A GROUP of unusual daytrippers made the 100-mile journey from their home in Sussex to visit a Colchester beauty spot.

However, rather than cause fears of unnecessary breaches of Covid regulations, the group's arrival was welcomed with excitement.

This is because they are, in fact, white storks and part of a ground-breaking programme to reintroduce the species to Britain.

Eagle-eyed residents spotted the six animals at Essex Wildlife Trust's Abberton Reservoir on Easter Sunday.

They arrived in the borough from their home in Sussex - a distance of more than 100 miles, as the crow, or stork, flies.

White storks were previously part of the British landscape, with evidence of the birds in fossil records stretching back 360,000 years to the Middle Ages.

It is believed during this period habitat loss and over-hunting led to their extinction in the UK

The birds have been reintroduced in Sussex as part of efforts to bring them back to Britain.

Daytripper - a group of six white storks arrived at Abberton Reservoir from their home in Sussex. Picture: Amy Lewis

Daytripper - a group of six white storks arrived at Abberton Reservoir from their home in Sussex. Picture: Amy Lewis

Andrew Impey, Essex Wildlife Trust’s chief executive officer, said: “The white stork is a wonderfully charismatic species and a former British breeding bird, which can act as a flagship for the protection of vital wetland habitats.

"Furthermore, it can act as a beacon for wildlife engagement, telling the story of nature’s resilience and highlighting what is possible if we are prepared to take positive action for nature."

The six birds arrived at Abberton on Easter Sunday and stayed for the day, feeding and resting along the reservoir's edges and surrounding farmland.

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The stunning animals can cover vast distances in no time at all so the daytrip wasn't a huge ordeal for the animals.

However, it is the first time they have been seen at Abberton, much to the delight of local birdwatchers.

Essex Wildlife Trust are hoping the birds will return again in the future.

Katie Goldsbrough, Essex Wildlife Trust’s ranger at Abberton Nature Discovery Park, said: "Abberton Reservoir is the perfect mixture of wetland and grassland habitats to accommodate white storks within the Essex area.

"We also have lots of potential nesting trees and even some unused osprey platforms that would be perfect for breeding storks.

"Fingers crossed that they return to Abberton again soon and that this once lost species in our landscape, will make its mark once more on our beloved county of Essex.”

For more information about Abberton Reservoir, visit www.essexwt.org.uk/nature-reserves/abberton.