For the first time in over a decade, Pensthorpe Natural Park will open new wetland areas to visitors thanks to a new bird hide on the banks of the River Wensum.
Providing ringside seats to all of the wildlife activity in the Wensum Valley, some areas that have never been accessible to the public will now be on display at the 700-acre estate near Fakenham.
Site owner Bill Jordan said: “Much of our attention has been focused on ways to enhance the Wensum, which we are fortunate to have running through the heart of the estate.
“With the river restoration now complete and the habitat flourishing, it is with great excitement that we can now open the windows of the new hide to give visitors a ring-side seat to the real wonders the Wensum has to offer.
“This new hide is on the opposite side of the reserve to our popular Wader Scrape and we hope it will encourage our visitors to explore the site even more.”
This stretch of the River Wensum and its surrounding wetlands is home to species such as bitterns, reed warblers, marsh harriers, reed buntings, otters and cranes.
The area is specifically managed to encourage waders to breed, yet sightings of garganey and great egrets have already been reported.
The bird hide is the result of a £53,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to open a window on the wonders of the Wensum.
It includes extra-large, expansive viewing panels, plenty of seating and enough space to accommodate an entire classroom of schoolchildren.
Reserve manager Richard Spowage said: “The new hide will enable us to excite the next generation about both the fragility and prosperity of the natural world and teach them the characteristics that make the Wensum Valley so special.”
There is also a second new hide which overlooks the estate’s arable fields with views of kestrels, yellowhammers, red-legged partridges and lapwings.