Thursday, 1 March 2012


This is really something special! We were so very fortunate to have the weather conditions we had, this is special! 
We drove from Captieux to the reserve at Arjuzanx, forbidden access! and were lucky enough to bump into Xavier, senior reserve warden, who seemed to understand our following of the Cranes, and all the places we have been thus far to see them. He arranged a rendezvous for the following morning at 7am, to go with him and Nathalie to a special hide deep in the reserve.
The Cranes come to this area to roost for the night from all the surrounding areas and numbers may be swelled by the migrators coming from Spain and Africa. In recent years, many Cranes have not migrated further south but stayed here. During the winter here they counted 20,000 Cranes in the Landes. 
Alarm call!! and off we go, to meet up at the information centre in freezing fog! We go with our guides in one of their vehicles to the hide, situated high above the Lac de Grue.
We climb higher and higher up the observation hide in dense fog.... then dawn breaks around us, and we see the most spectacular sunrise ever, over drifting fog, the trees thrusting through the swirling mist! 

The most breathtaking sunrise ever, breaking over low mist, with trees in stark silhouette.

 We can hear the Cranes calling, but cannot see them.

The mist is all around us shrouding all..... and then....

We see them, rising out of the mist, calling, like specters all around us, some close to, some still hidden from view.

This, was for us, the most dramatic, the most mystical moment to experience!

The sun is now coming up fully and catches the tops of the trees.

Now the Cranes are picking up the light of the sunrise.

   As the Cranes pass on their journey, we watch in awe as the last ones pass over the rising sun.

 We would like to thank Xavier, Nathalie and all the wonderful people at the
Reserve nationale d'Arjuzanx.

We wish the Cranes safe passage north and look forward to their return!

Common Cranes, wintering around Captieux, in theSouthwest of France

Some of the fields here in the Landes, have been set aside by farmers, especially for the Cranes that over winter here, or migrate through. There were some 20,000 here at the last count. Here are some we photographed, when we too passed through, after leaving Le Teich.

 Juvenile Crane, well camouflaged.

 Adult Crane.

 Crane family, enjoying the ploughed field.

Young Crane and parent, they travel in family groups, then gather into huge flocks to migrate.

Adult beginning to acquire its breeding colours.


At last we leave home, after being snowed in for 15 days, champing at the bit to leave!
We head for the renowned Parc Ornithologique du Teich, south of Bordeaux, in the Arcachon
bassin, arriving there late afternoon, after a scenic route cross country from Ste-Foy-le Grande
We settle down for the night, looking forward to visiting the park in the morning.
After a very cold night, we awoke to white frost over everything, including us! but the morning is sunny and crisp and we set off to visit all 20 hides and enjoy the day. On our way to the first hide, we are lucky enough to see an Osprey, but too far to photograph. Then Mike catches on camera this
 ethereal Little Egret.

Whilst in the hide this male Shelduck glides by with his mate.

There are many Lapwing here, the rainbow colours caught in the sun.

We watched a beautiful Snipe, along the waters edge.

The Snipe towers over a little Dunlin.
We walked all; 20 hides, this is Le Teich at its best, returning to the camper for aperitifs!!

Again it was very cold during the night, again, thick white frost, greets us.
We decide that another visit to the park is in order, this time going anti clockwise and are rewarded with the sight of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, displaying, with wings spread and calling to attract a mate, but too far to photograph. However Mike did photograph this magnificent 
Great White Egret, looking for breakfast!

A coffee stop brings this enchanting little chap into view.

Red Squirrel.

A real close up of Gary Rhodes? No a Greater Crested Grebe!

 Pintail Ducks, male and female asleep.

Male Teal, the harlequin of the water.

A little Water Pipit.

This male Black-tailed Godwit is in his full mating colours, glowing orange in the sun.
There have been over 3,000 here in the last week, passing through.

There are about 4,600 Dunlin here and in the late afternoon, they all fly in great flocks swirling this way and that, like a silver cloud.

A beautiful Mute Swan flies low over the water.

The end of the day and a Swan gives a round of applause, as do we for a great visit to Le Teich.