Surrey estate leaves White Stork Project


A Surrey estate has left the White Stork Project reintroduction programme, with the release site described as 'neglected' by local birders.

Wintershall Estate, south of Bramley, joined the White Stork Project in 2017 as a satellite release site. The project is a group of private landowners and nature conservation organisations, including Knepp Estate in West Sussex, working together to establish a breeding population of White Storks in the South-East.

White Storks at Wintershall Estate in December 2018 (Ed Stubbs).

After more than 15 birds were released in a small enclosure on the estate in 2017, a wetland area was dug out and nesting platforms were erected. In spring 2021, three nests had been built or partially built, with one pair attempting – but ultimately failing – to breed.

Since then, however, the project at Wintershall seemingly lost traction. According to local birders, a change of management on the estate led to the stork programme becoming 'neglected'. After many birds succumbed to a fox, only a handful remained – and recently no birds have been seen on the site or in the area.

The planned wetland area and platforms have become overgrown and it was announced this spring that the estate had left the wider scheme.