The magical flight of the common crane

The emblematic migratory bird of the Lac du Der in Champagne

A grandiose show put on by mother nature

Each year, thousands of curious enthusiasts flock to see the flock!

From mid-October to mid-March is the ideal time to see the flights of cranes. Early morning, so early in fact that you have to get up before dawn, is the best time to catch the spectacular sight. The best point of view is on the dike, at the edge of the Lac du Der.

While the first gleams of autumn tinge the sky and the water turns from pink to orange, thousands of cranes come to rest for a few hours or days with their stereotypical "croo croo" cry. The clamour rises and amplifies as the sun's first rays peep over the horizon.


In their hundreds and then thousands, shaving the waves and climbing over the dike and spectators, children and adults alike, this show is a veritable gift of nature.

Regenerated by their ovenight rest in the middle of the Lac du Der which offers them a haven of peace of almost 5000 hectares, the cranes leave their dormitory to feed in the neighboring fields or continue their great migration.

Three questions to Louis Parisel

Coordinator of crane counting for the Bird Protection League at the Lac du Der.

What kind of visitors come to see the cranes?

"Oh, bird lovers of all kinds! Birdwatchers, photographers, old folk, families, parents with their children. Everybody!

There is no youngest age to appreciate the flight of the cranes at the Lac du Der. Their take-off at first light is a unique sight nobody who sees it ever forgets! It really is an exceptional experience."

Why do you count them?

"Because the Lac du Der is the most important stop-over for this species in Europe, it's essential to get an idea of the population size. This bird as been a protected species since 1967. The counts are carried out by volunteers who always adore the event, even though they have to get up before sunrise to help out!"

What are the best places to see the flights of cranes?​

"In the morning, they group together in the centre of the area bordered by the dikes mostly taking off toward the west, north and south. They can travel for up to 30 km around the lake to feed. Some continue their migration. To admire this show and a beautiful sunrise just find a place on the dike."

See the cranes and other birds with an ornithologist

An event not to be missed: The festival of the Crane (Fête de la Grue)

Autumn half-term

The Ferme aux Grues (crane farm), in Saint-Rémy-en-Bouzemont, is located in an old farm, in the main feeding area of the Cranes. Every year, from mid-February to mid-March, mixed organic grains are grown to attract the birds and prevent them from dmaging crops in neighbouring fields. A bird watching post is open to visitors.

Parents will love hire and all the valuable information provided by the ornithologist guides present on site.

Children will love
...a ride on the Bird Train or enjoying a hot chocolate or orange juice.