Family of storks becomes internet stars in Portugal

By CHRIS GRAEME chris.graeme@algarveresident.com

A family of storks nesting atop a high tension electricity pylon at Lezíria in the Ribatejo have become the unlikely stars of a reality internet show.

The two storks and their precious egg are being filmed 24 hours a day until the hatchling, already named Renata, emerges at some time in April.

As of last week, the nest is being filmed live on the site Webcegonhas – Condoninho da Renata, a new site associated with newspaper site PÚBLICOOnline.

“The project is part of a broadband initiative to transmit a video 24 hours a day in high definition,” said Pedro Veiga, Director of the National Scientific Computation Foundation (FCCN).

The Foundation has joined forces with electricity distribution network company REN (Rede Energética Nacional) which is developing a stork conservation project.

“We are protecting 1,700 ‘condoninhos’ (a mixture of the word condominium and the Portuguese word for nest ‘ninho’) which have been built atop electricity pylons,” said Artur Lourenço, a REN engineer.

The nest is in the middle of green wetlands with the River Tejo in full view while the camera has been positioned right in front of the nest at a height of 32 metres.

According to biologist Teresa Marques, one of those involved with the scientific project, the successful future of the hatchling will depend on good weather and abundant food.

On average, the white stork lays five eggs from which, in a good year, three hatch and may survive, although in bad weather there are cases when all hatchlings die.

The project site, which is also being aimed at schools, will have updated scientific and general reports to go with the video transmissions.

“People love nature documentaries about animals that are far away from us in other countries, but here is a documentary right on our doorstep,” said Teresa Marques who added that, if all goes well, the two parents and the chick will migrate and spend the winter in Africa. Only one question over the name Renata: what happens if the hatchling is a male?  René perhaps?

See all the action live at http://static.publico.clix.pt/cegonhasnaweb/projecto.html