The White Stork is a bird that for most of us in Britain has been simply a feature of stories and history books. It hasn’t been a common sight here for centuries, not since the days when it would feature in banquets (medieval times). It is therefore quite big news, that this spring the first wild stork chicks in Britain for hundreds of years are about to hatch!
This has not come about randomly. While a handful of wild storks do appear in Britain during the summer each year, they are visiting birds which do not breed. The success of this breeding attempt is from concerted conservation efforts by a project called the White Stork Project, involving the partnership of different conservation organisations and land owners in West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey.
The project has worked to introduce wild fledged storks from Poland and France into large pens in different areas over the past three years. This includes Knepp, where a pair of birds has now formed a nest in a large oak tree near, but separate from, the pen. In addition to the 5 eggs laid by this pair, a second pair has nested nearby. It is hoped that the birds from this programme will go on to form at least 20 breeding pairs, leading to a wild population becoming established in Britain.
Find about more about the storks, the project, and the progress of the chicks on the White Stork Project website.