Back to News

October 2020 – Aviculture

12 Oct 2020

A month of transition and our final Corncrake release 

September is a month of transition from summer into autumn, and along with the leaves on the trees changing colours, so are our duck species; after the summer months our ducks moult into eclipse plumage where they lose their flight feathers and the males lose their colour. During September their beautiful breeding plumage once more begins to show. By the end of October, they will be in full breeding plumage.

The 10th September saw final corncrake release in the Wensum Valley, with Pensthorpe Conservation Trust releasing 121 corncrakes. Corncrakes were once widespread across the UK, however the population is now declining. This species of bird have become increasingly vulnerable due to factors such as habitat destruction and hunting on their migration routes. We have been actively involved in the breeding of captive bred corncrakes for release back into the wild since 2006 and for five years have been running a trial, working with local landowners to establish corncrakes in East Anglia.  



In order to gain a good measure for success of the release project it is vital to monitor all returning males. With this in mind, we are asking people to listen out next spring and summer, for their distinct ‘crex crex’ call, typically made at night. If you hear this call please email

The recent storm caused some of the reserve’s trees to fall; so we have been busy collecting some of the branches as enrichment for our red squirrel enclosures, which they have certainly been enjoying. Our outdoor team have also been hard at work refreshing our Wader Aviary, giving our Wader birds a fresh bed of cockleshells. We use cockleshells for different reasons; not only do the cockleshells act as a great breeding site for our Avocets, our Bearded reedlings, Ruff and Redshank like to scavenge through them for insects.