The Arrival of the Cranes.

Autor Dave Langlois
Photo by Sam Langlois

It’s one of the most stunning son-et-lumière spectacles in Spain and even in Europe. And right here on our doorstep.”

One by one the splendid songsters of spring’s concert fall silent in summer. Nightingales and blackbirds peter out in June, golden orioles a couple of weeks later. Blackcaps hang on into July but often get stuck in the same phrase like a scratched LP. By August the heat-weary silence is complete. In September robins begin their melancholy autumn song, especially at dawn, but with occasional dribbles during the day too. On sunny days of September and October woodlarks will treat us to a reminder of their airborne chromatic mastery. Cirl buntings sometimes rattle away a bit from atop a juniper tree. From time to time too, down in the underbrush, a wren might burst into song only to fizzle out as soon as it starts like a damp squib. It’s really a pretty insipid fare compared to the glories of spring.

Photo by Sam Langlois

And suddenly comes a blare of trumpets like a brass fanfare shattering a pianissimo passage in a Mahler symphony. Cranes!

The dehesas to the south of Villanueva de la Vera fill up with cranes. They’re threefold big: in bodily size, flock numbers and voice. They boast a fascinating repertoire of bugle calls, screeches and guttural trills, keeping constant contact with each other as they move around during the day in search of oak mast, roots and other tidbits within their omnivorous diet. But the most astonishing sight comes each day at dusk, from October to February, when they wing in to their roost in Rosarito reservoir. Undulating lines appear in the south over Villuercas sierra, as though lifted off from the real skyline.

Closer they come, now taking up the whole horizon. The cacophony of their clashing calls grows in volume as they come until, deafeningly, they pass right overhead and plane down to their roost against the snowy peaks of Gredos mountain range, catching the last light of the sinking sun. Already more lines are appearing on the horizon and the whole process repeats, again and again. It’s one of the most stunning son-et-lumière spectacles in Spain and even in Europe. And right here on our doorstep. You’re not really going to miss it, are you?