Bocian Biały w dolinach rzek

21199810 10155738380791683 3626070395232233647 oLast storks are slowly preparing for migration, and among them is our friend - the wired stork (any idea of a name for him?). Today we watched a group of 8 birds (3 adult and 5 juvenile) preying in the rain near the village of Jabłoń Kościelna in the north of Podlasie. Our stork has already flown 80 kilometers from the place of breeding. That’s not many. At least the direction is right. He’s heading south.

The bird has been staying there for a few days so we decided to check what stopped him there. Haying, plowing and harrowing all around - a peak of field works. Abundance of food has drawn not only storks, but also numerous clawed birds: western marsh harriers, kestrels and buzzards; tens of them were hunting in the fields today.

This year we put GSM transmitter on two young individuals bred in a rehabilitation center at the Biebrza National Park in Grzędy; the transmitters allow ongoing observation of their migration. Through this activity we want to test whether birds rehabilitated in the so-far recognized way feel the same migration anxiety that makes them move to wintering areas just like the completely wild individuals, or maybe they are the storks we see here in winter periods or wandering all over Europe.

Unfortunately, one of the devices stopped transmitting. We don’t know the reason for that. Luckily, one of the storks is well and travels along some wild individuals. We hope he will reach Africa successfully. A very long road is ahead of him. It’s full of deadly dangers: power lines, wind farms, poachers. We keep our fingers crossed.

Next year we plan to repeat the experiment. This time we want to put transmitters on 4 storks.

00Storks are leaving our country. Their number is decreasing day by day. It’s a good time to sum the last season up.

In the first half of July, we controlled more than 2228 stork nests in the north-eastern Poland, in the territory of 9 Natura 2000 areas! 1628 of them were occupied by couples who had already started hatching. Unfortunately, not all of them have succeeded. Lucky enough were 1415 couples who bred 3516 chicks. Thus a statistical couple bred 2.1 of chicks. That’s a good result for the species, as it allows keeping a stable population.

The research conducted in Poland shows that approx. 4% of the young will die right after they fly off their nest. The main reasons for that are collisions with power lines and electric shocks. That is why we have elaborated a special protection device which eliminates this phenomenon in a quick, simple and cheap manner. We will continue to write about it.

 

9821We encourage you to read the article by Łukasz Krajewski on the first travels of one of them.

In mid July the ornithologists from the Polish Society for Bird Protection, together with the employees of the Animals Rehabilitation Center in Grzędy put transmitters on two storks. The transmitter records the bird’s location on an ongoing basis through an in-built GPS receiver. The recorded coordinates are sent by the transmitter every once in a while using a GSM signal and recorded on a server. This way the data on the current location of the wired stork is obtained. We will learn whether the birds raised in the Center, without the care of adult storks, are able to cope with their freedom and whether they join other storks to fly with them to Africa in winter.

The first of 2 storks wearing the transmitters left the Grzędy Center last Saturday (05.08) late in the evening. The storks in Grzędy are staying in an aviary, from which they can fly out if they can fly. The bird was nurtured since it was a little nestling that fell out or was thrown out of a nest in Sztabin. The young stork spent the first night after leaving the Grzędy Center on the peatbog between the Grzędy forest complex and Czerwone Bagno. On Sunday and Monday, the bird traveled short distances in the meadows by the Jegrznia river near Wóźnawieś and Kuligi. And on Tuesday, it flew over 30 km in the south-west direction and stayed near the town of Sulewo in the Grajewo poviat (map attached). The other stork wearing the transmitter is still in the Center. We will keep you informed about the fates of our storks in subsequent news.

author: Łukasz Krajewski, Biebrza National Park

4 sierpniaHere is an example of why our white stork protection project is so important. Apart from moving nests from roofs we also replace old and fatigued wooden and concrete poles on which nests are located, with new spun prestressed concrete poles. This time the birds were very lucky. The pole broke over a week ago during a storm, but the young had already been well grown and had a soft landing. We recommended the owners to leave the lucky three on a fenced property and watch if the parents come and feed them. They did. We visited them today; the birds can fly and are doing well. In September a new pole will be stood in place of the broken one. It will have a 25-year guarantee. This time such an accident won’t happen.

In early April we wrote about an old spring ritual we at Drozdowo elementary school as part of the Life project entitled “Protection of the white stork in river valleys of the eastern Poland”. We baked the so-called “busłowe łapy”, that is stork feet shaped rolls. According to the tradition (and by courtesy of PGE Branch in Łomża), “busłowe łapy” were placed in an abandoned stork nest, to encourage storks to settle there. 
Just imagine today morning’s situation: not one, but two storks are in the nest!!! And they’re in an unambiguous position! The bakings of the children of Drozdowo must have drawn them there. We are waiting for the effects in the form of hatch.

Łomżyński Park Krajobrazowy

As part of our stork project we have just bought a drone to assess the hatching success using two methods - classic (from the ground) and from the air (by drone). We are planning to test them over a 3-year monitoring conducted in Biebrzańska Refuge, to verify how big a mistake is made with the former method and possibly suggest a correction that will allow more accurate estimation of the hatching success with large-area stock-taking of this species. Initial tests show that storks are not afraid of the drone, although it draws their interest. They neither attack the aircraft nor escape from their nests. Here are some photos from the first flights. More is coming soon.

