Birdwatchers flock to Welney to try and catch a glimpse of a white stork- thought to be the only one in Britain

PUBLISHED: 10:17 01 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:17 01 March 2016

The White Stork taking off at WWT Wetlands Centre Welney. Courtesy of SFB @NthNorfolk

The White Stork taking off at WWT Wetlands Centre Welney. Courtesy of SFB @NthNorfolk


While today may mark the first day of spring, in some countries the season cannot be said to have truly arrived until the first stork is sighted.

White Stork spotted at WWT Wetland Centre at Welney. Taken by Twitter: @RailraptorWhite Stork spotted at WWT Wetland Centre at Welney. Taken by Twitter: @Railraptor

This year, though, one has made a rare – and timely – appearance in the region, causing something of a stir among birdwatchers.

The white stork has been spotted near to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s centre at Welney. The birds are more commonly found in central and Eastern Europe and are only infrequent visitors to these shores.

The Welney bird is thought to have ended up here as part of its migration path to its summer breeding ground and is currently believed to be the only one in Britain.

It arrived in the Fens on Friday, and has since attracted many birdwatchers to the area.

Centre manager Leigh Marshall said: “This is really exciting for us – the white stork is an incredible bird.”

The bird is ringed, so staff are now investigating where it has come from. Early reports suggest the bird was ringed in Poland.

Mr Marshall added: “We’re in the process of finding out more; such as where it came from originally and where it has visited before. It seems to be settling in well and has been quite happy foraging in the wetlands around the visitor café.”

Steve Whitehouse from Birdguides said the last white stork to be spotted in Britain flew over Hollingbury on the south coast on August 24 last year.

He said: “The white stork was first seen in Welney on Friday, close to the main hide. It was spotted again in Welney on Sunday but has since flown towards Downham Market – maybe it’s getting a bit fidgety and will be heading off again soon.”

Gregory Evans, 22, who travelled from Hitchin in Hertfordshire to see the white stork at Welney, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to see such a rare bird in the country and was very worthwhile making the special trip to the Fens.”

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