These cranes resting on a harvested patch in northeastern Germany. In this region, the cranes stay for approximately 4 weeks in fall before heading to the south of France and Spain to spend the winter in those warmer areas.
This year we saw plenty of birds, but only few of them were adolescents. The last two years were hard for them because they need wetlands to find food and also for protecting their nests from predators like foxes. The two last years were very hot compared with the usual summers. The months of summer also lacked rain. And the last winter was also way too dry so that the reservoirs were not properly refilled before the next hot summer started.
This hot summer ended way earlier than the last one, although the temperatures were much higher. We cracked the 40°C mark. While the highest measured temperature in 2018 was 39°C (36°C where I live), we got 43°C this year where I live. In 2018 the fall started in about mid-November, while it started this year by the end of July to get back to our ‘normal’ summerly weather and even fall started early. Up to now, we have several wet weeks again. No hard rain, but much of spray-rain and drizzling. Showers every now and then. I really hope, this will be enough to refill the natural reservoirs.
Those of you, following me on Instagram might have guessed I’m on a trip again, and they were right. For a few days the pendulum inside me as a nature photographer turned from ‘landscape mode’ to ‘wildlife mode’.
I was part of an excursion team for photographing the common cranes while they rest in that region and before they start to the second part of their fall migration. For the first days of my trip I started alone and got some amazing results. Cranes are extremely shy. They have a fleeing distance of about 300m (some rangers even said 900m – but, I can’t believe that). You have to avoid to disturb them. Every start to fly costs much of their energy. And this energy is needed for the migration. They have to eat much to have enough energy for the long and exhausting trip. On the second part they fly from north-eastern Germany to Southern France or Spain. The birds are big. They are about 120cm high (females a bit smaller) and have a wing spread of about 200 – 240 cm.
Most of them life in wet forests in Poland, Russia and the Baltic, but also in Scandinavia. They have only 1 or 2 eggs and each of the parents take care of one fledgling. Now, the fledglings are nearly as big as the parents. But, you can still recognise them easily.
With the excursion team, we got permission to enter some restricted parts of the National Park “Mecklenburgische Boddenlandschaft”. We observed the arrival of the cranes in their sleeping area and the morning start.
Another high-light was the morning trip on our last day: observing the deer rut. About 15 males bellowed in the huge lighting and trying to collect females. Nearly all of them didn’t have had a female, while one stag has had a harem of 21 females (just, like ABBA sang: the winner takes it all). Nevertheless the stags were comparing their strength in bellowing, walking and fighting. Amazing time.
During the excursion I got lent a f/5.6 800mm lens that I used on my APS-C camera (so, I got 1200mm). A very heavy lens, usable only with a tripod. Fortunately, mine was strong enough the carry that burden. My own longest lens is only 400mm. In combination with the tele-converter I also get 800mm, but with lower quality. That combination is less bright and thus less fast. While the 800mm lens does not have an image stabilizer (but a tripod), but I have a working AF. On my 400mm with tele-converter the AF only works under good light conditions.
Most of my images are taken with ISO 3200 and ISO 1600 at f/5.6 or f/6.3 at distances of more than 200 – 300 m. So, the 800mm lens was a necessity to get good images.
Don’t forget, to view the gallery below this post. I already developed a few images an attached them to this post in no particular order.
Help saving our environment and the animals to make this planet a good place to live in for us and the following generations. Also, keep this planet in good shape for your kids, so that the following generations are also able to gaze at the marvellous events and places through their own eyes instead of having to trust ancient documentaries.
What a cruel summer! We have August 1st. That’s in the middle of the summer, the middle of the hottest days of the year. But, the thermometer says: +5°C at night and max. +15°C at day. We still get much of rain very often. Leaves are starting to colorize yellow and many of them have already fallen down. The plants behave like they are already preparing for winter. Mushrooms pop up and hazelnuts are ripe. Yesterday I’ve even heard the first group of cranes migrating to the south. Other birds are still growing their descendants. I also missed the swallows and the swifts chasing flying insects for some days. Perhaps they have already begun their migration, too.
I guess, this year summer is skipped. What a queer year 😦