Belozem – European Stork Village

Photo: wikipedia.org

The 8th edition of the White Stork Festival took place in the village of Belozem near Plovdiv end-May. The EuroNatur German environmental organization declared Belozem a European Stork Village, along with a place of that kind in each EU country. Every spot deserving this title is characterized by some peculiarity related to the stork population. In Belozem for instance, 2/3 of the storks nest on the roof of the local school. 20 out of a total of 36 stork nests can be spotted there. Anelia Pavlova from the Green Balkans Association tells RB more:

“During a census of white storks some 10 years ago we found out that a huge colony stayed on the roof of Belozem’s school. The students didn’t take care too much of the storks and even tortured them back then. However, things did change, when we helped them realize what wealth that was and what huge responsibility they faced. They kicked off a stork diary, following our advice. We have placed a camera inside one of the nests and the students can see online 24/7 what happens there. The diary registers the arrival of the first stork, the hatching of its first offspring etc. The kids participate in the festival of the white stork with figures they create. There are 19 nests on the roof this year, with at least 4 newly born storks in each of them. We think this is due to the large quantity of food that the storks can find around the area. The paddy fields have now been restored and the long-legged bird finds lots of food there.”

The White Stork Festival becomes more and more popular with time and now it even outruns the traditional fair. Students from the school enter the fest with different workshops, dedicated to storks – for instance, a culinary one, offering sandwiches with the figures of storks and frogs on them. Their dramatization this year, named We are Friends with Vitamins was curious too. The monitoring tower, installed by Green Balkans is one of the favorite attractions for the festival’s guests.

“We built up a wooden tower at the White Stork Park, only 50 m away from the school. One can watch with binoculars what happens in 4 of the nests from there. Kids and parents observe the feeding of the offspring with small frogs, lizards… It was also interesting to see how the old storks shadowed their brood, spreading their wings a bit and moving with the sun…”

Anelia Pavlova from Green Balkans was impressed by one more thing: “The kids from the school got so deep into the environmental cause that they created a farm for Californian worms in the schoolyard, using two big wooden boxes. They feed the worms with leftovers from the kitchen and those in their turn produce organic fertilizer. The children sold some of the fertilizer to the visitors of the festival. That is a really good idea for absorption of organic waste that is a problem for each settlement.”

Due to the European Village of White Stork rank, rice producers in the region have the right to put the logo with the white stork on their packages, showing that they’ve taken care of the birds’ feeding via their paddy fields.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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