Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Good News Story

image courtesy wiki
The white stork - Ciconia ciconia has been extinct in Britain for over 600 years, but why did they disappear? The reasons for their non-residence here are not clear. It is, however, likely that a combination of habitat loss, over-hunting and targeted persecution may all have contributed to their decline. The last record of a breeding pair was on St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh during 1416. 
Storks are a Christian symbol representing holiness, vigilance, and the Annunciation. According to European folklore, the stork is responsible for bringing babies to new parents. Although this is an ancient legend, it became highly popularised during the 19th century by Hans Christian Andersen through his fairy tale 'The Storks'.
courtesy wiki 
Four years ago around 40 young birds were introduced to the Knepp estate in West Sussex. The estate, a former farm, had been 'rewilded' and turned over to nature. 
This Spring, two pairs of Storks have mated and are now raising three chicks each in two lofty oak trees on the estate. The parents are all young birds - white storks usually mature a little later, so a close eye is being kept on both nests. The project aims to restore this lost population of leggy waders to southern England. 
On the continent white storks build their huge, shaggy nests on rooftops, they enjoy being in close proximity to people. The hope is that if in the future white storks nest on our rooftops again, it will help connect people living in towns and cities to the wider countryside. I would be happy to welcome them here on my Cotswold rooftop. 
The new chicks hatched at the beginning of May, and are growing rapidly. They will fledge when they are about two months old which will be a very special day for all bird lovers up and down the country.  

photo credit Brad Albrecht
One of the pair of white storks at Knepp greet one another as the female returns to their nest with food for the chicks.

39 comments:

  1. I love that picture of Hans Christian Anderson with the baby on the back of the stork. We have them in the Netherlands too in several places.

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    1. I have seen them nesting on the rooftops in Denmark, Spain and Morocco. It would be really wonderful if one day they decide to take up rooftop residence here as well.

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  2. Thanks for featuring this wonderful account on your blog, Rosemary. As you might expect, I had already received news of the storks' success from several sources, but that makes me no less joyful to see you devote space on your blog to it. It is an event of great significance and I hope that these pioneers represent the vanguard of a breeding population in Britain. Uplifting accounts concerning the environment and nature are hard to come by these days, but this is certainly one of them. How exciting it would be if one day (next year perhaps!!) you could show us all pictures of the pair that adopts your Cotswold rooftop as home!

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    1. Several of the young chicks that were released at Knepp were raised at the Cotswold Wildlife Park which is close to here.
      I know that you will be aware that there have been several other successful reintroductions over the past few years - the Cranes on the Somerset levels, the Great Bustards on Salisbury Plains, the Bitterns at several locations in East Anglia, the Ospreys and White-tailed eagles in Scotland. Several of the off spring of the White-tailed eagles in Scotland have been reintroduced to the Isle of Wight where they used to be seen patrolling their skies - the last one was sighted there in 1740.
      We all need good new stories at the moment to help keep our spirits up.

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  3. The silver lining of this lockdown story is the positive effect it has had on nature and wildlife. It's thrilling to hear about the stork chicks.

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    1. It is a story that I loved learning about - do hope that you are well and still enjoying living in the beautiful location of my childhood days.

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  4. Dearest Rosemary,
    That is strange that they became extinct in your country. In the Netherlands there are plenty of them and on our trip along the Danube last year we've seen quite a number of stork nests!
    Here in Georgia we have the Wood stork and that is off the list of endangered species.
    Okay, back to my MS, chapter 8...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - they have been coming but not staying, so we are all very happy at the prospect that now they are nesting with us again.

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    2. Great! Also you can now see us in S.F....

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  5. What a happy story, and I do hope there are more of these stately birds returning to your area.

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    1. The signs are looking very good Barbara.

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  6. Dear Rosemary,
    What exciting news! When I was small I believed the stork bringing babies story. Have always looked for them but have only seen them once...a pair standing on a huge nest on top of a chimney somewhere in southern Germany.

