Storks, Mana Pools and “Where do babies come from?”
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.
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.
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: 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
Zambezi Cruise and Safaris.