Banchory birdwatchers were treated to a rare sight this week, after a white stork was spotted roosting on a car park light at the new Tesco store.
Harry Scott, of Aboyne, was one of several locals who turned out on Monday night and Tuesday morning to witness the large bird.
“I was alerted to the bird’s presence just before 10pm on Monday, when a friend sent a text message out on the local birdwatchers’ news system.
“Apparently, a local man, Martin Duncan, had reported it when he’d seen it after shopping at the store.
“Myself and several other local birdwatchers arrived at the store around 10.30pm where we found the bird quite settled on one of the car park lights. I took several photos of it before leaving.”
Mr Scott said white storks were fairly rare in Britain, where only around 20 individuals are seen in a good year.
“Up in Scotland, we’re lucky if four to five arrive each year and Aberdeenshire generally only gets one every two to three years.
“The quirky nature of this individual roosting on the car park light isn’t that uncommon in central Europe, where they tend to occur more often, but it’s not commonly seen in this country, as the bulk of birds are only found as a result of following ploughing tractors at this time of year.
“Several birds are held in captivity in the UK and are identified by rings on their legs.
“I was informed that the bird was still present on top of the lamppost at 7.30am on Tuesday and that it has a small metal ring on its left leg which might indicate that it maybe originates from a captive source.
“Saying that, there’s no way of telling whether that captive source was in the UK or abroad, or how long this bird has been free-flying.
“I’ve checked the local bird reports which document that up until the year 2000, there were just 12 records of genuinely wild free-flying white storks in the North-east Scotland recording area. Subsequently, there have now been an additional three records bringing us to 15 records in total since the first one turned up in 1837 at Lonmay, near Peterhead.
“Most white storks occur in the UK during April-June as that’s the time they migrate from their wintering grounds in Africa to their breeding areas in southern Europe, across to the Middle East.
“Since this bird appears not to be a genuinely free-flying individual, who knows how long it may stay in the area as it may, or may not, still have its inbuilt migratory instincts Nonetheless, it still provided a bit of late night excitement in Tesco car park!
The white stork is rarely sighted in Scotland, preferring the sunny climes of Europe and North Africa.