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Pensthorpe hatches plan for visitors to see protected curlew eggs

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For the first time in its history, a Norfolk nature reserve will allow its visitors to see endangered curlew eggs as they are incubated for four weeks, hatched and raised by hand.

Rescued from a Ministry of Defence airfield and housed at Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, nature enthusiasts can view the eggs in the purpose-built incubation facility and, with any luck, see endangered species hatch in front of them.

This is the second year of the project which sees the rare birds hatched and hand-reared at Pensthorpe before being released to the wild at nearby Sandringham Estate and Wild Ken Hill.

curlew eggs at Pensthorpe (56761693)
curlew eggs at Pensthorpe (56761693)

Last year saw 79 hand-reared birds released across the county, with a special ceremony at Sandringham Estate, attended by the Prince of Wales.

This Natural England funded project enables precious eggs to be saved from MOD airfields where the nesting curlews are a danger to aviation and nests have previously been legally destroyed.

Chrissie Kelly, head of species management at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, said: “Pensthorpe’s involvement in this critical programme has been extremely successful and we rescued and released 79 fully fledged curlew last year and have increased capacity to save even more curlew this season. To now share the process and let our visitors observe incubation and hatching is very special.

curlew eggs at Pensthorpe (56761682)
curlew eggs at Pensthorpe (56761682)

“Our backbone is in conservation and there’s lots of work that’s carried out behind-the-scenes to protect local wildlife, improve biodiversity and educate our guests about the endangered species in Norfolk.”

Every visit to Pensthorpe supports its Conservation Trust, founded in 2003 by owners Bill and Deb Jordan.

Dominic Buscall, project manager at Wild Ken Hill, said: "After a very successful first year for the curlew headstarting project, it is wonderful that curlew eggs have already arrived at Pensthorpe for incubation and eventually hatching. We are now making our own preparations at Wild Ken Hill to release these birds on the freshwater marsh and are extremely excited for their arrival."

The partners of this project are British Trust for Ornithology, Ministry of Defence, Natural England, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, Sandringham Estate, Wild Ken Hill and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Curlews released at Wild Ken Hill, Heacham (49572871)
Curlews released at Wild Ken Hill, Heacham (49572871)

For more information and to book tickets, visit the website: www.pensthorpe.com,

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