White Storks

Although the white stork is doing pretty well in Europe (but it’s part of a very small group doing well, many more are in dire straights) it has been absent from Britain since 1416. Moves are now afoot to get the white stork breeding in Britain again and we have been lucky enough to be included in this new white stork breeding programme. A group of storks were brought over from a rehabilitation centre in Poland and distributed to various centres around the UK. These storks have all been injured through collisions with power lines and many are wing amputees. It makes them a little ungainly on the ground but other than that they manage to cope very well.

Team Stork Ready to Release

We kept them in a holding pen through the worst of the weather and last week when it started to warm a little we took them down to Ricketts Mill and gave them their new home. The lakes, ponds and boggy bits encourage huge amounts of food for them but we are also buffer feeding them to reduce impact on the pen.

Finding Her Feet

On release they gave themselves a bit of a shake down, looked around and stomped off as if they had been here all the time. Pete has built them some starter homes – platforms low enough for them to get up on to and build their nests. We will start to put a few sticks on the platforms in the coming days and hopefully they will join in. They probably won’t breed this year but you never know.

It’s truly rewarding to be involved in a project such as this and we hope to be able to contribute chicks towards the reestablishment programme when the storks breed.


Cold Weather

Here in West Wales we were late getting the snow and quick to lose it. No so good for sledging and making snowmen but it has been great for bird spotting. Over the past few weeks the farm has become a haven for many species we see either rarely or fleetingly. Redwings and fieldfares have been making their presence known in the fields and spinneys. The sound of the Fieldfare is truly one of winter. Starlings, whilst in decline, have been visiting in huge numbers. Neighboring dairy farms have streams of starlings in and out of their cattle sheds feeding on the crumbs of cake and blend left by the cows. This in itself can cause a problem with huge amounts of droppings left on the silage making it unpalatable for the cows. But the sight of a huge murmuration of starlings at dusk…well, who can fail to be stirred by the sight.

There have been good numbers of bullfinches too. They seem to like the long shelter belts along side the farm drives. That gorgeous pink breast brightens the dullest day. Lovely birds but look to your fruit buds when they are about!

The jewels of this chilly period are without doubt the goldcrests and the lapwings. There seems to be a goldcrest flitting around in every bramble patch and the sight of around 50 lapwings in amongst the ewes has me hoping that this species is holding its own.