Who wants to observe the huge accumulations of Common Cranes (Grus grus) in fall, will find excellent opportunities near the seaside resort of Zingst in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Zingst and Darß were declared a National Park in 1990 due to their natural coastline and the unique so-called Boddenlandschaft. Together with the Fischland, they form a peninsula in the course of the Mecklenburg coast between Rostock and Stralsund.
When we started the first exploration on an early October morning, the sky was still pitch black. We headed south and wanted to be in front of the cranes at the known feeding grounds. But when we reached the town of Barth, the sky was already reddened by the morning sun, and crowds of wild geese and cranes were already calling out loudly over the city on the way to the harvested fields for finding food. So we were too late. Nevertheless, we stopped briefly, because it was not possible to concentrate on the road, as we were fascinated by the spectacle of the birds in the sky above us. Finally we gave it a try and quickly left the city. Meanwhile, flocks of wild geese, but especially cranes, moved in unbroken succession.
Common Cranes leave their resting places on the sandbanks in the Baltic Sea before sunrise and then move across the Bodden to the harvested fields of potato, maize and corn in order to arrange a solid bacon layer for their imminent long journey into southern wintering areas. Outside the city, the car traffic immediately declined, and on side roads one was almost alone. A flat farmland, isolated rows of trees, now and then a single farmstead, finally a small village – this is the landscape in low-populated Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Because there were hardly any farm roads in this area, one had to travel around a bit in the area to get close to a Common Crane. In this case, an old tradition pays again. As long as the car is rolling, the animals wait and look cautious. If you approach carefully you might even be lucky that even the shy Cranes stay or were only slowly moving away. Sometimes it was also useful to park the vehicle behind a tree or a bush. Your presence – of course – cannot be disguised. You did not escape the sharp-eyed and suspicious Cranes, but they bore it better. Especially early in the morning, when they hungrily entered the fields, Cranes can be approached quite close. Sometimes perseverance led to the goal. Once, for more than four hours, I was sitting in the car waiting in front of a field. Before that, a few hundred cranes had been standing there, but they disappeared during my approach. There was no photolight that day, so I stayed and only looked. And indeed, my vehicle was gradually accepted by the animals. Later I started my shooting session and photographed from distance as low as 30 meters.
To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic. Beside the image above you can find a nice selection of birds in the Gallery of the Cranes in Vorpommern or in the “Pictures Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if Bird-Lens could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.