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Justin Bieber

Cotswold Wildlife Park: Project to restore wild Stork populations to Britain

Cotswold Wildlife Park / RICHARD WARDLE

21 Storks - bred at the Burford park - have taken flight.

The White Stork Project aims to restore wild Stork populations to Britain - a sight not seen since the 15th century.

It's one of the UK's most ambitious rewilding programmes.

For the third year running, the Cotswold Wildlife Park has successfully bred chicks for this pioneering scheme.

They hatched in May and to maximise their chance of survival, the husbandry team at the Park "assist" fed the chicks on the nest

The 21 birds - once fully fledged - were fitted with highly visible leg rings to make them easily identifiable after their release.

In August, they were transferred to Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex for release into the wild.

Jamie Craig, Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, said: "It is an honour for the Park to be involved in such a fantastic project, releasing these birds into the stunning surroundings at Knepp and watching them soar on the thermals gives an enormous sense of pride and achievement for all involved". 

Scientists at the University of East Anglia are tracking the White Storks in a bid to find out about migratory habits that disappeared more than 600 years ago.

Previously unpublished data from the 2019 trial reveals that many of the Storks spent the winter in Southern Europe and Northern Africa, where they have adapted to take advantage of new food resources and gather in large numbers.

GPS trackers were fitted to eight of the Storks released this year.

Latest tracking data received on 14 October 2020 reveals that two juveniles have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Morocco. 

The White Stork Project aims to have at least 50 breeding pairs across the south of England by 2030. 

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