Archives

New exhibit to raise awareness of wetland habitats

A Norfolk visitor attraction is doing its bit to help save wetland habitats by launching a new Wetland Discovery Area for visitors.

On Thursday, July 19, Pensthorpe Natural Park, in Fakenham, opened the doors to its latest new attraction, the Wetland Discovery Area, which is intended to educate visitors about the importance and fragility of wetland habitats and to inspire them to help protect them.

The new £70,000 educational area demonstrates the different wetland habitats around the world such as lakes, rivers and garden ponds, and has been part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

A large pond-dipping facility, thought to be the largest in Norfolk, gives visitors a ‘hands on’ opportunity to see domestic wetland habitats in action, whilst the popular Pensthorpe flamingos are back on public display as their new home, illustrative of tropical lagoons more commonly found in southern Spain, takes pride of place within the new area.

Wetlands occur on every continent of the world, except Antarctica. Many of these wetland areas are home to species which both permanently live there or travel to take advantage of their food supplies. Unfortunately, in the last 100 years about half of the world’s wetlands have vanished yet they are still hugely valuable for wildlife. Whether for water provision, hunting territory, breeding sites or plant growth, wetlands are vitally important.

Bill Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe, comments: “We want to tell the story of wetlands as a habitat. They are diverse, complex, teeming with life, yet, most worryingly, under threat, so the more we can do to make people aware of their unique place within the ecosystem the better.

“We want to take our visitors on a journey of both guided and self-led exploration, starting with interactive pond-dipping in the Wetland Discovery Area and finishing at the Wetland Hide where they can observe nature in action. If we can communicate the beauty of these habitats effectively, we hope to inspire a passion in our visitors to protect them.”

The new area is the latest addition to the 700-acre reserve since it opened its Wetland Hide in April this year.

The new Wetland Discovery Area opening comes within the same month as Pensthorpe Natural Park sees its 30th anniversary and its 15th under the care of current owners Bill and Deb Jordan (pictured below).

For more information about Pensthorpe visit pensthorpe.com or call 01328 851465.

Calling all birdwatchers

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) is encouraging birdwatchers across Norfolk to count their local Woodcock from now until June 30.

There has been a worrying decline in the numbers of breeding Woodcock over the last 40 years and, throughout May and June, the GWCT and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) are working together to raise awareness of native Woodcock numbers.

“There are likely to be a number of factors contributing to the decline, from changing habitat to increasing predation,” explains Dr Andrew Hoodless, Head of Wetland Research at the GWCT.  “Ongoing monitoring is essential to help us understand annual fluctuations in numbers and assess the trend. The more volunteers who are willing to help out, the more accurate a picture we will obtain. We are asking birdwatchers to help us with this year’s survey by making three counts at dusk of displaying males.”

The Woodcock, being largely nocturnal, can be hard to spot. However, males conduct a distinctive courtship flight, accompanied by a shrill call, known as ‘roding’ at dawn or dusk.
Surveys of the male Woodcock show that following a period of relative stability, between 2009 and 2014, numbers dropped in 2015 and there are now about 55,000 breeding males in Britain.

For full details of how to take part see www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/woodcock-survey. To learn more about current research on breeding Woodcock visit: www.woodcockwatch.com/tracking-woodcock/tracking-breeding-woodcock/

240px-Woodcock_earthworm