Emigratory common cranes choose the valleys of the Amu Darya River, Tedjen and Kopetdag Mountains foothills

Photo: Aknabat POTAYEVA

The melodious clang of cranes is heard in the sky as spring and fall set in. In Turkmenistan, birds are observed during the spring and fall seasons of migration in various key ornithological territories - including the territories of international importance - in the Durnaly settlement ("crane place"), as well as in the Kopetdag State Reserve.

Common cranes - conservative birds that prefer the same routes of migration and places for rest fly through these places. The first groups of these birds arrive at the end of February, and by the end of April they fly to the nesting places. This year, long winter kept the birds: they rested, fed, waited, gathered in groups, made short trips, did not hurry with the final departure. Finally, they gathered in big flocks and with melodious clang, circling over the place that they left, went to the northern regions.

Now the autumn migration has started and the first representatives of these noble creatures have already arrived in Turkmenistan. Every autumn they stop in Turkmenistan to feed, and some of them stay for the winter. In 2015, ecologists counted fifty wintering cranes in Durnaly and on the territory of the reserve, and during the 2016-2017 wintering period a hundred birds stayed there. These beautiful birds could be seen looking for food in agricultural fields or tamarisk family brushwoods in daytime. And for an overnight stay, birds flocked to the local salt lake and settled in shallow water, hidden from prying eyes by thickets of near-water vegetation and surrounded by salt marshes. The specialists of the reserve will monitor the wintering and transient cranes. In the migration season, scientists hope to see the 'red book' demoiselle crane and the rare white cranes that can migrate through Turkmenistan. The local ornithologists visit the wintering grounds several times to ensure protection and optimal conditions for feathered guests to our country. In the Turkmen lands, cranes feed on plants and animal food, eat shoots, roots, as well as insects, mollusks, small rodents and amphibians. They bunch together in small groups of six birds or flocks of forty species, they are very cautious, rising into the air at the slightest danger. The specialists of the reserve monitor and take photos of birds with great care, choosing unfaurable for flights weather conditions.

Seasonal migrations of the gray crane last from February to May and from the end of August to November. On the territory of Turkmenistan, this inhabitant of open landscapes and wetlands stops and winters in the valleys of the Amu Darya River, Tedjen and in the foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains. Over a thosand species can gather together in one place. There are five dozens of key ornithological territories in the country, of which at least thirty ones are considered potentially important for wintering or migrating of cranes. The gray crane is widely spread from Western Europe and Asia Minor to Kazakhstan and Western Siberia. The birds winter in Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan, as well as in the Persian Gulf countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and North Africa.