There are about 180,000 pairs of white storks in Europe. Lithuania has about 13,000 breeding pairs and one of the highest concentrations of white storks in Europe. These large migratory birds summer in Europe and winter in Africa, then return to Europe in early spring for breeding.
As soon as we hit the stretch of road in farmland outside Kaunas during the 2hr 45 min bus ride to Klaipeda, I mentioned to Kelley how this area is where I saw several white stork nests last year in April 2017. I pointed out a large nest by a farmhouse. Within 2 minutes Kelley sighted storks in a field. A couple minutes later she sighted storks standing tall in their nest near another farm house.
In the 2 hours we drove through countryside and forests we spotted around 30 storks. Wizzing along the highway at 60 miles per hour meant limited photo opportunities between the time we spotted nests and storks for focusing my camera zoom and snapping a photo. Invariably, I was too slow or on the wrong side of the bus for the best sightings as I moved back and forth on the bus seeking photo ops.
Unfortunately, I never spotted a stork over the past five days in Lithuania when I was stationary. The best images of storks in flight over rivers and standing tall in nests were only captured in mental imagery.
White storks are large birds with white bodies and black wings measuring around 6 to 7 feet across for mature birds.
White storks are considered good luck to many cultures and generally peaceful interaction with humans means they commonly nest around farms and people. There are around 22,000 stork nests in Lithuania.
The 200 km of land between Kaunas in central Lithuania and Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea coast is primarily rural farms and woodlands. It is a great place for stork spotting.
Today I travel by bus all the way across Lithuania to Vilnius. Looking forward to the bird watching ride and more photo opportunities.