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    1. Dear Gina - the first storks that I ever saw nesting on the rooftops was in Denmark a long, long, time ago. I fell in love with them at that moment, and have always thought how lovely it would be to have them living back here again one day.

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  7. A magnificent bird I'd love to see nesting in reality, similar size to another English re-introduction down there, the Great Bustard. I have seen red kites a few times up here and they are spreading across the UK once more so it can be done. Bird-watched a heronry a few times but storks are a different level up again in size. Very impressive sight flying in a group.

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    1. Ospreys and White-tailed Eagles in your part of the country too. We have lots of Red Kites here, but what has happened to the many Kestrels that used to hover all along the motorways?

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  8. How wonderful - thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. It makes a change to be able to record a happy story.

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  9. Such a lovely story! But I hope you realise a rise in the storks' population may well lead to a similar increase in that of humans!

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    1. That is something that I had not considered I must admit.

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  10. Hello Rosemary, What do you mean that storks bringing babies is only a legend? Sure, I have heard of the so-called "biological" theory, but when you think of it, does that seem any more likely?

    At any rate, I hope that Britain's storks will be busy for a while now delivering their own babies.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim, you have given me a quandary, I am not sure what to believe in now, but I will accept your theory as being correct.
      However, what is happening is rather wonderful whatever way you look at it.

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  11. What beautiful birds, and I do hope they will now be permanently in Britain once more. When we toured in Germany in 2018 our tour guide in Wittenberg showed us a stork nest up on a building - huge! So that is where the idea of storks bringing babies come from: Hans Christian Anderson. I had a book of his stories as a child but I don't think that was in it. PS I am going to be a grandmother again :)

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    1. Years and years ago we went to the small town where Hans Christian Anderson lived, and many of the rooftops had storks nests atop, which I was thrilled to see.
      How wonderful that you are having another grandchild. When will it be, and which of your family are expecting a visit from the stork?

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    2. The stork will be coming to Sydney, where our older son lives with his Irish wife. It will be twins! Due October, but perhaps the stork will fly in a little sooner. We are hoping the borders open by then - it might not be until September. We are thrilled, of course :)

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    3. Thanks for letting me know Patricia - that is so exciting. I wondered if it was the couple who had got married in Ireland. I have five grandchildren too, it is a nice number to have.

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  12. Beautiful to hear about the storks that disappeared then to return with help, let's hope it continues.
    Take care.

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    1. Yes, it is all in the early stages at the moment, so fingers crossed the young birds will fledge successfully and expand the colony.

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  13. Dear Rosemary, near Berlin we have lots of storks - they are very home-bound, coming each year back to their nests - and building on the last one new ones - so those nests can become very, very heavy.
    I love storks - when I saw in Alsace stork nests I wished for babies for my son&DiL - and was amply rewarded - by the triplets last September! :-)
    And I still remember when my mother gave me some sugar lumps (I was almost three then) - and I had to put them onto the windows sill - then came my sister...
    In Germany they say that a stork bites the woman into the leg and then she becomes pregnant - but I do not know what is the reason for that tale.

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    1. Dear Britta - you seem to have a really good and very successful liaison with storks.

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  14. That is indeed a good news story. I remember the excitement of the first Little Egrets nesting here and now they are fairly common in this part of England, lets hope the Storks can have similar success.

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    1. It would be great if they were as successful as the Little Egrets have been. We need happy stories at the moment.

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  15. This is good news! I recently read Isabelle Tree's Wilding, about the Knepp Estate and the way the eco-system is altering by letting nature take care of itself. I'd love to see a stork like that!

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    1. We need good news here Lorrie - it is now becoming apparent that Boris took us into lockdown far too late!!!

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  16. I feel happy that the preservation of this rare heron is carried out at the Knepp estate in West Sussex.

    Anyone who dares to damage the animal population must be given strict sanctions to be a deterrent example.

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    1. Thank you for your comment - we are very happy that these storks have begun to next here after hundreds of years.
      Fortunately they are not endangered as there are plenty of populations of them on the Continent.

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    1. Thank you - glad that you enjoyed reading.

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