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Springwatch goes back to Pensthorpe

BBC's Springwatch is returning to its former haunt at Pensthorpe Natural Park for a one-off broadcast tomorrow Thursday June 10) at 8pm.

Pensthorpe hosted the programme on its 700-acre reserve between 2008 and 2010.

This time presenter Megan McCubbin, step-daughter of Springwatch's Chris Packham, has visited the nature reserve to interview Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, about the conservation work the trust has been undertaking including its long-term project with corncrakes, which has been running since 2015 in the Wensum Valley.

Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at Pensthorpe at the flamingo area Pic: Steve Adams
Chrissie Kelley, head of species management at Pensthorpe at the flamingo area Pic: Steve Adams

Due to habitat loss and agricultural intensification, the corncrake has suffered a dramatic decline in numbers and is currently red-listed in the UK for urgent conservation action.

For over five years, Pensthorpe Conservation Trust has been striving to restore this lost species to Norfolk’s Wensum Valley.

More recently, the Trust has been focusing on the UK’s highest conservation priority bird species, the curlew. Its numbers are declining at a terrific rate.Nearly half the breeding population has been lost over the last 25 years.

A purpose-built facility has been set up at Pensthorpe to house and incubate curlew eggs that have been transported to the nature reserve from dangerous nesting sites on airfields. Of the 106 eggs that have been recorded at Pensthorpe site, 45 have hatched to date; and counting.

The Pensthorpe Conservation Trust’s aviculture team delivers round-the-clock care to rear the chicks until the birds are nearly fully-grown. At this stage, the birds will be tagged by the British Trust for Ornithology and released at two Norfolk sites, the Sandringham Estate and Wild Ken Hill where the birds can thrive.

Chrissie Kelly said: “One of our main roles at the Trust is to conserve species, and we’re so pleased we are able to play a part in the protection of both the corncrake and curlew. It's vital that we make a change now before it is too late, as these species of birds have experienced a huge decline in numbers over recent years.

“We’re so glad we’ve been given a chance to showcase our work on Springwatch."

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