Storks visit Jelsa!

On September 17th 2017, two storks touched down in Jelsa.

Storks in Jelsa, September 2017. Storks in Jelsa, September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Their arrival sparked a flurry of interest, also positive action to ensure that their stay would be safe and comfortable. They were first found wandering along the road leading to the local school, not the safest place to be. A kind man passing by on his moped persuaded them into a nearby piece of land, which is privately owned. It is used by many as an unofficial subsidiary to Jelsa's official car park, but at least in the evening there is little activity there.

Photo call for Jelsa's storks. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The next morning, Jelsa's eco-warriors swung into action. They contacted the 'Grifon' bird protection society in Rijeka, and received advice on appropriate food and treatment for the birds. They were told that it was likely that the birds had been deflected from their migratory path by the extreme bad weather, as hail stones the size of golf balls had fallen on Split on the day they came down. It was possible that one or both might be injured. They were certainly very shocked and disorientated, and visibly trembling at first.

Preening. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

They spent their first night on the roof of a house nearby, and then returned to the 'spare car park' in the morning. Fresh water was supplied in a bucket in the centre of the space, which they drank, and a supply of fish was organized, which they ate with relish. As the area is crossed by many of the children on their way to and from school, teacher Daniela Lučić read the children a special message explaining why the storks were there, and urging the children not to frighten them, but to watch and enjoy them from a distance.

Children were fascinated. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The storks were not nervous of humans. When Daniela's sister Debora Bunčuga, Eco Hvar's Secretary, approached them to place their food and water, they moved towards her with confidence and trust. Debora and her husband Luka prepared posters which were placed on barriers marking the area where the storks had settled.

The posters were also distributed around the town, to try to minimize the risk of people disturbing the birds unnecessarily.  The children were generally well behaved and respectful towards their unexpected guests. One boy made to throw a stone at them, but he was quickly sent away.

Stork threatened by careless van driver. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

While most drivers avoided driving through the central area containing the storks, one van driver insisted on driving past very close to them. As he went, he declared (very rudely) that they would / should move out of the way. They did, just in time, but one was very close to being run over.

Exploring the environment. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

So the day passed, with the storks looking increasingly at ease in their surroundings. They wandered around a little, disdainfully ignoring the (shameful) rubbish lining their territory. They seemed quite at ease with the numbers of visitors coming by to catch sight of them. They eyed their visitors without fear, and stood tall and proud.

Standing tall. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

In the evening, they returned to their roof, a fine sight against the darkening sky. We hope they will gather strength to continue on their journey speedily, but, if not, there is a contingency plan to help them.

Back on their roof for the night. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

What happened next?

In the event, the storks were in no hurry to leave. They settled in happily to a cosy routine of fresh fish several times a day, interspersed with exploring Jelsa's further reaches, and posing for photographs. Far from being unnerved by the constant stream of admiring onlookers, they seemed to relish the attention.

Toddler introduced to Jelsa's famous visitors. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

They were glad to show off their balletic poses together with their admirable hygienic practices.

Contortionistic cleansing, 20th September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

If anyone came by carrying shopping bags, both storks would move swiftly and gracefully forward in the hope of yet more culinary treats from their human well-wishers. However, the luxury of being served regular meals did not dampen their foraging instincts. They found a wonderful resource of insects when the rain fell and created large puddles on their previously arid terrain.

Walking on water, 21st September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It seems that vehicle tyres provide a specially rich source of edible insects. The storks did a very thorough job of gleaning tasty morsels of tiny insects from the rubber crevices. Who needs poisonous insecticides when Nature provides such a beautiful and efficient alternative?

Insect feast from a lorry tyre, 22nd September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono.

The local school's pupils were treated to a special learning experience, which they will be able to share with future generations. It is not the first time storks have landed in Jelsa on their migratory route south. One young woman told me that she had seen one or two at intervals during her childhood. They would stay for a couple of days, then fly onwards. Perhaps they were the forebears of these unexpected visitors? Perhaps they gave Jelsa a warm recommendation in the Storks' Travel Guide to Migration Routes?

School pupils welcome the storks in a special project. (Facebook post by Daniela Lučić)

Whenever the sun came out, the storks were a specially beautiful sight, perfectly captured by Jelsa's Deputy Mayor, Vlatka Buj.

Storks in Jelsa. (Facebook post by Vlatka Buj, 23rd September 2017)

After a week, the storks showed no signs of moving on, so contingency plans were made to ensure their continuing safety. Money was to be raised for their food supply, and the Hvar Rotary Club intended to make a special collection for the storks during their annual 'Bicklijada' (Cycling Festival) on September 30th. However, all of sudden on September 28th, the storks upped stocks and were gone. Maybe, just maybe, they saw that the insect spraying which took place around Jelsa during the night of September 27th was going to contaminate their supply of insect food? Whatever the reason, they headed south, where they opted for another stopover in Vela Luka on Korčula. They arrived in much better shape than when they landed shivering and trembling in Jelsa after battling a fierce storm. Their arrival pleased the Vela Lukans as much as it did the Jelsans. Will the hospitality on Korčula match that on Hvar for dedication? We hope so.

