Thursday, March 20, 2014

Trandansen @ Hornborgasjön (Courting Cranes at Lake Hornborga)

Spring can be appreciated only if one is in a cold place. And if someone from a tropical country is in a Scandinavian country, spring does mean a lot! After months of chilling cold, darkness, plain black-and-white everywhere around, spring brings with it a lot of hope... of light, of warmth, of colors. It also marks the season when life returns back in nature.
This is when the birds that migrated down south, half a year ago return to their breeding land. In central Sweden, the onset of spring is marked by the return of cranes in thousands, which stop by at a lake named Hornborga. Swedish believe that it is these cranes that bring spring and have high regard for these birds. Often the first batch of cranes is eagerly awaited.
Year after year they return to the same place, breed their offsprings and fly up north. Of course while returning back they make a stopover at the same place but they don't breed then. Spring season as such makes this place lovely and vibrant. Usually the cranes are in thousands there during the spring. The exact date they come here, is not really predictable, but when they do come it is a spectacular sight to watch. On a good spring day, the numbers can go up to 15000 along with other birds.
Dancing is the typical courtship behaviour of cranes where male tries to impress the female by jumping around, circling around and doing all sorts of acrobatics. Normally, all cranes don't dance during the same time but when they do I guess it is quite magnificent to watch. The cranes usually camp around for a few days here, lucky ones choose their partner, a few breed in the lake but a majority fly up north for breeding.
Here are some more pictures from the visit. Do enjoy.

Eurasian Cranes among Whooper Swans
European Lapwing

Mute Swan

Blsck headed Gull
Eurasian Cranes in evening sunlight

Info about the Place.

Hornborgasjön is one of the most important bird lakes in Europe which attracts large number of birds especially Eurasian Cranes during their yearly migration from north to south and back. Lake Hornborga is known for large congregations of Eurasian Cranes during spring and especially known for their courtship dance (Trandansen)
The local administration has set up the nature centre (naturum) and bird watching towers/places for nature lovers. Hides are also available on request. The administration also feeds the birds, the feed is typically put during the evening when the birds fly out of the lake to the fields and return back. The administration also keeps a count of birds and publish. The cranes are counted at dusk when they fly into the lake to sleep. Counting is done manually using binoculars. Albeit the counting is done manually, the efforts are made to keep it as accurate as possible.
More details on this website in Swedish



Any more interesting stuff on these birds? Any corrections in Ids? Please do drop in your valuable inputs...