On the island (Sunday, 7 July 2002)

2. červenec 2002

First we drove in car and then sailed in a boat belonging to the Ministry for Special Events to reach the island of Gornyi on Friday. The island lies in a wasteland at the right bank of the river Yenisei, more than 300 kilometres from Krasnoyarsk as the crow flies. This is the island where Russian ornithologists said we should find a black stork nest.

Gornyi is some two and a half kilometre long and one kilometre wide. We are sharing it with two herdsmen, two fishermen (read: poachers), a herd of cattle and a herd of horses. The herdsmen ferry their cattle to the island in May and stay until September. They do not get any wages, only benefits in kind, yet it is a welcome income for them for they cannot find another job. Besides that, they together with the other two inhabitants go fishing illegally. So far, they went fishing for sturgeons every night in two motorboats.

The island has a sandy shore with scattered grass, then there is an impenetrable barrier of bushes and trees, and the centre of the island is infested hogweed thicket. The nest used to rest on a broken tree near the middle of the island. Ornithologist Andrej Bajkalov told us there is a new stork nest on the island but we can safely rule that out. We have searched the island thoroughly and now we are trying to find out where the storks fly. That's the only good news: there are black storks here - we saw four of them at one moment. But it is virtually impossible to find a nest in the mainland taiga. We could try to catch the storks when they feed in a shoal near the island. Not simple either...

In fact, nothing is simple over here. Myriads of gnats won't let you rest for a second. Although it is quite hot, we are wearing jackets, hats with nets, and gloves. The same moment I took off my gloves to call the radio, fourteen gnats were sucking on my hand...

Looking for storks in Siberia
autor: Miroslav Bobek
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