The Swedish Reintroduction Project on White Storks is running better than ever. Yet, the work with this long-distance migrant bird has been all but straightforward, and a major obstacle has been the birds’ unwillingness to migrate. The turning point came two years ago when about 25 juveniles left Skåne on their first autumn migration.
|Equipped with a GPS by Raymond Klaassen & Berith Cavallin.|
This year, two juveniles were equipped with 35 gram solar GPS from Northstar. Thanks to Johan Bäckman at CAnMove the storks’ journey has been possible to follow on a map on the project’s webpage. The migration routes and wintering areas of these birds are typical to the European storks of today. One flew southeast, through east Europe, the Bosporus, crossed the Sinai dessert and stopped at the pre-wintering area in Tchad. After three months it headed south and reached South Africa at New Year’s Eve. The second stork migrated southwest and stopped at a rubbish dump in Spain. In fact, half of the west migrating population winter in the Iberian Peninsula, whereas the rest carry on to sub-Saharian West Africa. The study was funded by Foundation Lund Animal Welfare Fund.
In 2011, the number of migrating storks reached 100 – a magnitude similar to long before local extinction! The large number was made possible by the release of some 70 captive bred juveniles. Even this year captive juveniles were released and almost 90 storks migrated. In 2014 the first storks are expected to come back to breed. This will be a critical step since recruitment has to be sufficient for a sustainable population in Skåne. During the next couple of years the project will expand to new localities in Skåne where pairs will be released to settle and breed. Photos: Emma Ådahl. www.storkprojektet.se
/Emma Ådahl, project manager