When the cold weather comes… so do the cranes.

You might be startled by a trumpeting sound. If you look up at that moment, you will see a V-shaped flock of birds. That is the signal. Get you thick coat out of storage, because now you know that winter is here.

Every year, thousands of cranes come from northern Europe. Some are passing through on their way to Africa but many winter here in Extremadura and one of their favourite spots is the El Borbollón reservoir, 20 minutes from El Sosiego in the Santibáñez el Alto district. Here, wetland; holm oak, cork and oak woods; dry farmland; and pasture make a splendid home for the cranes.

Visiting El Borbollón to see the cranes is a favourite winter activity here in the Sierra de Gata. The early birds come in late October and the last few do not leave until April but the peak months are December, January and February so that is the best time for spotting these migratory birds, which spend their summers in Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.

If you can, it is best to take a telescope or some good binoculars. A good lens will get you some magnificent photos of these birds, easy to distinguish by their long legs and beak and their grey plumage. They are an impressive size: up to 7 kilos and a 2-metre wingspan. At El Sosiego we can put you in touch with naturalist groups who do ornithological routes at this time of year for spotting cranes.

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