged from the very earth, with the church at the heart of the town.

Perched high above the town is all that is left of the Castillo of the Mayor.

Onwards to our destination, the Puerto de Santed stands guard at the entrance to the Laguna. Which is on a high plateau, some 995 m above sea level, the landscape shows the vast emptiness of the place.

The Laguna is surrounded by a patchwork of grassland and farmed fields, where the farmers put out straw to feed the Cranes, perhaps saving their crops! We were so pleased to see so many Cranes remaining, as you see below, they were thick on the ground.

Thousands of Cranes, like so many grey clad commuters, with the village of Las Cuerlas in the background.

We watched so many comings and goings as they fed on the fields, in the evening, sadly the light was getting worse.

The light here at Gallocanta is amazing, big skies and the clouds rolling in, I think we are in for a storm!

Storm we had, wind and lashing rain, but the morning was not so bad, so Mike set off, that is him, on the road below the village of Gallocanta, hoping to get some good shots, although the light is not brilliant.

The birds are getting restless, they will soon be making their flight north to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and northern Europe.

They mostly seem to be in family groups, below is a typical family, with one juvenile, playing follow my leader.

Some young birds and many adults are starting to jump up and down, which is part of the courtship ritual. It is very amusing to watch and seems to be catching, as when one starts, very soon lots of them are bobbing up and down.

This is still, to us, a very special and almost spiritual place, where a dusk vigil, is rewarded by the haunting cries of these wonderful birds as they fly in to roost for the night. At our home in France we always look forward to the flight of the Cranes, southward foretells of the coming Winter and northward heralds the coming of Spring, but always, always, their cries fill the air.
May they forever fly their paths across the sky, we wish them safe journey.

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