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Cranes will be passing overhead now (Feb/March), en route for breeding grounds in Northern Europe. They have set migration routes and one passes up through western France and over the Poitou-Charentes region.

The Eurasian Crane (Grus grus) is one of the most abundant of the fifteen crane species in the world with a total world population of around 400,000 birds.   Their breeding range is a wide band that stretches from North West Europe east through Russia, over the Ural mountains, through Mongolia, northern China and ends in eastern Siberia.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So guess where I took this photo…… clue it was not Poitou-Charentes.

Family groups and non-breeding birds begin to migrate south in July, but the majority of the species migrate in early September, arriving in African wintering grounds during October. The species returns to its breeding areas in March, where breeding begins in late April or early May.

You do see cranes flying over the Poitou-Charentes region as well as storks, so be carefull in your identification. The cranes are usually in large groups of 10/20 or more and Cranes are very vocal whereas Storks rarely make any noise.,

During the winter there will be thousands of Cranes in France, as they are increasingly wintering north of the Pyrenees, rather than in Spain and Africa, and at a wider range of sites. This is probably yet another effect of climate change, soon Brits will be overwintering in Calais? The results for the populations of Cranes in the 2010/2011 season has recently been produced, and indicates that once again previous records have been beaten, with around 110,000 birds counted from all sites combined, in January 2011. The comparable figure for the previous winter was 103,000, itself a new record at the time.

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All the photos here were taken in Mongolia??? Because I do not have any taken in France.