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Storks steal golf balls for nest

Neumuenster, May 22: A pair of storks that decided to nest on the middle of a German golf course were so keen to become parents that they stole balls from players and tried to hatch them. They took so many balls that one nest, on the fourth green, overflowed and they built a second at the seventh hole for their haul.

Although their chances of parenthood appeared remote, the birds were regarded as a biological sensation by German nature authorities. Breaking with tradition, they had decided to nest on the ground rather than on top of a chimney.

Curious crowds flocked to see them at Golf Park Krogaspe near Neumuenster and last week a conservation group asked the club’s British owner, Chris Parker, if the storks could incubate an egg left abandoned after the parents were killed.

The egg was successfully infiltrated among the balls. The chick is expected to hatch next week to be looked after by its surrogate parents ' nicknamed Storki and Staki.

“I was happy to agree, especially if it stopped them stealing golf balls in the middle of play,” said Parker, 53.

He has erected a barrier to protect the storks, which first took up residence two weeks ago. “At first we tried to chase them away, as we feared that they might get hit by a golf ball, but they proved very stubborn ' and less timid by the day. We couldn’t believe it when we saw the nest filled with stolen balls. We contacted the German Nature Preservation Association and at first they didn’t believe us. When they came to see, there was a lot of excitement.”

Georg Fiedler, of the association, said the birds might have lost their own nest, possibly to another pair. “The breeding season lasts a short time,” he said. “I believe that, driven by a remarkable parental urge, they nested on the green and tried to hatch golf balls. They obviously feel they bear a sufficient resemblance to stork eggs even though they are only about half the size.”

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