I am a regular visitor to Sebes Nature Reserve at Flix so over the last few years I’ve got to know some of the staff there. Last June I had asked one of the wardens there to let me know when the bird-ringers were going to be ringing the storks. I received a text a few days later telling me that the ringers were there so I jumped into the car and headed up to the reserve.
I’d expected that they would bring the young storks from the nest somehow but when I got there I realised that they went up to the storks in a cherry picker and did the ringing, weighing and measuring actually at the nest. I was surprised to see that the parent birds just flew away from the nest as they approached it. Good thing too, I thought, I wouldn’t fancy being on the receiving end of an angry Storks beak! However, there was a primary school class watching too, and one of the scientists – who was taking swabs from the Storks for bacterial analysis – gave a little talk to the kids and then decided to bring the last pair of chicks down to ground level for everyone to see. Off they went in the cherry picker and brought down two chicks wrapped in towels. They were incredibly docile as they had their rings put on and were measured and swabbed. The children watched fascinated (and so did I! ) and it was good to see that the reserve had used the ringing as an educational opportunity.
When it was all finished the birds had to be returned to the nest. This was when my day got really exciting! The reserve manager asked me if I would like to go up in the cherry picker with the ringers to return the birds to the nest! Yes please!!
I clambered into the bucket and it began to rise. As we approached the nest the parent birds flew away as before. The nest, that looks big enough from the ground, was just huge close up! We unwrapped the chicks and laid them on the nest.
From here we could look across to several of the other nests, where other parent birds and chicks were keeping a stern eye on us. Oh my, what a treat to see into the nests from this vantage point! Just wonderful! Then one of the ringers asked if I would like to go higher to get a panoramic view over the reserve. I nodded but inside I was thinking “no, we’re high enough!” Too late, he called down to the operator and the cherry picker began to extend to it’s maximum height of 32 metres. I have to admit, standing in a bucket suspended 100 ft in the air- my knees began to wobble! But, it was fabulous to have such a view over the reserve and the river, and, making a determined effort to be calm I got out my camera and took a few shots. What a morning to remember!