Saturday, October 27, 2012

Heading south

Must have been last Monday evening. Walking Jocky in the forest out back. Suddenly heard a funny old noise. Sounded like a bunch of chirping frogs. But there wasn't a pond or lake for miles. Stopped and listened a little more closely. I recognised the noise but couldn't place it. Then I remembered: migrating cranes. Hurried to an open clearing and looked skywards. Spotted a long ribbon of cranes flying high and heading south. The French call that ribbon a 'bande'. At a guess, the bande consisted of about 400 birds, or maybe more. A magnificent sight. Then they were gone and the sky was silent. Walked on a bit further and heard the distant chirping again. Rushed to a open space and spotted a second wave approaching. Another bande, bigger than the first. Watched in awe as they passed overhead and slowly disappeared in the southern sky. A sure sign that summer was over. Always amazes me how they follow the same route going north in spring and south in autumn. Not exactly sure, but I think they spend summer in Russia and winter in Africa. Shall have to find out more.

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera when the cranes flew over (above photo borrowed from internet). Took it with me the following evening when I walked Jock up the Sprocket Hill area. Clear blue sky, but no sign of any cranes. Great shame. I've witnessed this magnificent spectacle about seven or eight times and every time my camera's been left behind on the kitchen table. Typical. Maybe I'll be lucky next spring. Anyways, while I was up there I took a few snaps. Nothing special, just a cloudless sunset. Took the camera out again the following evening, up the Cemetery Run, in the hope that I might catch a few late-flying cranes. None appeared, so I snapped the old orchard trees that will be the subject of my next painting, a few cows in the far field, the low sunlight hitting some forest trees, and the view across the valley towards our hamlet which I've used as my new header (our house is on the left). Arrived back home and snapped some white smoke coming out of the chimney. Good to know the fire hadn't gone out. Noticeable that the evenings are getting chillier and shorter. Gets dark at about seven. That'll be six when the clocks go back later tonight. Also snapped yesterday's sunrise. Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning. The warning was a day early. Sure enough, we had a flurry of snow this morning. Not much, just a dusting. Freezing cold though. But then, around midday, the sun came out and the snow disappeared.

Those cranes definitely moved south at exactly the right time. Amazes me how they know when to go and which route to take. Truly incredible.

P.S. - Clocks gone back. Winter time begins. Sunday dawned a bit snowy...


  1. That must have been a lovely sight to see so many cranes headed away for the winter. A sky filled with cranes and the noise that accompanied thrilling.
    I always only thought of geese flying south for the winter, but now I know that cranes migrate as well.

  2. Great photos, especially the new header photo. You live in such a lovely place.

    We had a sprinkling of snow too, the day before the clocks went back.

  3. No snow here, but then we don't get much of it anyway even though we are in sight of the Pyrenees. We have the cranes flying over here as well, but the other day were alarmed to see a bunch of them turn around and start going northward again. Lester said they were trying to catch a thermal air current, but normally they hover and go round in circles rather than flying in a certain direction. Oh well, perhaps they were just getting their bearings!