On Monday Andrew, Nicole and I went to the Knepp estate in West Sussex. This 3500-acre estate was once used for intensive farming. In 2001 the owners took the decision to allow nature to take its course, with natural land management by grazing. It differs from a nature reserve in that rather than specifically conserving habitat for noted species, it focuses on allowing nature to restore natural habitat. In the 21 years since it started, it has been very successful and is home to many rare species including Turtle Dove, Nightengale and Purple Emporer butterflies.
It is also the base of the UK White Stork re-introduction programme. Once a breeding bird in Britain, they had been reduced to a handful of continental migrants each year. Birds bred at Warsaw Zoo have been reintroduced into the estate. the first birds arrived in 2017 and the first successful breeding took place in 2020. Interestingly although the female of this pair was a ringed bird released by the project, the male bird was unringed and so likely was a wild bird from the continent. The following year 15 young were fledged.
In all on our walk, we saw 3 nests with 8 individuals on them. We also saw a number of storks in flight.
Other highlights included a herd of Fallow Deer and finding a Wasp Spider. We also saw a Bank Vole and a couple of Stoats.
Not the largest list of species but some pretty good sightings whilst undertaking a lovely walk in the countryside.