Storks in Vela Luka, reported in Slobodna Dalmacija, 29th September 2017

We are confident that all the Dalmatian islands visited by these discerning avian visitors will be as welcoming and enchanting to them as they are to the thousands of humans who spend their holdays here year after year. Just maybe, Jelsa will take top spot in the 2017 Stork Tourism Charts for the special efforts made by Daniela, Debora, Luka and their dedicated team of helpers who set these beautiful birds happilyand safely on their way to their summer quarters in the southern hemisphere.

© Vivian Grisogono 2017
You are here: Home Nature Watch Storks visit Jelsa!

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Activists spend seven days occupying BP rig in Cromarty Firth, leading to 14 arrests

    Greenpeace has ended its protest against BP drilling for oil in the North Sea by handing in “people’s climate injunctions” at the company’s headquarters.

    Greenpeace protesters spent nearly seven days occupying an oil rig rented by BP in the Cromarty Firth in northern Scotland last week, leading to the arrests of 14 activists, including three photographers hired by the pressure group.

    Continue reading...

  • Concern grow over ammonia particles from fertiliser and bioaerosol from intensive farms

    We think of the countryside as being a place of fresh air. Each weekend thousands of us leave our cities to hike or cycle in rural areas or simply to enjoy time in nature. Increasing attention is being given, however, to air pollution from farming. Ammonia from fertiliser and slurry mixes with air pollution from cities, traffic and industry to add to the particle pollution that plagues many parts of the world. It is estimated that halving ammonia from farming could avoid about 52,000 premature deaths from air pollution across Europe each year and 3,000 in the UK.

    Increasing attention is also being paid to bioaerosol from intensive farming. In animal houses these are tiny particles and dust from the animals themselves, their food, bedding and waste. They can also include fungi, bacteria and pollen. A recent review by Imperial College and Public Health England found evidence of respiratory problems in farm workers and raised concerns about exposure for people living close to intensive livestock farms, including some evidence of increased asthma in children. Bioaerosol concerns mean that composting facilities need to be at least 250 metres from UK homes and schools, but farms can be nearer and only require assessment if they are closer than 100 metres.

    Continue reading...

  • Event will take place on 22 September across 18 boroughs, with road closures and events

    Sadiq Khan has announced plans to implement London’s biggest car-free day to date, closing 12.3 miles (20km) of roads in the centre of the capital in September.

    Roads will be closed for the event around London Bridge, Tower Bridge and much of the City of London to help tackle the capital’s air pollution crisis, which kills thousands of people each year and leaves two million – including 400,000 children – living in areas with illegally dirty air.

    Continue reading...

  • MELTDOWN – a visualisation of climate change has opened at Natural History Museum of Vienna. Created by the climate crisis charity Project Pressure, the exhibition on vanishing glaciers uses art to inspire action and behavioural change. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, the retreat of the world’s glaciers can be attributed to global warming. To incite action, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator in collaboration with ClimateHero to learn how carbon-intense the users’ lifestyle is.

    Continue reading...

  • MPs launch assembly plan but environmental activists say its conclusions must be binding

    A citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency will take place this autumn to explore the fastest and fairest ways to end the UK’s carbon emissions.

    Six House of Commons select committees announced the assembly on Thursday. It is the second of the three demands made by the Extinction Rebellion protest group to be addressed.

    Continue reading...

  • There are only about 30 north Pacific right whales left after hunters nearly wiped out the slow-moving animals

    Marine biologists for the first time have recorded singing by one of the rarest whales on the planet, the north Pacific right whale.

    Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used moored acoustic recorders to capture repeated patterns of calls made by male north Pacific right whales.

    Continue reading...

  • Ice losses indicate ‘devastating’ future for region and 1 billion people who depend on it for water

    The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water.

    The scientists combined declassified US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite data to create the first detailed, four-decade record of ice along the 2,000km (1,200-mile) mountain chain.

    Continue reading...

  • Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic refuse to sign up to text that activists already viewed as too vague

    A trio of central European countries have blocked the European Union from inching closer to a net-zero carbon emissions target for 2050.

    European leaders meeting in Brussels sparred over the EU’s role in tackling the unfolding climate emergency, which threatens to significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, poverty and destruction of wildlife around the world.

    Continue reading...

  • Mass migration back to UK waylaid by stormy conditions and lack of nesting places

    The number of swifts that returned to Britain from their wintering grounds in Africa this spring was the lowest since records began, with poor weather in the Mediterranean delaying their arrival by two weeks. Experts fear the recent wet weather will further hit their numbers. Swift numbers in Britain have fallen by more than 50% since 1995.

    More than 100 walks, talks and visits to urban areas to witness the swift’s aerial “screaming parties” will be held this week to raise awareness of the plight of this unique migratory bird.

    Continue reading...

  • Shell, BP and Centrica have talked of backing EU emissions target but withheld support

    The UK’s largest energy companies have withheld support for a legally binding target to reduce the EU’s emissions to net zero by 2050, even while publicly backing the plans.

    Royal Dutch Shell, BP and British Gas’s owner, Centrica, have all publicly thrown their weight behind more ambitious EU emissions cuts, but none supported the Brussels proposals for a tougher target in an official consultation.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds