NOT LONG since the first swallow arrived here, the first white storks have started circling above Slovakia. These elegant birds are considered the most famous harbingers of spring in Slovakia. The very first ones appeared in mid March near Malá Domaša (in the Vranov nad Topľou District), the SITA newswire wrote.
"The storks were observed on their nest," Miroslav Fulín, an expert on white storks, said on March 15. "In the following days, we can expect numerous observations of this popular harbinger of spring at its nesting sites."
The white stork is one of the most well-known and well-loved birds in Slovakia. From the second half of March until May, about 2,500 white storks arrive in Slovakia to raise their young in 1,200 nests. Some storks fly over ten thousand kilometres to get here. They complete the route between Slovakia and South Africa in 20-40 days of flying and 7-14 days of rest.
Birdwatchers observed the first swallow in Slovakia on March 12 near the village of Dolné Dubové, in the foothills of the Small Carpathians.
"I spotted the first swallow this year near the water tank in Dolné Dubové, where it flew about four metres high, so I had no trouble recognising it immediately," said nature enthusiast Marián Buček, who immediately reported his finding to ornithologists.
Recording the first sightings of spring is a popular pastime among birdwatchers. They can now share their observations with people across Europe through the Spring Alive project, which records and evaluates the first sightings of four harbingers of spring: the stork, swallow, cuckoo and swift. More information on the project can be found at www.springalive.net.
31. Mar 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports