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 or call 01328 851465.

Go wild with TV’s Nick at Pensthorpe

TV presenter, author and naturalist Nick Baker is set to open The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s annual community event Wild About the Wensum on Saturday, May 12.

Intrepid explorer and natural history expert Nick, who has presented Weird Creatures (C5), The Really Wild Show (BBC One) and Springwatch Unsprung (BBC Two), will officially open the event, meet members of the public and host a bug hunt.

Wild About the Wensum, now in its 12th year, is a special one-day event held by the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust with the sole focus on encouraging people of all ages, especially families who often don’t get the chance to be outdoors, to enjoy the Wensum Valley, within which Pensthorpe Natural Park is located.

This year’s theme, Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow, takes a look at the plight of the hare in the English landscape and celebrates Norfolk as one of the last strongholds for hares in Britain.

Local wildlife groups and nature charities such as the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, Wensum Alliance and Norfolk Bee Keepers Association will be in attendance plus there will be a special trail to follow and free hands-on nature activities to try.

Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: “We are thrilled that Nick Baker, someone as passionate about the natural world as we are, will be joining us for our community day. Nick shares our enthusiasm for re-engaging with nature and nothing encapsulates our desire to inspire our visitors more than Wild About the Wensum. We want to encourage all generations to get outdoors and embrace the delights of nature – it’s accessible to all!”

Nick said: “Pensthorpe not only boasts a fabulous location within Norfolk’s environment-rich Wensum Valley but it is a great example of an attraction with a cause – keen to do nothing more than encourage visitors to reconnect with the outdoors. It’s an ethos which is very close to my heart and I look forward to joining them and being part of the event.”

Nick will be hosting a meet and greet in the picnic area at 10am, officially open Wild About the Wensum at 11am, run an interactive bug hunt for children at 2pm, and at 3pm will host a book signing and talk entitled How to Make a Naturalist.

As part of his day at Pensthorpe, Nick will also be invited to judge an art and photography competition, which 39 local primary and junior schools have been invited to take part in.

As the event is aimed at families and those in the local community, Pensthorpe reduce admission prices to a nominal fee of £2 per person for tickets booked online in advance, and £3 per person on the day. Under 3’s are free. Please note there will be an additional charge to access indoor play area Hootz House.

To book tickets or for more information visit



Special plant day at Pensthorpe

Some of Norfolk’s top nurseries will all be in one place and giving expert gardening advice as the annual Specialist Plant Day returns to Pensthorpe Natural Park on Sunday (September 10) between 10am and 5pm .
Organised in conjunction with the Norfolk Nursery Network, visitors will be able to purchase rare and unusual plants alongside traditional favourites, as well as getting inspiration from Pensthorpe’s own stunning gardens.
In addition, the day provides the perfect opportunity for visitors in need of an autumnal pick-me-up and garden refresh to get advice from Norfolk’s top garden experts.
Deb Jordan, co-owner of Pensthorpe Natural Park said: “We’re delighted to host this event for the Norfolk Nursery Network again this year. They will be ready to give visitors a helping hand and offer their advice alongside our own head gardener, Jonathan Pearce, so it’s the perfect opportunity for garden lovers to get some top tips from the professionals.”
The event also offers the chance for guests to experience Pensthorpe Natural Parks famous Millennium Garden , designed by world renowned plantsman Piet Oudolf , in full autumn colour.
Entry to the plant fair is £1 per person (children free/small donation) with money raised being donated to The Escape Project – Family action. Those attending the fair can also take advantage of a some reduced admission into the reserve and the Pensthorpe Explorer.
The Escape Project is a small local charity run by Family Action which promotes wellbeing through community gardening.
Visit for more details.

Open day at Taverham nature reserve

Taverham Mill Nature Reserve will be holding its annual open day on Saturday between 10am and 4pm.
Across the day there will be screen printing on the front lawn with a portable print studio coming from London to get involved in some wildlife inspired printing. The RSPB will also be offering information on how to give nature a home in our gardens and urban areas. Wild Touch Animal Sanctuary will be along to show children and adults the variety of animals they care for.
Various food and craft stalls will also be on the front lawn and the entire day is free of charge.

Pony power helps the Broads


Pony Power was launched at the Broads Authority’s annual open morning at Whitlingham Country Park to kicks off the 16-day Outdoors Festival.

It will give people a chance to contribute to the management of the ponies which, with their sensitive grazing patterns, help maintain fenland around the Broads.

The scheme promotes and celebrates 20 years of conservation management using ponies on the Broads fens. In return for a £20 donation members of the public will receive pony news, gifts – including a cute miniature plush pony – and special information.

The Broads Authority has a 25-strong pony team grazing six fenland sites. Made up of Konik and Welsh Mountain ponies the discerning diners are preferable to modern mowers. They feed on coarse grass, rushes and smaller fine-leaved sweet vegetation but, unlike mowers, leave the more wildlife-friendly plants and flowers alone.

