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A Great Brak River and Surrounds Community Newspaper

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 Published by Targa Publishing all rights reserved - 2016 No content of this website or Tabloid may be reproduced in any form without the consent of the owners. CONTACT DETAILS Advertising Sales    Mike 	   	  044 620 4042      									  sales @ greatbrakpost.co.za Editorial Content     Laurinda   	  082 738 8011       									  ed.gbp @ greatbrakpost.co.za Article & Proofing	   Marianne	  	  072 025 0153      									  articles @ greatbrakpost.co.za
By Sally Adam   Every year a few White Storks take up residence on our farm, usually arriving in late December and staying a couple of months. I fancy that the same birds return to our fields and it fascinates me to ponder what they have done and seen in the intervening months. Most definitely they have racked up more Air Mile points than have I. Northern hemisphere dwellers have always wondered where the birds migrate to in winter. The first piece of evidence that storks spend the winters in Africa was a spear that travelled back to Europe embedded in a stork almost 200 years ago. The White Stork is a popular species for studying bird migration - its size and popularity make it highly recognizable. It means different things to different cultures: we know it as the bringer of newborns, while in the Middle East it marks the beginning of the pilgrimage to Mecca, and it often brings good luck or is even seen as holy bird. From time to time I stumble across their pellets in the fields and inspect them to see what the birds have been feasting on. The stork is known to take a wide variety of food items, including insects, reptiles (I've seen a small group ripping a long snake apart), frogs and small rodents. Of course, only the indigestible bits will be regurgitated and the pellets are generally full of beetle wings, plant fibre and the odd bit of bone. Flocks of thousands of birds have been recorded during migrations and at locust irruptions but here they generally occur in smaller groups. Sometimes a flock of several hundred will settle in our field amongst the sheep, confusing the poor woollies who can no longer see their compatriots. This backfired on at least one bird, who lost its life to the caracal who was stalking sheep one late afternoon - the cat obviously couldn't resist the opportunity and bumped off the stork with a single bite to the neck before making off with a newborn lamb.  

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