Every year in autumn thousands of common cranes fly from the north of Europe to the south into their wintering grounds. Along their migratory route they stop in Germany at several specific places. Two of these places are Linum in Brandenburg and the Kranorama at the Günzer See in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Bird migration in autumn
Leaves turn golden. Red. Orange. Brown. Or yellow. Either still on the tree or already on the ground. The days become cooler and shorter. And the sunny days will soon be gone.
Autumn is a wonderful and colorful season, but most migratory birds have already left in October for their wintering grounds. Like swallows or swifts.
However, some birds are still on their way in October.
Like the common cranes.
Common cranes are fascinating birds. Very shy and very mysterious. A symbol of pure elegance with their long legs and their long narrow necks. Although their appearance might not be that spectacular with their mostly grey plumage, common cranes still attract every year a great number of people to places like Linum or Zingst. Both Linum and Zingst are great places in autumn to observe common cranes during their long migratory route from the far north of Europe to the south. Because at those places common cranes have found suitable resting areas with attractive feeding grounds close-by and safe sleeping places for a large number of common cranes.
Every year in autumn - around mid-September - numbers of cranes in Germany increase significantly.
Especially in the north of Germany. Their appearance attracts many naturalists or bird enthusiasts, respectively, like me.
I’m very drawn to common cranes.
Maybe it is their typical trumpeting call. Or the pure number of gathering cranes due to their sociality. Or their elusive behavior.
I don’t know exactly.
But I’m always so thrilled, fascinated and enchanted when I see them. Then I'm just full with joy and I'm happy.
This year autumn was exceptionally beautiful on some days...
That’s why I went to Linum and to the Kranorama in autumn 2021 again. I had known already both places and I wrote about my experiences in previous blog entries.
This time I had another good time at both places and I’m more than happy to share some of my impressions here on the blog...
Common cranes in Linum
I actually went to Linum twice this year. From Berlin it is just a short trip to Kremmen (a little bit more than one hour) and from there about half an hour to Linum by bike.
On my first trip I went to Linum at the beginning of October. I expected to see many, many common cranes on the fields in the surroundings of Linum, as the number of common cranes around Linum was estimated to exceed 50.000 birds.
However, although I always feel lucky by every glimpse I get of the birds, this year I haven’t had the best observation opportunities in Linum.
Maybe this year was just different?
The summer was very rainy and cold.
Did this influence directly or indirectly the occurrence or behavior of the common cranes in any way?
Well, the number of common cranes seemed to differ only slightly when compared to 2020.
Maybe I was just not lucky enough and I was at the wrong places.
But instead, I saw quite many common cranes flying over me.
Important to mention is, by the way, that the corn fields were still not harvested at the beginning of October due to the rainy and cold summer. This might have been another point why it was so difficult to observe the common cranes at that time in Linum, as it was just not possible to see over the corn plants.
Another possible and good reason for the few crane observations I had might be the behavior of common crane observers. There are hiding places behind trees along the streets, but sometimes people probably leave their hiding places to get a better view onto the birds. And this might frighten away the common cranes and making it more difficult to observe them on the fields...
Nevertheless, on my first trip I encountered an area where some common cranes had found a harvested corn field. These stubble fields are important feeding places for common cranes during their annual migration in autumn.
On my second trip to Linum at the end of October (with an estimation of more than 60.000 common cranes) there was not any common crane on that field.
Thus, the common cranes are always on the move and the birds might be at one place on one day but at another place on the next day.
I was moving around by bike.
This way it was easy for me to stop just next to a street and hide behind trees. But this as well might frighten the birds away. I unfortunately had such a moment and I felt bad when I disturbed three common cranes. They flew away when they sensed me, because I was not careful enough!
By all means, it was not my intention to disturb the birds. I was hiding behind a tree. But this was not enough. The shy and elusive common cranes unfortunately sensed my presence and left.
Therefore, it is especially important to be a considerate wildlife photographer.
Photographing wild animals requires a lot of patience - and I know for myself - that I still have to work on me. It is not about just getting a good photograph!
