UK's first wild white storks in centuries hatch in Sussex

First wild white storks hatch at the Knepp Estate in West Sussex Credit: Brad Albrecht/PA Wire

A conservation project to reintroduce home grown wild white storks to the UK has announced the hatching of some eggs in Sussex.

The chicks hatched in a nest on the Knepp Estate near Horsham in West Sussex. The team behind the 'White Stork Project' said it is the first time in centuries that baby wild white storks have been born in the UK.

The organisation wants to establish a population of at least 50 breeding pairs of white storks in southern England by 2030.

The White Stork Project team have been observing three nests on the Knepp Estate. Initially members saw the parents incubate a nest with five eggs. They later saw the the parents removing eggshells from the nest and then regurgitating food for the chicks.

It is a turn of events, last year the same pair of white storks had tried to breed at the Sussex site, but they were unsuccessful.

According to the White Stork Project, archaeological records show that white storks have bred in the UK as long ago as 360,000 years ago, with the most recent record being in 1416... when a pair of white storks were found nesting on the roof of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Isabella Tree, who owns the site along with Charlie Burrell, said the births of the chicks had restored a part of history.