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Stork Renaissance

By JW Dowey - 04 Apr 2014 6:35:0 GMT
Stork Renaissance

The Extremadura here, or a central German village would be the classic stork scenario, but with some manipulation, it seems likely that two storks, Fidelity and Fertility, are about to break a 600 year habit and lay in the UK -White stork image; Credit: © Shutterstock

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but after a failed nesting attempt in 2004, a pair of storks could re-establish the species in Britain after 600 years. There have been lots of single English storks building nests in places like Mansfield. The last record of a successful brood was 600 years ago, however - well 598, if you want to be pedantic!

The stork is a large animal to have on top of your chimney sitting on a pile of sticks, but it's familiar throughout most of Europe and I believe it nests even in Finland. St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland supplied the last sitting tenant in 1416, with no record of an English nestling after that either.

Scotland then holds the record of last stork until Norfolk can prove this year is the year for the unique Ciconia ciconia. The Netherlands Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden have seen populations resume breeding, after intensive conservation efforts there. This means that as they migrate in the spring from Africa, the birds pass the Straits of Gibraltar and a couple or two hit on the UK, and maybe Ireland too in the near future.

St Giles Cathedral staff could stick a few twigs on the roof in anticipation. After all, this symbol of the joy of a new child was used as a fertility symbol long before Christianity. Of course, the likely story will revolve around temperatures and global warming of the white stork's habitat in some areas. At Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens near Great Yarmouth, the east coast sun shines warmly, with less rain than western Britain. Supplies of fodder such as insects, fish, a mammal or two and amphibians will be more plentiful than in recent centuries, when the Thames froze over and thee mini-ice age was observed. Perhaps the storks left for good reason.

It seems like a medieval Machiavellian plot this year with the semi-wild birds living in a zoo The chosen chimney isn't as old as the last stork but it is certainly 18th century. The Director of the establishment tried to attract storks to nest by building a structure on one chimney at the front of the hall, but the choosy creatures wanted to have a back chimney, out of sight and 36 feet up.

Mating has begun and nests last for decades, getting larger every year, so the decision seems to have been made, to invade! Youngsters, if they survive well, will presumable return to the wildlife park to set up a "storkery" or whatever Lallans term was used in Edinburgh in 1416! Thanks to the people responsible for contriving the record mating and hopefully the reproductive success. We hope Thrigby Hall becomes a Mecca for stork enthusiasts as that baby peeps over the edge for the first time. Great conservation/ reintroduction project!