Swarms of hundreds of storks observed in Languedoc: is this phenomenon normal?

These last days of August, the Héraultais are surprised by the abundance of storks in the region, which sometimes move in swarms of several hundred individuals. Their concentration depends on the weather conditions during the migration, explains the LPO.

At the end of the day on August 25, Sophie witnessed a “touching spectacle“. This resident of Nézignan-l’Évêque (Hérault) was amazed to see nearly 300 storks perched on the peaks of her village.

They were everywhere: on the houses, the church, the trees. I had never seen so many gathered in one place.rejoices this retiree from Nezignan. They stayed the night. I found a group of six or seven storks near my window when I woke up. They were the last to leave, shortly before 11 a.m.“Significant concentrations of these migratory birds have also been reported in the Montpellier conurbation.

video length: 10sec

Video stork migration Montpellier Hérault 260822

©Sophie Maserati

This is a completely normal phenomenon for this end of summer. We observe important passages of migratory birds throughout the Mediterranean arc in spring for the pre-nuptial period and from August to October for the post-nuptial period, reassures Bruno Veillet, territorial director of Aude for the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO) of Occitanie. Stork populations migrate to North Africa or Spain between August and September, with more or less long migratory breaks.

The weather conditions greatly influence the flight route of the storks. “The power and the direction of the wind are extremely important in the migration of birds: they determine the duration of their stay, their height of flight – they are then less easily observable, adds Bruno Veillet. At Gruissan, for example, we make our observations when a north-westerly wind blows, because it creates a migratory corridor above our station.” On August 24, he counted the passage of 2,000 birds in one day.

In recent days, the conditions have been met to observe these very important passages, which can range from a few individuals to nearly a thousand, with long pauses. Storks were an endangered species but they are doing better, people are not necessarily used to seeing so many at once.

Bruno Veillet

Director for Aude of the LPO Occitanie

Until recently, Languedoc was no longer a land of storks. The campaign to reintroduce these birds some fifty years ago, in France and particularly in Alsace, led to the emergence of sedentary individuals, whose aviary breeding broke their migratory instinct.

A part has settled here and no longer migrates, a part migrates to Spain because the climate is favorable there, and finally a large part goes to North Africa, summarizes Bruno Veillet, before confiding: “IBirds limiting crossings over the sea as much as possible, the Strait of Gibraltar is a hotspot from the observation of storks, one can observe thousands and thousands of them during the migration period.”

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