Within the project of protection of the white stork funded from Life resources, in order to compensate for the loss of nesting sites of sparrows and tree sparrows, we decided to mount 3 nesting boxes under every moved nest. Why this number? Well, a few years ago we conducted a study of the occupation of white stork nests by other bird species and it turned out that their main inhabitants are sparrows, tree sparrows and starlings. There were on average 3.5 pairs per one nest. At the end of March, we checked a few of these boxes. There were no storks on the nests yet, but all the boxes already had occupants! This confirms that it is a necessary and important part of protecting these small passerine birds. We intend to explore this phenomenon more thoroughly.

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The Polish Society for Bird Protection has begun a series of meetings with residents living in areas of the ongoing LIFE project entitled “ Protection of the White stork in river valleys of eastern Poland”.
Many years ago, in early spring, in every village home in Podlasie and Kurpie, on 25 March, “busłowe łapy” (“stork's paws”) were baked. They were yeast rolls similar in the shape to the four-claw stork’s paw. It had to do with the belief that the last storks should return by this day. In folk dialect "busioł" means stork. People believed that by inserting “busłowe łapy” into the stork’s nest, they will lure the bird into the nest located on their property, and thus happiness and prosperity will not abandon them throughout the year. This tradition, like many others, have almost completely disappeared in the project implementation areas and to cultivate it, we scheduled 20 meetings with residents in order to bake “busłowe łapy” together.
The first “busłowe łapy” are already behind us. On 25 March we met with residents of Mielnik commune, who came in great numbers to the Commune Culture, Sport and Recreation Center. The workshop was divided into two parts. In the first part we learned the recipe and made yeast dough. In the second one we baked the elaborately prepared stork's paws. There were also harrows, sickles, brioches and even ducks on the baking trays. Of course, children had most fun with the baking, but adults matched their enthusiasm. During a break we invited the participants to watch the film entitled “The land of 1000 storks” realized under the previous project of protection of the white stork. The project gadgets, T-shirts and mugs were very popular. We would like to thank the ladies from the Commune Culture, Sport and Recreation Center for their help, Ms. Halina, who lovingly talked about the tradition of baking “busłowe łapy”, and all the participants for a few hours of joyfully working together.

 

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ogolWhen writing the project for the protection of the white stork for the LIFE fund, we decided that an extremely important action that needs to be included in its framework, is training a wide group of stakeholders, consisting of employees of local governments, energy companies, veterinarians, members of volunteer fire brigades, ornithologists, i.e. people who in their work encounter problems connected with this species every day. In order for the knowledge gained at these meetings not to be forgotten, and that it could also reach a wider audience, we made a decision that it should be perpetuated, and the best solution for this is to create a handbook containing all the most important issues. Imagine our surprise when it turned out that such a study already exists! It was created in 2012 by our friends from the Wildlife Society "Stork". Then, why reinvent the wheel. We asked them if it were possible to complete and reprint the study, as it seemed to us the most appropriate and natural solution. We obtained consent, for which we are extremely grateful and we would like to extend our thanks to them.

The handbook, available on the project website in the tab PUBLICATIONS, is a well-written compendium of knowledge, created by experienced specialists: ornithologists, officials and veterinarians, who often combine these professions. This guarantees that the presented topics are widely analysed and contain a set of best practices. Here, you will find everything that thus far required painstaking research in literature, the Internet, or the need to reach a specialist in a given field - from the construction of a nesting platform, through helping the injured and sick birds, legal issues, to wintering storks.

Enjoy

The LIFE project team

The Polish Society for Bird Protection

In 2016 we started an inventory of white stork nests built by the birds on the roofs of residential and farm buildings on properties where the owners wanted to move the nest from the roof to the pole and on old standalone poles, which might collapse. This year the first batch of nests has been moved onto new concrete poles. To increase the likelihood that the replacement will be accepted by storks, some material from the old nest was placed on the platform. Due to the process of moving the material, niches occupied by sparrows and tree sparrows were also destroyed, and we offer them new nesting spaces - wooden nesting boxes attached to the pole directly below the platform.

The first nests are moved in Natura 2000 areas in river valleys of: Bug, Narew, Biebrza and Omulew. When commissioning the executed works, I was able to admire the huge overflow area of the Omulew river, frozen at this time of year. I hope that I will have the opportunity to see the same area in the spring. The photos show the procedure of mounting the posts.

The task has been carried out within the framework of the project entitled: “Protection of the white stork in river valleys of eastern Poland", LIFEciconiaPL, no. LIFE15 NAT/PL/000728. The project is implemented by the Polish Society for Bird Protection, together with Biebrza National Park and Łomża Landscape Park of the Narew Valley. The project is co-financed by the European Union under the LIFE program and by the German foundation Vogelschutz-Komitee e.V

Gabriela Kułakowska

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