As well as our Wardens and volunteers from Wensum Valley Bird Watching Society reporting their sightings, regular visitors to Pensthorpe keep us up to date with what they have spotted.




Coots are much bigger than their cousins, the moorhens, and have a distinctive white ‘shield’ above its beak. They are quite noisy and can be aggressive towards others. They can be seen all year around but there are a lot of coots about the park over the winter months. 

Cattle Egret

For the first year in the park’s history, cattle egrets have been spotted at Pensthorpe! Cattle egrets colonised in large numbers during the early 2000s and started breeding in the UK soon afterwards. They are the smallest of the three types of egret in the UK (other egrets are lesser and great) and have yellow legs and a yellow beak. As their name suggests, they like hanging around livestock and can be spotted standing on the backs of cattle.


This native broadleaf shrub is pretty non-descript during the spring and summer months. However, in winter it is a blaze of colour as its twigs are a bright red. It is an important source of food for insects and birds. You can see it on the woodland walks around the reserve.



Starlings are a resident, breeding species on the reserve. During the winter months, their numbers are swollen by the influx of migrants from Europe. We have a small murmeration of about 400 birds which can occasionally be seen from the viewing gallery around 4pm each day.

Brimstone Butterfly

A large yellow butterfly, the Brimstone is one of the earliest to be on the wing and can be seen looking for nectar through most of the park from as early as January. Peacocks and Red Admirals may also be drawn out of hibernation on milder winter days.


Don’t tell them! Pike are present in both the reserve’s lakes and the river. Towards the end of winter (mid-February) they gather to spawn. Although they’re underwater, it is worth looking out for them hanging motionlessly around the edges of the lakes.