We thought they wouldn't come........
The white stork ciconia ciconia, that beautiful soaring bird of myth and fable, one of our absolute favourite birds here at Amohela ho Spitskop, and we await their arrival from Europe each year with excitement and anticipation. However a prolonged drought with very little rainfall here in the Eastern Free State seemed that, for the first time in many years, we would not be visited by any White Storks this year when they began their South Africa pilgrimage in December..January....and we were sad sad sad......
Yesterday morning however we were delighted to find 74 White Storks accompanied by 5 Abdims Storks here at Amohela ho Spitskop Country Retreat and Conservancy, where, thanks to some recent drought-breaking rain, our neighbour had just begun tilling ready for planting animal feed. AND THAT is when those wonderful storks, following their amazing 6th sense intuition suddenly appeared. Their return journey home to Europe has begun and they stayed with us for a while busy feeding and resting in readiness for their 11000 km journey back to their breeding grounds and the northern hemisphere summer weather, a journey that will take about 7 weeks.
Today tilling is continuing and there are many storks feeding, also in lands where wheat has been reaped, awesome to see them in good numbers, well over 160 birds in one of the lands.
Fearless in front of the tractors wheels they quickly seize upon any food morsel as it appears from the newly tilled soil until it seems they will be run over, but in the blink of an eye....they lift off and escape the danger then return to the business at hand and follow the plough.
A strange travelling companion indeed .....the Abdims Stork ( Ciconia abdimii)
This small stork hails from Western and Eastern Africa and joins the southbound White Stork migration in Ethiopia and Sudan and when in South Africa they are often seen together...sometimes in large numbers.
Then in the manner of White Storks, one moment they are there and then...... they just as suddenly lift off and rising high on the thermals ...disappear.! Our hearts soar with them.
Bon voyage Ciconia ciconia / Ciconia abdimii, fly high, fly safe, to nesting grounds and home.