Spring is here!

This afternoon the sky has been full of geese heading north. It still is. I can hear them right now. There were a few hundred yesterday. Today there must have been tens of thousands.

For a couple of weeks I have watched nature unfold. My aconites came and went, out came the snowdrops, first crocuses and daffodils. Now they are coming and coming. The aconites are already over, the snowdrops fading. There are daisies, speedwell, dogtooth violets and a profusion of dandelions. In the ditches and pools there are fire salamander tadpoles, nearby a buzzard is building a nest. A kestrel already has hers. There is a Bonelli's eagle for the third spring in row, usually a quick visit but enough to excite the local nature watcher again. Now to wait for the hoopoes, the cuckoo and, and and...

I can still hear the geese. I have heard them non-stop for over two hours. They arrive and pass, formation of over formation, one after the other with their wonderful cacophony.

It is springtime again!

Ah springtime, it's amazing the difference in timespan each hundred miles/kilometres makes. To the south of England they have a week or two's start on the north in terms of plant growth. Near the Scottish border currently snowdrops remain in full bloom, some daff's have buds, but stand only 100 to 150 mm high. Daisies and dandelions, nettle and bramble are but a distant memory. Odd skeins of geese are heard but very few in each and not often. Given that the only part of the USA that is so far north as the UK is Alaska the perspective is enlightened. Is the north of France experiencing springtime yet ?

I lived and worked on the marshes overlooking Breydon Water (Burgh Castle) , an expanse of water which feeds into/from, the Bure,Yare, Waveney and the Wensum and the wildlife is amazing at times as you can imagine. The Coot Club (Ransome) remains one of my favourite reads as it conjours up perfectly marshland life. The big pest used to be the coypu a big rat with big gnashers originating from South America but a beast which became very much a part of marshland life. It became a big nuisance to farmers because of it's fondness to wiping out fields of crops in one foul swoop ! It's quite 'amusing' to see them enjoying life in the Haute Vienne too ! One golf course not too far away has the little blighters eating a couple of waterside greens!

Both the cranes and geese fly 'above' the wind but below the clouds which helps see that the clouds are often higher than you imagine and that the reason the wind seems to have you off your feet but the clouds creeping across the sky soooooooooooooo sloooooowly is not contradictory. They avoid high mountains, so here they have snuck round the Pyrenees and you might just have enough of the edge of the Alps below you although off to one side. The air is usually warmer over the Atlantic. A few bunches have just gone over in the last few minutes, wing tips raised like human middle fingers to the bloomin' biting edge of the north wind down here.

It must be great along the Bure with all that marshland, so don't imagine the Wash gets it all!

Blimey, interesting stuff. My friends are at Bouniagues and had quite a show apparently.

Norfolk has it's fair share of visitors of course, especially up towards the north (posh bit !) and less in my area of Broadland. A spectacular sight wherever you are that's for sure.

A strongish northery wind out there this morning so the geese did their homework or they had some good meteo info from Michel Poisson ?

Peter, yes. They follow the same routes for all time in principle. So what we see today may have happened for thousands of years. The geese start south of the Sahara and then gradually disperse as they reach the better feeding grounds of Europe all the way up to the other side of the Arctic circle. They always return to where they were hatched and grew to young adults then went south. The cranes are kind of spread out from the bottom of Spain in the west through to Ethiopia/Sudan at lowest, across to SE Asia migrating up to the same northern areas as geese. They migrate at more or less the same time. They are then spread out from here in France right across to eastern Siberia. The UK does not get the cranes but you must have seen the geese in Norfolk.

It is great big V formations that occasionally 'stop', spiral as a huge cluster in thermals to regain height and then go back into Vs. We watched a couple of clusters that must have been several thousand strong. Up they went then smooth as oil into squadrons. The geese were passing non-stop for about four hours. Because the cranes are further over toward Bergerac unless we happen to be there, for instance where Véro lives, we miss out. Imagine being exactly between the two!

I spoke with my friends near Bergerac who saaid the sky almost darkened because of the tens of thousands of Cranes etc. I'm currently in Cahors which isn't a million mile from that course and there's not a sausage !

So, i'm asking an innocent question as a thickie, do the birds always follow the same annual course ? Do they all group together and join or rejoin their fellow cranes as they go along, a bit like a funnel system ? or is it random ?

Oh yes, we could see other birds closer over your way, must have been them.

On the other hand, the nettles are pushing up, brambles are full of promise, we have a report of child labour among Syrian refugee children to draft by Friday and I have no time for the brushcutter or mowers....

Another sign of Spring is the 90 Bac blanc papers I have to correct, & here I am procrastinating...

Skeins after skein after skein of cranes flying directly over my house & chatting, I love seeing & hearing them. There have been thousands today.