Common Cranes, also known as Eurasian Crane or “Grus grus” (Trana in Swedish), are gathered in large groups in the lake Hornborgarsjön in Västergötland Sweden every year. The numbers vary but it can be up to 27000 at the same day. They stay to eat grain that is put out on the fields, before they fly further north. This year I had booked a hide on the fields to watch and take photos of the Cranes that actually are the largest (tallest) bird in Europe.
It was a big storm when I headed for Hornborgarsjön. On the radio they warned for trees that had fallen across the roads so I was a little nervous to enter the small hides in the open plains next to the lake… Lucky for me the wind decreased and as it turned out, the weather during my stay was going to be absolutely great! I packed my gear and headed for my night stay, Hallebergs Bed & Breakfast, where I unloaded my equipment. I can strongly recommend this! I then met with the representatives of the hide who instructed me as preparation for the stay. When we arrived at the hides, one of the hides had fallen down in the storm! Lucky, no one was in the hide… Then I went back to the B&B for a few hours of sleep.
Morning and arrival
I entered the small hide at 4:45 in the morning and it took a while until I had arranged all my gear so I could fit. The size of the hide is app. 2m² and combines livingroom, kitchen, bathroom 🙂 This hide has 9 openings for camera, including 3 low openings (one that is visible below) which suited my photography perfect as I love low angel shots. Most images are taken from these openings.
It didn’t take long until all Cranes started to arrive from the lake. During the night they put out tons of grain for them in the fields around Hornborgarsjön and they are anxious to start feeding in the morning. It’s an unrealistic experience sitting in the hide and see thousands of Cranes arrive in the sky, all screaming loudly.
When they had all arrived there were 16100 Cranes acc. to Länsstyrelsen. The morning was beautiful and it was so many that I didn’t know which way to turn… I had two different cameras with me. My Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a range of lenses from 24 mm to 500mm + 1,4 and 2x converters and my new Sony A9 with a 200-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 with an 1,4X converter. I brought two tripods but after a while I realised that it was too much hazzel so I put them aside and used the bottom of the openings in the hide as support. I also used a beanbag when I was laying on the floor and shot through the low openings. As it turned out I shot more than 6000 photos during the day! The morning light was fantastic.
One of my dreams was to see the dance of the Cranes and I was not going to be disappointed, see “video” below which is a GIF made from 115 still images. It was difficult not to smile by myself in the hide when I saw this. Amazing behaviour and great to witness.
During the day I got the opportunity to takes photos of all possible situation including “battles”, feeding and dancing, see some photos below.
For a larger range of photos, please see my Cranes gallery.
The sound of Common Cranes
It was a constant chatter/screaming the whole day. In the short video below you can hear what I heard during 16 hours 🙂
Below is a selected range of photos of the day. In the end of the post I include a few photos from the sunset and I was lucky enough to capture them as silhouettes against the sun as well as against the beautiful evening sky.
Sunset and evening light
The light had been more then great during the day and the sunset with the light aterwards was equally amazing!
A perfect ending of a perfect day! I will be back! 🙂
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