Chance to see endangered curlew eggs at Norfolk nature reserve

Pensthorpe Natural Park will allow visitors to see endangered curlew eggs

Pensthorpe Natural Park will allow its visitors to see endangered curlew eggs as they are incubated for four weeks, hatched and raised by hand - Credit: Pensthorpe Natural Park

A Norfolk nature reserve has hatched a new offering - letting people see an endangered bird's eggs while they are being incubated.

For the first time in its history, Pensthorpe Natural Park will allow its visitors to see curlew eggs as they are incubated for four weeks, hatched and raised by hand.

Pensthorpe Conservation Trust has been focusing on the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species, the curlew.

Pensthorpe Conservation Trust has been focusing on the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species, the curlew. - Credit: Pensthorpe Natural Park

The eggs have been rescued from a Ministry of Defence (MOD) airfield and housed at the reserve near Fakenham.

Now, nature enthusiasts can view the eggs in a purpose-built incubation facility for eight weeks and, with any luck, see endangered species hatch in front of their very eyes. 

This is the second year of the project which sees the rare birds hatched and hand-reared at Pensthorpe, before being released into the wild at the nearby Sandringham Estate and Wild Ken Hill.

Prince Charles visited Sandringham Estate on Tuesday, July 27 to release Eurasian curlews.

Prince Charles visited Sandringham last year to release one of the county's most threatened species - the Eurasian curlew. - Credit: Martin Hayward-Smith

Last year saw 79 hand-reared birds released across the county, with a special ceremony at Sandringham Estate which was attended by Prince Charles. 

The Natural England-funded scheme enables precious eggs to be saved from MOD airfields, where the nesting curlews are a danger to aviation and nests have previously been legally destroyed.

Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, said: “Pensthorpe’s involvement in this critical programme has been extremely successful and we have increased capacity to save even more curlew this season.

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

Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at Pensthorpe Natural Park - Credit: Archant

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“To now share the process and let our visitors observe incubation and hatching is very special.

“Our backbone is in conservation and there’s lots of work that is carried out behind the scenes to protect local wildlife, improve biodiversity and educate our guests about endangered species in Norfolk.”

Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, added: "It is wonderful that curlew eggs have already arrived at Pensthorpe for incubation and eventually hatching.

The curlew eggs are rescued from a Ministry of Defence airfield and housed at Pensthorpe Natural Park 

The curlew eggs are rescued from a Ministry of Defence airfield and housed at Pensthorpe Natural Park - Credit: Pensthorpe Natural Park

“We are now making our own preparations at Wild Ken Hill to release these birds on the freshwater marsh, and are extremely excited for their arrival."

Partners of the project include the British Trust for Ornithology, the Ministry of Defence, Natural England, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Sandringham Estate, Wild Ken Hill and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.