Friday, 11 January 2013

The Black Stork.

Ciconia nigra
Black Stork. Copyright Oliveira Pires.

When I applied for a job as a car parts delivery driver and was eventually successful in getting the job, I had no idea I was about to become the luckiest birder in the UK. The job took me into areas covering many miles, south to Preston, to Blackpool in the west, Hellifield in the east, and Kendal in the north. As you can imagine the job - though very demanding - took me through prime birding country all points on the map, and quite periods over the years had me spending many hours birding and getting to know the birds on a daily basis and was the means whereby I first discovered the upturn in the status of the Stonechat in 1999 when I noticed them seen with more and more regularity on Newby Moor near Clapham, an area which was to become a stronghold for the species and where I found twelve birds on a cold winters day in November 2000, not anymore....But the rest of this 'car parts delivery' story I'll leave for another time.

Black Stork. Copyright Bury Antoine.

My day at work on 24 April 1995 was going to be one to remember and I'll always recall being on a road to be honest I really shouldn't have been on, more to the point I was supposed to be back at base loading up for my next run. But wait a minute....this large bird in the air flying parallel to the road I'm driving along and about to duck below all powerful electric cables suspended from pylons, is unmistakable as being a Black Stork (BS) and I saw it precisely as the bird looks in the photograph above. The only disappointment is that I can't linger here very long at the peril of loosing my job, but I'm on the phone now to get the news out about this excellent find.

It transpired that a farmer had seen this bird in one of his fields the day before my sighting and described it as looking like 'an Oystercatcher on steroids'....well that might have seemed funny to him, but right now this was a serious and exciting business to me. The bird flew on and up the Quernmore Valley and a second hand rumour had it that it was seen on the Lune floodplain later that day. The following day - April 25 - a BS was seen in Ennerdale in Cumbria and was thought to have been the same bird, another day later - April 26 - a BS was reported in the Bolton Abbey area and was presumed to be the same Quernmore/Ennerdale bird once again. Two months later there was another report of a BS flying east over the south of Lancaster on 30 June but no description or documentation was forthcoming on this one and so was lost to history.

The BS has been recorded in the UK something like 150 times since the first record of one seen in Somerset in May 1814. Most of the records in the UK are of birds seen April-September generally in the south and east, many of these birds have remained for only one day, but some stay longer or wander around the country, the best example of which was an individual seen in Aberdeenshire, Northhumberland, and Suffolk between July and September 1998. 



Warren Baker said...

I was also lucky enough to have a Black Stork flyover my patch Pete :-) No camera in those days though!

Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. Great memories there !!...I was once lucky enough to see a white stork alongside the M6 in Cumbria early one morning.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Great shots!!!. I love Black stork.. Regards!!!

Mrs Bear said...

My husband and I saw what we believe to have been a Black Stork yesterday evening on the River Lune at Lancaster adjacent to the columns of Greyhound Bridge. It remained in one spot for some length of time and seemed to be ceaslessly preening itself and enjoying the evening sunlight. We checked out illustrations of storks and came to the conclusion that our identification was correct in the light of the above-mentioned recent sightings in the area. There was also a heron on the river at the time, as there usually is, but this was much larger and less elegant (it had a kind of crouching posture). It was more exciting because we had never seen one before.