Rare stork seen near King's Lynn

white stork

The white stork seen by photographer Julie Smart at Leziate, near King's Lynn - Credit: Julie Smart

A keen wildlife photographer captured an image of a rare bird on her way to work.

Until 2020, when the species nested in Sussex, white storks had not bred in Britain since the 15th century.

Each year a handful of the massive birds visit from Holland and other European countries where they are still common.

Julie Smart was driving along the B1145 towards King's Lynn  from her home in Grimston on Saturday morning when she spotted one in a field of horses.

"I was on my way to work, I always go through Bawsey," said Mrs Smart, 53. "The stork was in a field just off the B1145 Bawsey to Gayton road, you could see it in the field with all the horses."

rare stork

The rare white stork seen near King's Lynn on Saturday morning - Credit: Julie Smart

Mrs Smart said a number of birdwatchers had gathered to see the stork.

"I've never seen one, it was absolutely marvellous," she said. "I take a lot of wildlife pictures but I've never seen a stork. Apparently it's so rare, the birdwatchers were saying it's the first one they've seen all year."

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Birds from Europe with clipped wings were placed in large open pens on the Knepp Estate in Sussex two years ago, in the hope they would attract the attention of passing wild storks.

While this eventually happened, one of the clipped birds escaped and was later seen in Norfolk and other locations.

Rare deer and other animals and birds are now on show at Watatunga - a new nature reserve at Watling

A stork on the Watatunga wildlife reserve, near King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

The White Stork project hopes to establish 50 breeding pairs of the iconic bird, which have a wing span of up to 7ft, by 2030.

In the Low Countries, France and Spain, storks frequently build their large nests on rooftops. It is not clear why they abandoned our shores centuries ago, although the bird was once popular as the centrepiece at banquets due to its size so hunting may have been to blame.

It is not known whether the stork seen at Leziate is a continental visitor or one of the first to be bred at the Knepp Estate as part of a rewilding project.

Rare deer and other animals and birds are now on show at Watatunga - a new nature reserve at Watling

A white stork at the Watatunga nature reserve near King's Lynn - Credit: Chris Bishop

Conservationists are also hoping to breed the birds at the Watatunga Wildlife Reserve, near Lynn.


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