Video: Top 10 birds not to miss at Pensthorpe in counting week

Pensthorpe Wildlife Park are having their annual bird count - Keeping track of all the different types of bird on site. Flamingos Picture: Matthew Usher. Pensthorpe Wildlife Park are having their annual bird count - Keeping track of all the different types of bird on site. Flamingos Picture: Matthew Usher.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
4:02 PM

It’s counting week at Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens and with more than 800 animals to count, it’s no easy feat.

Here’s our pick of the reserve’s favourites.

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It’s counting week at Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens and with more than 800 animals to count, it’s no easy feet.

Here’s our pick of the reserve’s favourites.

①The Marabou is a firm favourite at Pensthorpe, known for its human-like hair on its head and large beak. Native to Africa, it can often be seen on rubbish tips or roof tops, scavenging for food.

They’re often compared to “little old men” because of their bald heads with curly hair.

The male and female pair at the reserve are still quite young, although they look much older.

②The Corncrakes are kept in an enclosure with the rare red squirrels and are part of an exciting breeding programme which releases the endangered species back into the wild.

The reserve are partners with the Zoological Society of London and Natural England in a breed release programme. The Corncrakes in the enclosure won’t be released but are kept to show the exciting work that goes on at Pensthorpe.

③In a separate enclosure are a pair of turtle doves - sadly a rare sight nowadays. The gentle purr of the turtle dove was often heard in summer but you’ll have to listen carefully now as these birds are not often seen in the wild.

They have seen a 93pc decline in the UK but they are slowly being re-introduced.

④A rare sight in Britain, the reserve’s pink flamingos can be seen near the nursery pen, where the 25 birds stand in the water, often on one leg.

The large birds are found across the world in the wild, but never as far north as the UK.

⑤The Eurasian cranes live on the lake, and with a pair of binoculars you might catch sight of the mating pair with their adoptive Manchurian crane son.

It’s one of the only cranes native to Europe.

The female is about 30 years old, and is often given an egg to adopt as the couple are yet to produce their own fertile eggs.

⑥The Red-crowned cranes are the reserve’s tallest birds and this year have bred for the first time. Their young chick has grown almost bigger than his parents, but can still be heard calling for food. Get close to these impressive birds in the viewing hut.

They’re native to parts of Russia, China and Japan and so are a rare sight in the UK.

⑦The Avocet is a black and white wader with a long up-curved beak. It is the emblem of the RSPB and symbolises the bird protection movement in the UK more than any other species.

⑧And the distinctive Goldeneye are known for wonderful displays where the males throw their heads back to impress the female birds.

⑨The Bearded tits are small birds native to Europe and the birds at home in Pensthorpe have a little heated hut to keep them safe in the cold British winters.

⑩The black and white Hooded Merganser on the lake have a tuft of feathers which they use as a display for the females.

See tomorrow’s papers for more pictures and the full story.

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