Sue Stephenson, Environment Officer for the Broads Authority, said: “The ponies do an amazing job, munching on vegetation and in return managing our beautiful Broads habitat. There are some interesting characters and watching them interact is often entertaining.

“As many of our sites are tucked away and off the beaten track, people may not be aware that the ponies are part of our workforce.”

Anyone wanting to join the scheme or just find out more can visit

Wild Ponies on the Norfolk Broads

Wild Ponies on the Norfolk Broads

Pony Power_Toy (2)

New Sprowston wood opens to the public

If you go down to the woods in Sprowston there’s a whole new place now open for the public to enjoy.

Harrison’s Wood is a 27-hectare site of mixed woodland east of Sprowston, which borders Salhouse Road
and Blue Boar Lane and offers opportunities for local residents to get outdoors and enjoy nature.
Broadland District Council has worked with Sprowston Town Council and the Norwich Fringe Project to get the wood ready for public access, as agreed in the Sprowston Neighbourhood Plan.

Harrison’s wood was officially opened yesterday (May 11) by councillors from Sprowston Town Council and Broadland
District Council, along with children from Cecil Gowing Infant School.
Visitors can wander along the network of rides (paths) through the woods, passing through mixed evergreen and broadleaf trees including oak, rowan, silver birch and scots pine, and may be lucky to hear or spot birds such as chiffchaffs, treecreepers and great spotted woodpeckers.
Originally part of Mousehold Heath, the site now lies within the White House Farm housing development area and will provide a great recreational benefit to the growing local community. As part of the development, the woods were scheduled to be made publicly accessible in a later phase, but this has been brought forward thanks to a loan from the Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB) who recognised the wood as a key green infrastructure project.
Broadland District Council commissioned Norfolk County Council to develop a Woodland Management Plan, and the Norwich Fringe Project to undertake a programme of works to make the wood ready for the public. The Norwich Fringe Project has cleared and waymarked footpaths, installed interpretation boards, improved entrances to the wood, cleared unsafe trees and branches and installed safe crossing measures from the Cottage Plantation car park on Blue Boar Lane.
Long term, the wood will be passed to the ownership of Sprowston Town Council which will manage the woodland and ensure its use for the local community as a place for recreation.
Councillor Ian Moncur, chairman of Sprowston Town Council, said: “I am delighted that this beautiful area is now open to the residents of Sprowston and I am sure it will enrich the lives of all visitors. A walk in woodland to green spaces provides benefits for physical health and mental wellbeing, yet only 18 per cent of people in the UK have woodland within easy walking distance of their homes. This additional facility will make Sprowston a nicer place to live.”
Councillor David Willmott, Broadland District Council’s member champion for community engagement, said: “Harrison’s Wood is a great community asset which we hope residents will enjoy for generations to come, and we thank all our partners for getting the wood ready for public access ahead of schedule.”

Tina Callaghan, outdoor learning leader at Cecil Gowing Infant School, said: “We are delighted to bring a group of our Year 1 children to the opening of Harrison’s Wood. As a school we want to offer our pupils the very best childhood experiences during their time with us. We want our children to appreciate that important learning takes place outdoors as well as inside our school building, whatever the weather! We hope that the children who have visited today will be keen to bring their families to visit and enjoy this special place.”
Access to the site is via Blue Boar Lane (park at Cottage Plantation) and at Salhouse Road via the newly installed crossing delivered as part of the Norwich City Council coordinated ‘Push the Pedalways’ cycling initiative.
Visitors are asked to help look after the woodland by keeping to the marked footpaths, taking rubbish and dog mess home with them for disposal, and keeping dogs on leads.


Children from Cecil Gowing Infant School, councillors from Broadland District Council and Sprowston Town Council and the Norwich Fringe Project at Harrison's Wood.

Children from Cecil Gowing Infant School, councillors from Broadland
District Council and Sprowston Town Council and the Norwich Fringe Project
at Harrison’s Wood.

Nominate you local wildlife heroes

There are just over two weeks left to nominate local wildlife heroes for a Norfolk Community Biodiversity Award 2016.

Nominations close on Friday, May 13, ahead of the awards ceremony, which will take place in Norwich in July.

Nominations can be for individuals, businesses, local groups and parish and town councils right across the county who are taking voluntary action to improve the local environment for nature. The awards will be judged on how their work has boosted biodiversity, got the local community involved and how the project will continue to bring benefits for years to come.

The awards focus on the voluntary efforts of individuals and groups, whose projects are not part of the daily work of any conservation organisation, and which benefit their local communities and local environment.

Last year there were 15 winners including Wild About Colby who set up an inspiring nest box boost project to help owls in North Norfolk.

The awards are sponsored by Kelling Heath Holiday Park (Inspiring Others Award); The Landscape Partnership (Parish and Town Councils Award); Norfolk Wildlife Trust (Churchyards and Cemeteries) and the Church of England Norwich Diocese.

For more information and to make a nomination visit the Norfolk Biodiversity Partnership website: