Time for this weeks species spotlight and it falls on:
White Storks are widespread, breeding in much of Europe, Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East and overwintering in Southern Africa & the Indian Subcontinent. They are becoming an increasing frequent visitor to the UK, with regular sightings every year, particularly around Norfolk & Suffolk. They prefer areas of open ground and wetlands and are currently listed as least concern.
With a wingspan in excess of 2 metres they are one of the largest birds that we keep. As with most storks and herons, White Storks are long legged – a great aid in wading into water looking for food, which is snatched with their long beak. The wild diet includes a range of prey, including fish, reptiles, insects, frogs and small birds and mammals
Males and females are identical except that male are slightly bigger. A bright red beak and legs are a stark contrast to the white plummage covering much of the bird. The wing tips are black. White Storks are the iconic image of a newborn baby being delivered and this is thought to have originated as their migration coincided with a time of high birth rate (40 weeks after Summer solstice)
White Storks are monogamous, pairing with only one bird every year, but do not pair for life. Pairs build a huge nest constructed of twigs and commonly in Europe on Chimneys and it is common to find many smaller species nesting within the structure. Courtship involves a series of beak ‘clacking’, with the heads through back.
On average 4 eggs are laid but up to 7 have been recorded. Incubation begins from the first egg so the eggs will hatch staggered. Incubation lasts for 33 days. If food is plentiful then the chicks will all be reared successfully but if not then the younger, smaller chicks may be fed to the older siblings
The chicks will fledge at around 9 weeks and bred at 4 years of age. The oldest known wild White Stork lived to 39 years of age
We currently have a pair of White Stork, housed on the canal behind the Ibis Aviary with the female Stanley Crane. The male is a proven breeder having reared several chicks here in the past but he is yet to breed with this female, who has been with us for 5 years now. There has been regular displaying and some nest building this year but no eggs so it may be time next year for a change of location within the park to see what that stimulates
In other news from the park…..
Its been egg week for the King Penguins with not one, not two but three eggs laid since the last blog. The eggs have been laid by Lily & Frank, Syd & Ollie (during Saturdays afternoon talk!) & Missy & Seth. All 3 eggs have been removed to encourage further egg laying and because it has been extremely hot this week. Incubation s 56 days so IF the eggs prove fertile, we are looking at early September
Humboldt penguins Karel & Poborsky have completed their moult, with Karel now in adult plummage
The Greater Flamingos have been displaying and showing signs of wanting to nest build
The Luzon Bleeding Heart Doves have a 3rd egg
Keepers removed the White Naped Crane & Rheas eggs as both sets were overdue and proved infertile
The final Kookaburra egg disappeared
A male Masked Plover had to be moved off show with a bad leg, when the closed aluminium ring fitted just after hatch was digging into his leg. This was successfully removed with no problems
The Crowned Plovers have 2 eggs
Wildlife seen this week includes a few Grass Snakes, both in the Nature Area and around the park. There are lots of butterflies around including a species of Fritillary (didn’t get a good enough view to determine which species) & a Marbled White was a first. Dragonflies are around in good numbers but again are too fast to identify properly.
The Kingfishers are becoming more active on site again so I’m assuming chicks are fledging some where nearby