Salva Fauna
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A Sky Full Of Cranes / Tour Report November 2018

Meeting late morning with our participants at our accommodation, we checked-in and quickly took off to start our birding tour in Lake Der-Chantecoq. Weather conditions were much better than expected, so we adjusted the itinerary to take advantage of the beautiful light.

We explored the Bassin Nord of Lake Der-Chantecoq, stopping at the Presqu’île de Larzicourt and Sainte-Marie-du-Lac-Nuisement where had had a nice pique-nique. The Bassin Nord, located at the north west of the lake, is usually great for rarities. This time we spotted a Red-throated Loon, an Arctic Loon, and 4 Velvet Scoters!

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Later in the afternoon, we headed to the Etangs d'Outines et d'Arrigny for a quick stop, and then to the Observatoire de Chantecoq for the return of the Common Cranes. We stayed until the last cranes passed by and the light was gone.

That night, local counters estimated the total number of Common Cranes at 60000!! We stopped at our accommodation for some free time around the fire and then went to a great local restaurant for diner.

On day 2 we woke up early to enjoy the sunrise with the Common Cranes. When you go birding at Lake Der-Chantecoq in November at the peak of the Common Cranes migration, you cannot miss sunrise or sunset. This is one of the most incredible birding experiences you can have in France. The passage of the cranes last for more than an hour. It was amazing.

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Then we explored the countryside heading south towards Etang de la Horre and had many great opportunities with the Common Cranes feeding in the fields.

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Etang de la Horre did not bring anything special unfortunately, so we stayed less long that we anticipated. We took the road north to La Breche, driving through the western side of Lake Der-Chantecoq This area is absolutely stunning. Once at La Breche, the wildest corner of the lake, we had a great pique-nique and watched fantastic birds, including Willow Tits, more than a hundred Great White Egrets, hundreds of Black-Headed Gulls, etc. Mid-afternoon we went to Giffaumont trying to spot the Long-eared owls and then went to the Digue de Rougemer for another sunset with the Common Cranes. Back to the accommodation for some free time. Great diner at a local restaurant.

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For our last day, we decided to enjoy sunrise in a different spot. Weather was overcast but there was this great band of open sky right where the sun rose. The moment was absolutely magical!

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After that, we headed to Etangs d'Outines et d'Arrigny. There, highlights included a Water Rail in the open for about an hour, a beautiful European Robin coming several times to perch right in front of the hide, a family of Coypus putting on a show, and the sighting of a Black Woodpecker.

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After that, we stopped at the Observatoire de Chantecoq for a brief moment and then headed to Giffaumont for lunch. Our last birding session took place at the Bassin Sud, and we finally came back to our accommodation where the tour ended.

During this 3 day bird photography tour at Lake Der-Chantecoq, we explored every single corner of the lake as well as the countryside around it. We ended up seeing 85 bird species and our participants had many many great photo opportunities.

Jonathan
Guide Salva Fauna