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Animals

Birdwatch: white storks return to UK after 600-year absence

Scheme in West Sussex leads to first chicks of the species hatching in the wild since the 15th century

The sound was both primeval yet utterly fresh and new: a time-travelling throwback to the middle ages; yet, at the same time, a portent of a brighter future for our rural landscape.

Like a rapid burst of machine-gun fire, the bill-clapping of a white stork is – in nature’s terms – simply a signal that the bird is displaying to its mate. But for me, it also has a deep cultural resonance: as if the stork is celebrating its belated return to the British scene, after a gap of more than 600 years.

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