Norfolk nature park preparing for busiest time of the year

Chrissie Kelley, Head of Species Management at Pensthorpe at the dedicated Flamingo area of Pensthor

Chrissie Kelley, Head of Species Management at Pensthorpe at the dedicated Flamingo area of Pensthorpe Narural Park. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

While people are self-isolating inside their homes and the world seems to be slowing down, a Norfolk nature park is preparing for the busiest time of the year.

4pm feed at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Photo : Steve Adams

4pm feed at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Pensthorpe Natural Park is now preparing for their bird’s mating season, making sure that their habitat is in the best condition.

But with staff trying to keep social distance and working from home, there are some changes in the park.

Chrissie Kelley, head of species management for Pensthorpe Conservation Trust said: “It’s breeding season and the birds are going to carry on regardless. The birds are relying on us to look after them.

“We are taking all the necessary precautions to maintain the safety recommendations, but any necessary handling of birds and nest box preparation are tasks that we cannot complete alone.”

New arrivals at Pensthorpe Natural Park in the shape of Red Squirrel kittens and a Flamingo chick. P

New arrivals at Pensthorpe Natural Park in the shape of Red Squirrel kittens and a Flamingo chick. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant


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Because there are no visitors around, wildlife is tentatively wandering from the fringes of the reserve to the inner paths and lawns to places they would normally avoid.

The park has a number of different conservation schemes, including breed and release programmes for red squirrels and corncrakes. As well as being home to hundreds of birds, including flamingo and rare species of ducks and geese.

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The reserve closed last Monday, having only normally shut their doors on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Not much has changed - but there are one set of birds missing the public. Ms Kelley said: “The ducks are missing the visitors. We normally feed them twice a day.

Bill and Deb Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe Natural Park. Photo : Steve Adams

Bill and Deb Jordan, owners of Pensthorpe Natural Park. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

“Throughout the day when we walk by, they are waiting in anticipation to be fed as they would if any visitors were at the park.”

The lack of visitors will have an effect on the park’s finances. This time of year is prime time for them, with spring blossoms, baby birds and warmer temperatures bringing more people to Pensthorpe.

“It is a worrying time for everyone,” said Ms Kelley.

“A percentage of all visitor admission and membership helps support our conservation work, so it’s definitely going to take a hit.”

Pensthorpe Natural Park Flamingo chick Novemeber 2019. Photo : Steve Adams

Pensthorpe Natural Park Flamingo chick Novemeber 2019. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Deb Jordan, park owner, said: “It is so sad that for the time being this awful virus will dictate everyone’s distance from each other and nature and the outdoors so emphatically.

“Hold fast all Pensthorpe members and visitors. Keep home safe and, we will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Hopefully, there will be lots of new fledgling additions to Pensthorpe’s extended outdoor family by then.”

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Male Corncrake at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Picture: Mike Powles

Male Corncrake at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Picture: Mike Powles - Credit: Archant

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