Any slightly disturbance might cause the birds to fly away... Meaning that the birds have to look for another place to feed - a move that requires energy which they actually need for the remaining migratory route!
Information: Are you interested in taking photographs of common cranes? If yes, I suggest you to use a telephoto lens. I used a Sigma 150-600mm lens and a Nikon D500. A good camera equipment is very helpful in taking photographs of wildlife. However, besides a good camera and a good lens, you need especially a lot of patience.
On my trips to Linum I was lucky enough to view some more birds.
I felt especially lucky to have seen whooper swans in flight. For me it is not at all common to encounter whooper swans!
Whooper swans actually live further north, but they might migrate further south, and thus, might be seen in north Germany.
I was also very happy to have seen not only whooper swans (on the left), but also some hunting common buzzards (on the right) on my way from Kremmen to Linum.
Linum is a very beautiful place for bird watching. The birds mentioned here give just a very small insight into the bird life in Linum. Not to forget the white storks in summer...
Information: Every year in summer several white storks return to their breeding grounds in Linum. In one of my previous posts I wrote more about my white stork observations in Linum. Please follow the link to read more...
Common cranes at the Kranorama
In mid-October I decided to visit Stralsund, because from there it is easy to get to the Kranorama. On my last trip to the Kranorama I had some very good views onto common cranes.
The Kranorama is close to Groß Mohrdorf and just next to the Günzer See where common cranes have found a safe resting area on their migratory route.
However, this year I was not at all lucky with crane observations at the Kranorama.
There was no common crane at all on the field just in front of the Kranorama.
Apparently, the reason for that behavior was still not clear. At least at the time of my visit in mid-October.
There was food on the field.
But the common cranes didn’t care about that food at all.
Instead, they avoided the field in front of the Kranorama and stayed on corn fields further away.
Other birds as well apparently avoided the field in front of the Kranorama.
Very mysterious, I think.
I observed some greater white-fronted geese passing the fields.
Nevertheless, although I had not such good crane observation opportunities like the other time at the Kranorama two years ago, I still had some very nice other bird observations.
Just over me was a hunting common buzzard.
Most birds were European goldfinches. But there were also some common chaffinches around.
As I was moving around by bicycle, I was exploring the area around the Kranorama. Further away I saw some cyclists, and thus, was heading into their direction to get onto a bicycle path.
However, important to mention is that there are areas which are not allowed to enter because of the cranes.
I remained on the cycling paths.
Luckily, I saw some more cranes from afar.
But of course, I kept a far distance and self-evidently did not approach the birds.
After that observation I continued with my bicycle tour and encountered even some western roe deer.
Although I went to the Kranorama primarily to observe common cranes, I was more than happy to have seen unexpectedly so many other animals!
I had to remind myself: “You never know how a wildlife watching trip ends...”.
As I stayed overnight in Stralsund, of course, I also saw some more wildlife in the town.
By the way, Stralsund is a very nice place in autumn. I took several walks through the town and was so enchanted by the different colors the autumn sun created at the lakes, in the parks or anywhere else in the town.
Tip: If you are hungry, there are several places in Stralsund where you can get plant-based (vegan) food. I very liked the Café SüdWest in the Badenstraße 53, but also the roots'n'seeds at Am Fischmark 13A. There are more vegan options in the Café SüdWest than in roots'n'seeds. But the latter one is a very comfortable place to stay for a little bit longer...
Stralsund is just next to the Baltic Sea, and thus, home to a variety of sea birds like black-headed gulls and herring gulls.
The birds seemed to be quite used to the presence of people. I was sitting almost just next to them and they didn’t fly away. Importantly however, the birds are not allowed to feed.
I stayed for some time at the Sundpromenade and watched the birds.
A great cormorant was hunting.
Along the path of the Sundpromenade were quite many corvids like common ravens and Eurasian jackdaws.
Although it was just a short trip and I couldn’t see that many common cranes as I had wished before, I had still a very good time in Stralsund.
Another interesting place in Stralsund is the Ozeaneum. A museum dedicated to the ocean.
Do you enjoy observing common cranes in autumn? If yes, please let me know in the comments and tell me more about your experiences!