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Pensthorpe flamingos

Pensthorpe Natural Park tickled pink at arrival of first flamingo eggs

Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, is tickled pink at the arrival of the first flamingo eggs at Pensthorpe – the first in 15 years since it has had Greater Flamingo.

After Pensthorpe welcomed another 20 new birds last year to its previous flock of 29, it hoped that a bigger flock would lead to the flamingos breeding. Doubling their numbers has produced this fantastic result and experts say that the ‘magic number 40’ can help to boost breeding rates amongst flamingos.

The first egg was laid by a 14-year old female flamingo and the egg has been carefully swapped for a wooden ‘dummy’ egg in order to protect it and it is now being nurtured and cared for during the incubation process. Since then, the flamingos have laid more eggs. There is now a wait to find out if any of the eggs are fertile.

Chrissie Kelley with the Pensthorpe flamingos

Pensthorpe Natural Park has done a lot of work to their enclosure to give them more space and encourage good breeding conditions as part of its Wetland Discovery Area development which opened last summer. The flamingos now reside in a splendid purpose-built habitat, illustrative of tropical lagoons more commonly found in southern Spain. The design of the enclosure includes allowing areas for breeding and specially designed winter quarters.

Pensthorpe Natural Park’s Head of Species Management, Chrissie Kelley, said: “Flamingos are wonderful birds and we have a great flock of them now at Pensthorpe. Obviously breeding conditions depend on many factors including the size and space of the enclosure and the ratio of males to females, but having 49 birds has presented a really exciting opportunity to see the possibility of having our own baby flamingos hatching in the Wensum Valley! We all hope that the eggs are fertile and that more eggs will be laid in the future.”

Pensthorpe flamingos

If all goes to plan, the egg will be returned to the nest shortly before hatching.

Flamingos build their nests out of mud, stones and feathers, creating small conical mounds on the ground. Flamingos tend to lay just one egg that hatches after a 30-day incubation period.

Pensthorpe Natural Park recently celebrated its 31st birthday and the 700-acre reserve has around 1,000 different species of birds, animal and plants. It is open daily all-year round.


The lakes and wetlands at Pensthorpe

About Greater Flamingos

Lifespan: 20-30 years

Length: 120-140cm

Weight: 1.5-4kg

Location: They are found in the Mediterranean, West Africa, South-West and South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. They prefer shallow eutrophic waters where they can nest and roost on sandbanks and mudflats.

Behaviour: Flamingos spend most of their days feeding, nesting, bathing and preening (they preen to distribute oil from a gland at the base of the tail to all their feathers, making them waterproof!).

Posture: A resting flamingo stands on one leg. It is thought that this unusual posture is adopted as a way to conserve body heat and energy.

Flamingo Chicks: When hatched, flamingo chicks are grey and won’t reach their full mature distinctive colouration until three years of age.