White storks attempt to nest in Britain

White storks nest in Sussex

One of the first attempts by white storks to nest inĀ  Britain for centuries occurred in Spring 2019 at Knepp Estate in West Sussex, which is one of the UK’s leading sites for successful rewilding.

Unfortunately, the eggs failed to hatch and the nest has now been abandoned. This is not an unusual occurrence with young and inexperienced birds, and it is hoped that there will be more positive news of breeding success in future years. There have also been unsuccessful nesting attempts in recent years in on buildings in Norfolk and Nottinghamshire, involving free-flying storks.

Nature Picture Library has exclusive images of the Knepp storks by Nick Upton, who has been working closely with the White Stork Project team. This project is a pioneering partnership of private landowners and nature conservation charities. In fact, it aims to restore a population of at least 50 breeding pairs of storks to southern England by 2030 through a phased release programme.

Partners in the project

Key partners in the project are Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Knepp Estate and Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

Most of the birds in the reintroduction project have come from Warsaw Zoo in Poland. In addition, 15 birds were imported from Strasbourg in France. These birds are rehabilitated wild individuals, suitable for release. There is a captive breeding programme at Cotswold Wildlife Park, as shown in the images below. Here you can also see storks in a netted enclosure at Knepp, prior to release.

White storks in Britain

White storks were once widespread in Britain. Now conservationists hope that the project will re-establish a viable breeding population in southern England. Hopefully the birds will migrate south each winter along with the native European population. Small numbers of white storks already reach Britain every year as “overshoot migrants”. So it is likely that some of these will join the new breeding population.

More images of the White Stork Project will be available from our site as the project progreses – watch this space!

If you would like to see more of our coverage on this iconic bird, take a look at our new white stork gallery.