White storks nesting in Sussex captured on camera after 600 year absence

  • WATCH: The moment wild storks are captured nesting on camera in a report by Malcom Shaw

The extraordinary moment wild white storks are nesting has been captured on camera in Sussex.

The giant birds have been absent from England for six centuries, but were reintroduced in 2020.

Two have now been caught on camera preparing their nest on the Knepp Estate in West Grinstead, near Horsham.

A web-cam installed on top of Knepp Castle has given curious birders the chance to enjoy a "storks-eye" view of the creatures and monitor them moment by moment.

They have been able to witness their courtship behaviour, nesting, egg-laying and even chicks hatching.

The hatching of the storks two years ago is part of a wider conservation project to reintroduce home grown wild white storks to the UK.

The team behind the 'White Stork Project' wants to establish a population of at least 50 breeding pairs of white storks in southern England by 2030.

There are now seven pairs of Storks breeding across Knepp Estate.

Co-owner of Knepp Estate, Isabella Tree, said: "It looks very random how they're putting the sticks in, but somehow they build these huge gigantic nests."

"And then when they start coming in with their beaks filled with moss that they're carefully pulling up dead grass from the lawn and then lining the nest, you can see every stage of what they're doing which is fascinating."

There are now seven pairs of storks breeding across Knepp Estate and their nests can end up weighing around a tonne each. 

Knepp Rewilding Project Ecologist, Penny Green, said: "One of the main drivers for the White Stork Project was to really get people engaging with big nature."

"We know that white storks elsewhere in Europe and further afield live amongst people in villages and towns and they're a real sign of hope. People love having them on their houses, they look forward to them coming back and nesting every year."

"We want people of Sussex and further beyond to start feeling that about nature. To have it on our doorsteps, to be engaging with it."