Text: Urmas Sellis, Triin Leetmaa
We can see the nest of Black storks in Karula National Park for the seventh season in a row. The old natural nest, with an interesting construction, collapsed partly by the spring of 2018. Thus, we built the artificial nest, which we now monitor with a camera, on the same site.
The Black storks nesting here for the first three years were named Karl and Kati, but in 2019 the male changed and in 2020 the female also changed. The new male was named Karl II as a sign of continuity, and the female from 2020 was called Kaia. Neither of them had rings, so we don't know their origin or exact age. In terms of appearance and behavior, Kaia had barely reached breeding age by 2020. This is probably the reason why breeding was unsuccessful that year. Kaia laid two eggs, but no chicks hatched. At the end of the summer, Karl II was trapped on a feeding stream, after which he got a white ring with the code 716C on his feet and a GPS transmitter on his back. In 2021 Karl II and Kaia raised three chicks, two of whom arrived in wintering grounds in Africa. Karl II spends his winters on the border river between the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This year he arrived from spring migration on April 8th. The migration routes of Black storks with transmitters are visible on the migration map.
The future of Estonian black storks is bleak. The population has been declining for a long time and according to the latest estimates, only 50-70 pairs of Black storks nest in Estonia. For several years, a large proportion of unpaired birds have been observed in the Estonian Black stork population and it is likely that there is a shortage of females. So far no clear reason for this is known as the proportion of both sexes among nestlings is approximately equal. Thus, it seems that the daughters disappear before breeding age or move elsewhere. In addition, high levels of mercury have been found in the blood of nesting birds, leading to changes in bird behavior, reduced fertility and a weakened immune system.
This year we use the AXIS P1455-LE camera at the nest. Therefore we’re able to meet the wishes of the friends and supporters of the Black stork to see what is happening in the nest at night. Black stork cameras don't need to be camouflaged. So far, we haven't noticed the camera disturbing nesting birds. On the contrary, adults have sometimes wanted to lift the camera into the nest like nest material that has fallen away. The camera is transmitted via mobile Internet. The image is transferred to the server of the Estonian Fund for Nature, where the video is being prepared and saved for YouTube streaming. The livestream is broadcasted through the Eagle Club YouTube channel. We recommend following the Kotkaklubi channel in case the link for the broadcast changes due to technical reasons. All other Estonian eagle and black stork nest cameras and a Capercaillie camera can also be found on the Eagle Club channel. The use of the stream from the nest elsewhere for non-commercial purposes is not prohibited, but please let us know if possible (send a message to urmas (ät) kotkas.ee)
Supporters are welcome to each camera, because some components have to be replaced every year. We do not have any project support for this. The Environmental Investment Center has supported the installation, dismantling and maintenance of cameras.
Black Stork Nest Camera Team and Supporters:
Eagle Club Estonia - camera installation and information sharing
Beta-Grupp - camera testing and setup, microphone construction, technical support
Looduskalender - camera forum
Estonian Fund for Nature - server
Karula National Park - nest protection
Environmental Investment Center - financial support for everyday activities
Many private donors - covering unexpected and expected hardware costs
Thousands of observers - who are the most important, because otherwise the camera would not make much sense!