Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Waiting for the Cranes under Warm, Silky Skies

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Waiting for the Cranes under Warm, Silky Skies

Article excerpt

On an autumn afternoon in Brandenburg, one of those days when the light has just a hint of silk to it, my son Lucas and I are in the village of Linum with some friends, waiting for what is, in these parts, one of the natural world's most beautiful and oddly moving events.

At first, nothing happens. We stand by one of the many ponds that dot this marshy area, staring up at a rose-tinted sky while, behind us, the moon rises through a stand of birch trees. People have come from far and wide to see the show, some armed with deckchairs and huge cameras, and though nobody can predict which pond the birds will favour on any given evening we know that, eventually, the sky will darken as wave after wave of common cranes (Grusgrus) fly in to take shelter for the night.

On a good day, they come in their thousands and the sound is deafening (our friend Bernhard describes the cry as being "like a wheel that needs oiling")--and, as it happens, this turns out to be a pretty good day. They are not as numerous as they were last week, Bernhard says, and they do not choose to settle on our pond but the cranes do come and soon we are dumbstruck, gazing up at the endlessly varying formations as groups of 50 to 100 birds at a time pass overhead, their ragged flight patterns reflected in the still, silvery water. This lasts for around an hour as darkness closes in until, finally, the sky quietens.

A few days from now, these cranes will leave, moving on to their winter grounds in Spain. They gather around Linum for only a short time, to feed and recover their strength during these warm autumn days. But with the first cold they are gone and the fish restaurant by the pond closes for the season. Tonight, though, it is still open and the staff are jolly, cracking daft jokes while they serve up delicious platters of grilled trout and carp, most of the catch coming from the surrounding ponds. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.