Another perspective on Copenhagen and Istanbul (see my last post on the city summits)…
A white stork launches itself from its rooftop nest in Copenhagen as cold weather pushes in from the north. Ready to head south, the stork looks for the updraft of the first thermal to ride on its journey towards the Mediterranean.
Like most of the Northern European populations of white stork, it will skirt the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, fly over the Levant and the Sinai Peninsula, and then follow the Nile. A couple months later, the stork will arrive at its wintering grounds in Southern Africa.
2000 km (1250 miles) from Copenhagen the white stork encounters the Bosporus. Also known as the Istanbul Strait, the Bosporus connects the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea; it also separates Europe from Asia. Istanbul, a city of two continents and 19 million residents and a crossroads of cultures, sits astride the Bosporus.
For migrating birds unable to cross the Mediterranean, the Bosporus is a bottleneck. For birdwatchers, the Bosporus is one of the world’s great migration routes and a seasonal spectacle.
Riding on warm thermals, as many as 11,000 white storks have passed over Istanbul in a single day. According to Ben Hoare, in his book Animal Migration: “In all, about 350,000 white storks move through the Bosporus during the species’ month-long fall exodus…”
“White stork gone from Denmark”
According to a fact sheet from the U.S. National Zoo, white stork migrate 20,000 km (12,500 miles) from Denmark to South Africa.
The only problem is that during the last decade, the last breeding couple of white storks disappeared from Denmark. The white stork, once common across Denmark, is now extinct in the wild. The expansion of modern agriculture into small ponds and wetlands, once considered “marginal land,” has been the key factor.