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A Wild Stork Chase

Written by Matthew Hill

It was an oddly warm winter morning, and I’d got up early to join a Young Birders walk organised by Becky, the Assistant Warden at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory. The White Stork, that had recently been spotted locally, was at the back of my mind, yet I didn’t expect to see it due its current location being in Worth. Upon arriving at the agreed meeting place, in the Observatory car park, and greeting the rest of the group, the options for the route of our walk were discussed. The suggested choices, that were thrown around, were Dickson’s Corner to look for Tree Sparrows or Worth Marshes to hunt down the White Stork. Unanimously, and much to my excitement, we agreed we wanted to find the White Stork, even though it would mean a longer walk for everyone.

However, before we even left we were lucky enough to be shown a new species of spider for Kent and also had a excellent view of some Ring-necked Parakeets that noisily landed in a sunlit tree in the car park.

Shovelers by Steve Ray.

Once we were ready to leave we set off towards Worth. It was a lovely walk and we caught a fleeting view of a Kingfisher, as well as some Shovelers, Teal, Wigeon, a couple of Buzzards and a few Grey Herons, one of which I mistakenly thought might have been a White Stork at first glimpse. We spent quite a bit of time at Worth Marshes trying to find the Stork, but then found out online that it had recently been seen by the Round House in Worth. The problem was, that none of us knew exactly where that was, but we continued in the vague vicinity. I didn’t know if we were heading in the right direction, but I really hoped we were.


White Stork NSmith Dec21 (2)
White Stork by Nick Smith.

After a while we walked along a track and past a building, which someone suspected was the Round House (despite it being a cuboid), and then we spent a while scouring the the field ahead of us. Suddenly, I heard a calm voice saying, “There it is!” As soon as I processed the information, I began looking, and soon spotted it. The White Stork was walking along and exploring the ground at the far side of the field. Occassionally it would disappear behind some vegetation, but mostly it was clearly visible, even without binoculars. It’s an unusual occurence for me to see a one-off bird like this, and it was such a great experience. We took turns looking through Becky’s scope and some of the group took photos. After a while, we had to return, but believe me I would have watched that bird for much longer if I’d had nothing else planned for the day.

Stonechat by Steve Ray.

The walk home flew by. There were fewer birds, with the highlight being a couple of Stonechats and some Curlews and another Buzzard next to the Observatory, but there was plenty for us all to talk about. Once we arrived back at the car park we discussed even more, from Myers Briggs personality tests, to Harry Potter houses (apparently everyone was Hufflepuff except me, a proud Slytherin) and afterwards I’d almost forgotten that we’d seen a White Stork! Truly this was a fantastic experience, and I hope to be able to do it again soon.

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