Queen Marie Antoinette saw a crane that had been brought to France from the steppes of Russia. Because of its delicate and maidenly appearance she called it La Grue Demoiselle.
The village of Khishan is about 6 km west of Phalodi, Rajasthan. From August on Demoiselle Cranes arrive here to spend the winter. Their numbers build up and peak between November and February. For some years now the people of Khichan have systematically fed the cranes which now assemble in spectacular numbers.
The western population that winters in Africa is in significant decline. The eastern population is secure. Those that winter in India have to negotiate the Himalayas. They are creatures of supreme elegance and are associated in folklore, poetry and song with womanly beauty and hazardous journeys.
I was present, at dawn, on the roof of a house that overlooks the feeding area and happy to share my telescope with some local people who were on their way home from a night of wedding celebration.