Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 16 September 2010 17:15
OK, picture the scene. I'm stood with a dozen delegates on an IALE landscape conference field trip on the edge of the mouth of the Cuckmere. We we were having an interesting discussion about the future management of the valley, I was, as ever distracted by birds, being migrating Meadow Pipits, Tree Pipits and Yellow Wagtails. In the corner of my eye I saw quite a few birders but they didn't look like they were on to anything in particular. Fifteen minutes later our group split, three going back to Seaford Head to get vehicles and the rest of us headed north along the Cuckmere.
The group of birders from earlier were just ahead of us and this time my birding sixth-sense kicked in. They were all stationary with scopes pointing in the same direction. I could smell a twitch! I lifted my binoculars to see a massive White Stork flying straight towards us, mobbed by gulls. I shouted 'WHITE STORK!' several times and eventually everyone (bar the three who walked up the hill) got onto it. It flew very close and even landed on the path right in front of us! I caught up with the birders thinking I had stumbled on a twitch but when I spoke to Paul James, I realised that they had stumbled on the bird just moments before. How cool is that!? It was being hounded by every corvid, heron and gull in the area and is only the second time I have ever seen one in twenty years of birding. The photos are a little blurry as I took them through a birders scope. (thanks whoever you were!) Here it is flying off, awesome!