Storks of Schierstein
At early dawn of a pleasant spring day, moments to sunrise, I put my camera backpack in the car and set out for Rhine, hoping to see the storks at the port of Schierstein. Knowing that there would be long walks ahead, I picked the lightest gear; I didn’t even carry a tripod. I reached the river on the brink of dawn when the morning light cast on water joined a breeze and made a marvel of a spring day and frogs sang to break the silence. I knew I had to walk a while before I reached the end of my path, yet my experiences in nature told me to be aware of the next encounter and ready with my camera.
I walked along the river after I had drunk my flask-tea. As my steps rang the reed, I could hear coots cry and calm again. The sun had already cast a golden spell on the water and little did it care for my presence as its rays grew to burn. And there it was, a playful moorhen enjoying its light shower as it stretched its body and wings. I knew I had to approach her and I did know myself to be shier than that; I constantly remind myself that I cannot, will not disturb. The moorhen was indeed watching me but as our peace had been established; I lay on the grass to take a few shots. I have to admit I get lost in nature and just wander in the wild forgetting what I was in for. This time I was forced to remember as a stork span its wings above me and flew southward along the river.
I had almost reached my destination and tended to lower my pace and focus better. Along the grass by the river, a stork was on a glorious walk. I spied on it with my binoculars; the plain space ahead would not let me go closer. It was a magnificent sight: the red beak and legs showed its youth and a black line on the eyes multiplied the beauty. Noticing a slope, I found a hill-like to the east of the river, ending to a bush. I had to take this chance and walk a hundred meters to the hill while the sun shone above my shoulder and showed the way.
The thrill lay in the fact that I did not have an exact idea of the stork’s whereabouts—I could not see it and it could not me. Soon as I reached the bush, relief came as it has not moved much. What’s more, the light had made a dream of the feathers, a texture-dance of light and shadow. Close enough for my 500mm to suffice, I took my pictures as the stork searched for food and watched the surroundings. Other storks were appearing from the north of Rhine and my stork curiously followed them with its eyes. For a second its look changed and tended towards one particular friend, a friend indeed, as I saw it change direction—they knew each other. The stork already on the grass acted as a host, initiating what is known as ‘bill clattering.’ In greeting, it clicked its beak and turned twirled its neck. I had been waiting years for this chance; I had witnessed it many times but never captured it. I treasure the moment I captured and I’m convinced that I was rewarded that day. Once we learn to walk the earth with peace, eyes open to wonders knock; nature lets us in and simply opens up the door to immerse us in awe. My day was made to last and be remembered by the white storks of Schierstien.