When I was a kid and we holidayed every year in Denmark, the stork was an iconic bird and one we never saw in the UK, and we would take trips down to Ribe in southern Jylland – the Danish mainland – to see storks nesting on church towers, thatched rooves and wagon wheels the locals had mounted on tall poles for that purpose.
In recent years a successful reintroduction program undertaken on the Knepp estate in Sussex with birds from Warsaw zoo has resulted in storks breeding again in England. The last recorded breeding in the UK happened in 1416 so it’s been a very long time coming!
Yesterday I went for a walk around Burwell Fen and Wicken Fen and the spring weather was perfect for nature watching; and birds, butteflies and mammals were out in abundance. But the star of the show was a stork sitting atop the Tower Hide at Wicken Fen. I’d been tipped off by another person enjoying a walk in the spring sunshine that it was there, but I was a tad sceptical until I rounded the bend and there it was. The first time I’d seen one outside Denmark or central Europe. Suffice to say I was beside myself.
White stork – Ciconia ciconia – perched on the Tower Hide at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire
The stork is a migrant to Europe after overwintering in Africa and is up to 1.1m tall with a wingspan of around 1.8m. It’s a big bird and nests in small colonies on spectacular nests made out of sticks and I hope they start building them in Cambridgeshire again in the not too distant future.
I’d deliberately left my camera in the car to just enjoy the scenery and of course I half regretted that, so I took these images with my phone. Not the best quality photo’s of a stork but I’m very pleased with them and they record a very special sighting for me.
After taking flight from the hide it soared higher and higher over the Fen for probably 10-15 minutes or so before disappearing.
Apart from the stork, the Fens were alive with othe creatures and even though I don’t like lists this time it’s worth sharing a selection of what I saw and heard:
Hare, roe deer, orange tip butterflies, peacock (butterflies), speckled wood, brimstone, oystercatcher, lapwing, shelduck, swift (the first I’ve seen – and heard – this year), swallow, kestrel, sparrowhawk, marsh harrier, hobby, peregrine falcon, buzzard, cetti’s warbler, sedge warbler, grasshopper warbler – and all of these whilst being constantly serenaded by wrens and cuckoos.
If only I’d taken my camera 🙂