Three black storks 'backpacked' in Siberia to be monitored

Expedition to Siberia, photo: CTK

Since 1995, Miroslav Bobek, his colleague Frantisek Pojar and several other Czech naturalists have been carrying out projects of tracing storks and mapping out routes they fly to find a suitable place to spend the winter. Their journeys can be followed on the Czech Radio website, where some time ago one could also see storks nesting and feeding their young. Last month, the Czech expedition spent three weeks searching for storks in the remote parts of Russia. Alena Skodova has the details:

Expedition to Siberia,  photo: CTK
The first project was carried out in Africa, and it traced white storks, migrating between Europe and the African continent. In July this year, the Czech environmentalists decided to go to Siberia to mark black storks, and with the help of satellite transmitters attached to the storks' backs, follow the routes used by the birds when flying to other parts of the world to spend the winter there.

The Czech expedition was working at several places in Siberia - some 500 kilometres from the town of Krasnoyarsk - with the goal of marking three black storks using satellite and terrestrial transmitters. The expedition consisted of five members of the Czech team and the same number of Russian zoologists and guides.

Miroslav Bobek says in order to find the storks they had to explore an immensely large area:

"The red points on the map are places through which we passed, and as my colleague Frantisek Pojar calculated, we were searching for the storks in an East-West direction on an area of land as long as from the city of Hamburg in Germany to the Polish capital of Warsaw, and in the North-South direction as from Stockholm to Prague. So you see, our task was not an easy one."

The expedition travelled in the region for some time, but within the first few days there was not a single trace of black stork. They succeeded in catching the first one near the town of Tuvinsk, after they got a message on a satellite phone from another expedition member, that he had found a nest with young. They caught a male stork, gave him the name Peter and let him fly away with a 'backpack'- a solar satellite transmitter attached to his back. The same day, some 10 kilometres away, the Russian guide found another nest, and another black stork, named Roman, was equipped with the backpack.

The Czech expedition's planned departure was delayed, because on that very day they were lucky enough to find a third stork, a female at last, whom they gave the name Catherine. Peter, Roman and Catherine are the name of Russian czars of the Romanov family.

As Miroslav Bobek says, the bulk of the work has been done, what remains now is to monitor the three marked storks:

"In the Suzun region near the great Siberian river of Ob, there are now three black storks flying, and we are waiting for their departure. They might depart in August, or in September at the latest. Naturally we are very curious what they will do, which direction they will take, how they will fly over the Himalayas and where they will spend the winter. You can see the map of Asia with a lot of question-marks, and we hope that we'll be able to find out concrete spots, where our three storks from Russia will be spending the winter."