Our nature reserve is a giant arrivals and departures lounge.
Pensthorpe is the ideal location for bird watching in Norfolk. Seasonal migrants and increasing numbers of resident birds all benefit from the diverse range of habitats and sympathetic way the nature reserve is managed. Hides allow visitors to observe birds and wildlife at close quarters with feeding stations outside all of them.
In late spring and early summer warblers return from Africa. Blackcap, chiffchaff, and willow warblers can be seen in wooded areas, and reed and sedge warblers in the reedbeds. Cuckoos arrive from Africa in April and lay their eggs in the nest of small birds such as dunnocks and reed warblers. Lapwing can be seen nesting alongside skylarks out on the farmland and a large proportion of Norfolk’s breeding little ringed plovers can be seen near the Wader Scrape.
Fieldfare and redwing arrive from Scandinavia in the winter, sometimes in very large numbers, and can be seen working along the hedgerows eating hawthorn and rowan berries before moving on when the food runs out. Large flocks of finches and linnets feed on the wild bird food strips out on the farm.
Wigeon and teal, Europe’s smallest duck, leave their Russian breeding grounds as winter set in and migrate south and west. Good numbers can be seen out on the Wader Scrape over the winter months. Carefully managed land and water levels alongside the Wader Scrape allow seasonal flooding which in turn helps provide suitable breeding habitat for birds such as avocets, lapwings and redshanks when the levels are dropped in early spring.
Seven bird hides
We have seven bird hides looking out onto our diverse range of habitats, including two at our Wader Scrape, which was a popular filming location during our time as host of BBC Springwatch (2008 -2010). There is also our Wetland Hide which includes extra-large, expansive viewing panels, plenty of seating and room enough to accommodate an entire classroom of students. It showcases the stories of our diverse habitats and what we do to manage them. Heritage lottery funded, it is the largest hide at Pensthorpe and provides a great learning resource from a team of award-winning wildlife artists, illustrators, and wildlife specialists.
Our other hides are: Woodland Hide; Farmland Hide; Garden Hide and Lake Hide.