Speaker Kevin Harwood – Knepp rewilding project

By | 11th October 2023

10th October 2023

Kevin Harwood LRPS delivered an insightful talk on the White Stork reintroduction project in Sussex. Starting in 2016, the initiative harnessed the floodplains of Knepp estate, Wadhurst Park, and Wintershall. The aim was to re-establish a self-sustaining White Stork population in Sussex by 2030, following their extinction in the UK in 1416. Initially, non-flying Storks from Europe with wing damage or amputations, were introduced into a fenced off pen (to protect the birds from predators) and juveniles from captive birds helped to jump-started the project, resulting in the first nest at Knepp in 2019. Annually more non-flying and juvenile storks are added to this protected population.

In 2020, three nests were built, and four birds successfully fledged. In 2021, there were seven nests and 14 birds fledged. Remarkably, in 2022, the number of fledged birds rose to 20. Some of the Storks from Knepp have had GPS tracking devices fitted which has revealed their extensive journeys, providing fascinating insights into their migration patterns, with one covering over 1,500 miles within the UK in just four months. One individual (“Marge”) has been recorded flying to and from Morocco.

Kevin shared captivating photographs and videos from his extensive collection (approx. 500k images over the last 3 years).

Kevin also provided valuable tips for photographing these majestic creatures at Knepp, including the optimal time of year to capture the development of young storks.




Nest Building

mid Feb – mid April

3rd week Feb – mid May

1st week Feb – mid-May

Sitting on Eggs

end March to end April

mid-March to mid-May

mid-March to end April


3rd week April to end May

3rd week April to mid-May

2nd week April to mid-May

Chicks 1st Standing

early May to 1st week June

3rd week April to 3rd week May

4th week April to end May


1st week July to 1st week August

last week June to 3rd week July

mid-June to 3rd week July

In addition to the White Storks Kevin highlighted Knepp’s success in providing a home for Nightingales and Turtle Doves. There are many other species of birds successfully breeding at Knepp and Knepp also has the largest population of Purple Emperor butterflies in the country.  There is always something to see at Knepp, albeit wellies are necessary at wetter times of the year.

Kevin’s talk provided a comprehensive and inspiring account of the White Stork rewilding project, leaving us with a profound appreciation of the ongoing efforts to restore this iconic species to the UK landscape. A huge thank-you to Kevin for giving us his time.

For more information about the White Stork reintroduction project see www.whitestorkproject.org

For more information about the various, recommended walks around Knepp, see the Walking Map here