Yesterday afternoon, ten White Storks, Cikonja Bajda in Maltese, were spotted by a Raptor Camp team flying over Comino, heading towards the mainland.
Later that day, they were reported to have reached Marsa, and were perched on a crane.
Jo B, one of our Raptor Camp volunteers was monitoring the storks throughout the evening. “My first sighting of White Storks has been incredible, particularly having seen them in an urban setting. But I felt a tinge of sadness, not knowing the level of danger they’re in. They’re such a majestic bird, I just hope they make it.”
9 of the birds proceeded to roost on the crane, whilst the whereabouts of the other was unknown.
We sent a team out to the location to carry out an overnight watch, with the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) helping to monitor the storks throughout the evening and night.
Whilst they were on the crane, local birdwatchers were able to get a closer look at they birds and discovered that 3 of the storks are ringed. The metal rings around the ankle of the bird provides data on where the bird has come from, allowing us to monitor the migration of the individual bird. The numbers on the rings indicated that the storks have arrived from Italy, having been ringed by the Bologna Ringing Scheme. We hope to soon receive more data on the history of the birds from our colleagues in Italy, allowing us to piece together the story of these birds.
This morning all 10 rejoined, unharmed and after a quick pit stop on St Vincent De Paul residence for the elderly, they took to the skies, gaining height but still visible.
With darkness now fallen, it is expected that the birds will stay until at least tomorrow. They are now roosting safely, but we are asking members of the public to keep an eye out for these rare, and enigmatic birds tomorrow. 3 protected bird species were shot down today alone, witnessed by CABS, so it is vital as many people as possible are looking out for their safety. With more eyes watching the sky, we can ensure they leave our island safely.
To report a sighting of the storks, please contact BirdLife Malta on 21347646.
Words by Holly Forsyth.
Photos by Nik Barbara and Nimrod Mifsud.
Selection of videos by camp participants, edited by Ella Beeson.