Migration and wintering – season 1998/1999
Post-nuptial Migration 1998 Wintering Pré-nuptial Migration 1999

Like each year, some 100.000 common Cranes flew across France, from North-East to South-west, to go back to their wintering areas in Spain and Aquitaine (France).
At the end of the winter, they flew back towards their nesting areas in Scandinavia, Germany and Poland.
SummaryThe LPO organized the French Crane Network in order to have a clear idea of the moving of this species. This document summarizes the major points of the season 1998/1999.

Post-nuptial Migration 1998

The earliest birds
Two observations in July are very early : 7 on the 13th at Cosne (58) and 1 at Désertines (03) on the 25 th !
The first 5 common cranes reach the lac du Der at the end of August. We also notice 16 individuals migrating on the 13th at Vervins (02) and 15 on the 28th at Charleville-Mézières (08).

In september, the migration doesn’t speed up since only 4 observations are made : 20 on the 13th at Septfonds (89), 50 on the 17th at Dienville (10), 30 on the 18th at Gannat (03) and 2 at Chevrier/Fort-L’Ecluse (74) on the 21th.

Then October regularly supplies us with migrating cranes but these flights doesn’t concern a large number of birds.

The stop sites slowly begin to fill. On the Lac du Der-Chantecoq, we thus pass from 12 birds on the 2nd to 3,800 on the 29th. The first 11 reach Arjuzanx. on the 19th and they are 20 at Captieux on the 30th. However, some of these first cranes don’t stay for a long time in France. In total, 440 cranes are seen migrating over the Basque country’s passes during october (including 302 on one single day, on the 21th).

The first week of November is similar to October. The lac du Der's number reaches a peak on the 1st with 6,300 birds. Then many of them leave this site during that day (they are noticed in the afternoon in Nièvre, and in the evening and in the night in Aquitaine.). There are only 1,000 cranes left on the 4th.

The first great wave
This year, it occurs very late : not before the 8th, and also during the whole night of the 8th and 9th. The phenomenon concerns 20,000 cranes which almost all stop on the Lac du Der, (more than 20,000 individuals are courted on this site in the morning of the 9th). These birds will then stay 2 days in Champagne.

The second great wave
Only three days later, the second great wave reaches France from Germany (more than 20,000 individuals) during the night of the 11th and 12th. Some of them stop on the great lakes in Champagne. At the same time, in the morning of the 11th, at least 16,000 birds of the first wave leave the Lac du Der and fly across France. Thus, on that day, 13,000 individuals are seen in Nièvre, 7,000 in Cher, 5,500 in Indre and 15,000 in Haute-Vienne. This wave comes to an end on november 13 and 14, but a few cranes are still coming from Germany. In the morning of the 15th, we thus count 15,500 cranes leaving the area where they sleep on the Lac du Der and more than 7,000 on the lakes in Aube.

The third great wave
On the 17th and during the night of the 17th to the 18th, at least 20,000 cranes again arrive from Germany, and the same day at least 8,000 individuals leave Champagne. The " German " birds are mainly noticed during the night in France.
On the 18th, aat least 5,000 cranes leave Champagne, and on the 19th, this wave comes to an end with 5,000 other individuals arriving from Germany.
If we add the number of these three successive waves (very close in time on from the other, from the 8th to the 19th, that is to say 12 days) we notice that it concerns at least 65,000 birds, which represent 65 % of the west-European Population.

La migration post-nuptiale 1998

Total number of Common Cranes during the three great waves from November 8 to 19, 1998.

The end of the migration

After November 20, the cranes that are seen migrating come essentially from the lac du Der . Thus, 5,000 birds gradually leave the place between the end of November and the beginning of January, as they can find there less and less food.
Out of the usual way of migration, we must notice 5 cranes at Sougraigne (11) on december 6, 35 at Arques (11) on the 11th and 19 at Anglès (81) on the 18th. We also have to note these 22 cranes flying in fomration South-Westwards along the seachore at Villeneuve - Coubet (06) on the 9th. The birds probably come from Italy, and so maybe that the cranes seen in the South-West of France don’t all come from the north-East, in other words not down the Rhone valley.Haut



It has remained at high level from three seasons, and it even reaches a new recored this year with at least 31,330 cranes (instead of 28,000 last year and 30,000 in January 1997). The map of page 5 shows the differenr wintering areas.

Aquitaine is still at the first rank with more than 22,000 cranes, that is to say 71% of the French wintering population. Arjuzanx's   reserve accomodated 16,870 birds (instead of 15,000 last year and 20,000 in 1997). The " Camp du Poteau " at Captieux greeted 4350 cranes. (instead of 6,270 last year).
Three other sites also give shelter to cranes, but there are not so many : Muret - Yehoux (708 individuals), Saint Martin de Seignanx (218 individuals) and the Etang de Cousseau (27 individuals). 

The record of the number of wintering cranes was beaten this year, with more than 8,700 birds : 8,440 on the Lac du Der-Chantecoq and 320 on the Lakes of Aube.

