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Storks, Mana Pools and “Where do babies come from?”

~ Zambezi Cruise and Safaris

Well – where do they come from?

I’m sure that if you ran a poll today, asking the question in the title, there would be many who would be unable to answer. When I was a youngster everyone knew perfectly well that they were brought by Storks. In Europe the Stork in question was the European White Stork – Ciconia ciconia. So named, mainly, for the fact that it is mostly White with Black wings. It also differentiates it from another, closely related European Stork, the Black Stork – Ciconia nigra. Although there are some small, scattered, non-migratory populations both species tend to migrate to Sub-Saharan Africa in the European winter season. We, very recently, had a flock of some 50 White Storks passing through here, at Pamuzinda Safari Lodge. No doubt on their way back to Europe in the hopes the weather would improve on what they seem to be having there at the moment.

Black Stork

A diverse menu.

Whilst I have never, personally, seen White Storks at Mana Pools I have, nevertheless, seen many other species. I’m sure there are a further many species there that I have not seen. Those that I have seen, however, I have usually been able to photograph at leisure. Yellow Billed, Saddle Billed, Woolly Necked, Marabou and Open Billed, to name but a few.

Saddle Billed Stork
Yellow Billed Stork
Wolly Necked Stork

It is also a haven for similar species such as Herons and Egrets, Ibis, Spoonbills and the like. All these species share a similar feeding regime as they are carnivorous. The diet is determined, in varying percentages, by personal preference and seasonal and locality based availabilities. It includes Crustaceans, small to large fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects and their larvae, small mammals and ground nesting birds, their eggs and nestlings.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6

Figure 1: Sacred Ibis

Figure 2: A very Macho Cattle Egret

Figure 3: African Spoonbill on the Lookout

Figure 4: Great White Egret with Frog

Figure 5: Great White Egret with small Beam

Figure 6: Great White Egret with a very large Bream

How to get that shot of a lifetime.

At Mana this is not as difficult as it is in some venues. The birds there at the better known Pools are relatively used to human presence. Not only that, different species can often be seen feeding peacefully side by side.

If you take the trouble to dress in sympathetically coloured clothing there are many places where you can lodge yourself near the waterside in a bush and just wait. Set your camera up for fast speed shooting, on a “continuous” setting if you have one. Fix your lens on a subject displaying feeding behaviour patterns and stick with it. It’s a game of patience. There is often quite a period of time between successful “strikes”. If one takes place, however, within camera range then “what a pleasure”. I have attached a couple of images below showing that it is well worth the wait

Yellow Billed Stork about to swallow turned round Frog.
Saddle Billed Stork attempting to turn a frog around head first

Brian Pettit.

wildlifepics@ntlworld.com

www.naturepicturesworldwide.com

Zambezi Cruise and Safaris.

www.zambezicruisesafaris.com

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