White storks are allegedly currently nesting at a nature reserve in Virelles (Chimay) in Hainaut, reports the environmental organisation Natagora on Friday. If the nesting is indeed confirmed, this would be a first in Wallonia since 2007. A couple of white storks have been seen at the Aquascope site in Virelles since mid-April. Amorous courting rituals and mating were observed for a fortnight, and the female has been “lying in her nest” since May 1st.
“This nesting is an exceptional event in Wallonia as the species stopped nesting in the wild in 2007, according to Natagora scientists,” highlights the association in a press release. “The last time the phenomenon was recorded in this region was approximately 10 years ago, in the Liege province, from 2001 to 2007. We have not been able to confirm any reproduction taking place in Wallonia since, although we do see a very small number of storks every summer,” they add. The nesting could be the offshoot of a small colony of white nesting storks established in the north of France, approximately 30 kilometres from Virelles. “Close monitoring of the 2 partners allowed us to read the male’s numbered band, which showed he may hail from Germany.” The couple of white storks settled in an artificial site established very recently in Virelles to attract ospreys, explain Natagora.
The nature reserve around the Virelles pond is particularly popular with birds; as many as 200 different species can be observed every year, including over 110 nesting species. The white stork (ciconia ciconia) is observed in Wallonia during migration. It nests only occasionally in Belgium. It is a very tall wader with white feathers and a red beak and legs, quite bold, and usually builds its enormous nest at the top of very tall supporting electric pylons or chimneys.