The vineyard near Přítluky, southern Moravia is bathing in golden afternoon sunshine. Grape harvest is only one or two weeks away. The vineyards are heavy with ripening grapes. Everything suggests the 2008 vintage could be exceptional, but, like every year, vintners warn wine consumers that if the hungry flocks of starlings take part in the harvesting, the entire business may go to pot. The districts of Břeclav, Hodonín, and the village of Velké Bojanovice permitted farmers to shoot the migratory birds as of mid-August.
Waiting for starlings
„This is only the calm before the storm. They are late this year, but they will arrive,“ says Jaroslav Bartošic, who has been making a living guarding vineyards for 30 years. „For now, they are happy with the maize and sunflowers from the nearby fields. When those are harvested, they will go for the grapes,“ he says, pointing at fields below, in which one can see groups of black and grey birds from time to time.
Sounds similar to shooting can be heard from afar. „These are gas canons. People buy them to feel safer, but they don't work any longer, the starlings have got used to them,“ says Mr. Bartošic. He only laughs at traditional scarecrows made from used clothes, poking their heads out of the vineyards. „I guess these now serve only as decoration.“ Another efficient way of…