(On March 12th we pointed our campervan east and began a trip to Greece to welcome the Spring. Charlie has made me the most wonderful retreat on wheels - photos later - we travel slowly and live simply, by 'wild' camping).
The Night of a Thousand Cranes...
We spent our first night parked on Dover Prom, lulled to sleep by the shushing of waves on shingle. Night two was spent on the edge of Lac du Der - Chantecoq, the largest lake in France. We arrived to the sound of bugles and looked up to see thousands of cranes ribboning across the lilac sky towards their island roosting site. That night I dreamt of cranes dancing in stubble fields under the silver moon.
A bugling alarm clock woke us at 6am the following morning. I leapt out of bed, which only the sound of passing geese, and now cranes can make me do. I sleep-walked to the water's edge, a lone witness to the noisy take off of cranes, gliding low past the rising sun and sliding over water the colour of freshly sliced blood oranges. The sound was like a whole orchestra of those long trumpets with banners below being blown to herald the start of a medieval jousting tournament. A flock of curlew joined in the chorus and a chiff-chaff or two added some rhythm.
Later we found La Ferme aux Grues (Farm of the Cranes) and climbed to the top of a tower hide to watch 50 feeding cranes po-go-ing and bugling whilst a spec of a skylark poured its high brow song over the brash punk rockers.
We watched great crested grebes doing their courtship display, coming together to form their necks into a heart shape, heard green woodpeckers laughing and chiff-chaffs, reed buntings, sparrows, blackbirds, thrushes, curlews, starlings and herons.
Spring had arrived in France and the air was filled with the glorious sound of it; bugling, trumpeting, yaffling, honking, chirping, tweeting, splashing, flapping, fluttering, buzzing, swishing, drumming, clicking, whistling and barking.