Few observations this winter in Lorraine. At least 350 cranes wintered on the Etang de Lachaussée en Meuse

Other places
Here and there, a few cases of marginal winterings were noticed in other regions.
The more interesting sites are the Baie de l’Aiguillon (Vendée) where 25 cranes spent their winter and the Lac de Puydarrieux (Hautes-Pyrénnées) with 23 birds. Moreover, we mustn’t forget 1 bird in Camargue (13) and 1 young at the Etang de Forge-Neuve (Haute-Vienne).

hivernage 98/99

COMMON CRANES : wintering in France
(January 1999)

Pré-nuptial Migration 1999Haut

The pre-nuptial movements can be noticed as soon as the first days of the second half of January. They are due to cranes which leave their wintering areas in Aquitaine or in Champagne. Thus we can mention : 10 cranes on the 19 th at Tucquegnieux (54), 48 on the 25th at Saint-Priest Taurion (87), 27 on the 25 th at Chilleurs-aux-bois (45) and 30 on the 25 th at Amel-sur-l’Etang (55). On February 7, there are only 6,600 cranes left on the Lac du Der. During the three first weeks of February, the migrating flights become more steady and almost daily, but they don’t concern many birds.

Migration pré-nuptiale 1999

Added number of Commun Cranes during the first great wave. February 25 to 28, 1999.

First wave
On February 25, in forty minutes, a huge and massive departure of 25,000 cranes occurs at the Lac de la Sotonera in Spain , the last stopping place before the flight over the Pyrénées !
More than 20,000 of these birds then stop at Captieux (33/40) after 5 p.m. while the others keep flying North- Eastwards, crossing France by night (1,295 individuals are noticed migrating in Haute-Vienne). On the 26th, at least 10,000 cranes leave again Captieux : 3,150 are seen in Haute-Vienne and 1,170 in Cher. On the 27th, the last massive departure from Captieux occurs. These cranes are seen further in the North-East : more than 10,000 in Haute -Vienne, 7,700 in Allier, 3,000 in Cher and more than 4,000 in Nièvre.
Some of them stop in Champagne since 10,700 cranes are counted in the morning of e 28 th in the Lac du Der.
On the 28th, the cranes coming from Spain are still numerous and they fly over Aquitaine by thousands.
Later on the day, more than 12,000 cranes are thus seen in Limousin, and more than 5,000 in Nièvre. On march 1, there are still more than 10,700 on the Der. In total, that wave lasted four days and concerned more than 43,000 cranes !

Second wave
This one lasted more. On march 2 in the evening, during the night of the 2nd and 3rd and in the morning of the 3rd , more than 3,500 cranes fly across France : what is interesting here is that they passed west of the usual way, which is prooved by flights seen in Eure-et-Loir, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Somme and Nord !
In the fact the favorable weather conditions enabled the cranes to migrate everyday. Many of them stopped on the Lac du Der in Champagne but not for a long time. The highest number recorded for that period is only 10,700 on the 10th. The intensive daily renewal of the cranes on this site until the 14th has at least permitted to reach the number of 66,000 cranes in transit, which has been the second highest figure since the creation of the Lake.
The first half of that month will have concerned at least 25,000 cranes. It is important to notice that after heavy rainfall, many cranes at rest were seen : in Haute-Vienne (Limousin), Cher, Allier, Nièvre, Haute-Saône and Marne.

The late cranes<
During the second half of march, few cranes migrate. (Only between the 16th and the 28th). A few youngs at rest are still noticed in April :
- 2 in Leucate (11) and then in Gruisan (11), which spent their night on the Etang de Campigrol on the 4th.
- 1 on the meadows of Noyant/Soulaire-et-Bourg (49) on the 7th.
- 50 in Scey-sur-Saône (70) on the 15th.
- 1 on the Etang de la pétolée (86) on the Saône between the 21th and the 28th.Haut
- 2 in the Seine Estuary near le Havre between April 24 and May 2

Ringed Cranes : What to do ?

Each year, many cranes are ringed in their nesting areas, but also where they winter in Spain. Each crane thus receives colored rings which will enable us to recognize it individually.

If you see a crane with rings, don’t forget to write down :
- Colour and place of each ring
- Date and time
- Village and department
- Age (adult or young)
- Natural surrounding (cultivation, meadow...)
- If there are other cranes, if it is a familly (famillies remain together during whole winter), or if the birds have no familly links.
- The position of the metal ring when it is visible (it can help to identify a crane whose code would be incomplete).
- Any other interesting clue : distance of observation, equipment used, weather and luminosity conditions.
- Send your readings of coloured rings to your local association which send them to the LPO Champagne-Ardenne, the National association in charge of the data.

Les bagues

The activities of the French Crane Network have the support of the Fonds Interne pour la Vie Associative of the LPO.
This document couldn’t have been realized without the financial help of the Direction Régionale de l’Environnement (DIREN) Champagne-Ardenne.


The French Cranes Network


Managed by the Champagne-Ardenne League for the protection of Birds, the French Crane Network groups together all the French organizations and associations which are more or less interested in the cranes.
Its aim is that the members exchange all the pieces of information concerning the migration of this species in order to be able to tell the general public and the media about it.
The members of the French Crane Network :
CEEP, Charente Nature, Eure-et-Loir Nature, FLEPNA, GEOR, GNFC, GODS, GONm, Indre Nature, LPO Alsace, LPO Anjou, LPO Aquitaine, LPO Aude, LPO Auvergne, LPO Champagne-Ardenne, LPO Charente-Maritime, LPO Cher, LPO Haute-Savoie, LPO Loire-Atlantique, LPO Loire, LPO Lorraine, LPO PACA, LPO Vendée, LPO Vienne, LPO Tarn, LPO Touraine, LPO Yonne, Les Naturalistes Orléanais, OCL, ONC, Picardie Nature, ReNArd, la Route des Grues, SAIAK, SEPOL, SOBA Nature Nièvre.