Flyingover

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The Biggest Surprise

Miroslav Bobek  Saturday, October 8, 2005, 20:30
Right four out of twenty observed storks remain in the South of Mauritania. In the picture from 1999 there is the expedition of African Odyssey to this area. - Autor:Khalil Baalbaki
Right four out of twenty observed storks remain in the South of Mauritania. In the picture from 1999 there is the expedition of African Odyssey to this area.
Autor:   Khalil Baalbaki  

Nineteen storks are already within the area of the wintering grounds southwards of Sahara. Four others are waiting in front of Gibraltar. And from the remaining four, one is flying through western Africa, another through Turkey, one is remaining in Bulgaria and one is not responding. It is clear just from this enumeration that many events have happened in the last week- flyovers from one continent to the other and to wintering grounds have been reached. I was greatly surprised by the Spanish stork Espartero. It doesn't make any difference that this surprise was prepared a week ago. 

Espartero set off for his journey to wintering grounds on 11th or 12th September and at first it didn't seem that his tracking could be interesting in any way. I expected that if he doesn't only fly to the area of Doňana National Park (i.e. South of Spain) he would undergo a journey about three thousand kilometres to Western Africa. Espartero acted according to this assumption during the first twelve days of his migration when he was flying to the south via Gibraltar, the Atlas range and Sahara. On the first day of the autumn, 23rd September he however turned towards the east and he was flying along the eastern border of the Sahara for another two weeks (until 6th October). So while during the first part flying south, he covered two and a half thousand kilometres, he moved 3150 kilometres to the east and reached Central Chad. Whilst the west-migrating storks reached as far as Benin in the eastern direction, but certainly not further... What fascinates me most about Espartero's journey, is the fact that in wintering grounds there is a certain division line - area where west-migrating storks meet east-migrating ones. I have already written about our Jakub, which flew to Nigeria via the eastern-migratory route. By looking at the map, we can see that Espartero is about two hundred kilometres from Varis (Latvia), which came via the eastern-migratory route. At least in central Chad storks, which started their flight in different parts of Europe, happened to meet.

The course of our (Czech) storks - Eliška and Dalibor is also interesting. They flew across the the Niger Inland Delta (very important wintering ground of migratory birds) and continued in their voyage. Eliška advanced to the east in Mali making only short flyovers in the last days. However Dalibor headed towards the south and stopped in the southeast of Burkina Faso, near the border with Benin, resp. Togo. No west-migrating Czech stork has ever been as far as that.


 

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