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Pensthorpe Natural Park

First flamingo chick is hatched at Pensthorpe Natural Park bringing flock number to 50

Pensthorpe Natural Park, near Fakenham, is celebrating the arrival of its first flamingo chick - the first in 15 years since the arrival of their first Greater Flamingo.

The chick, hatched on Sunday 22 September 2019, is being looked after and being fed crop milk by its parents, both aged 14. The chick is currently the size of its dad’s foot and the Pensthorpe team will be keeping a close eye on the new arrival.

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. Experts say that boosting the flock number to the ‘magic number 40’ can help to boost breeding rates amongst flamingos. Pensthorpe’s hope that increasing the flock size and making a new enclosure would encourage breeding has been successful. With the hatching of the flamingo chick, the number of flamingos at Pensthorpe Natural Park now stands at 50.

While the first egg was swapped for a wooden ‘dummy’ egg and placed in an incubator for safety until more eggs were laid and the flamingos were settled and the Pensthorpe team could determine their attentiveness, the fertile egg was returned to the nest and to mum a few weeks ago before hatching.

The flamingos at Pensthorpe Natural Park were moved to a new Wetland Discovery Area last summer to give them more space and offer good nesting areas to choose from. They now reside in a splendid purpose-built habitat. 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: “We are just so thrilled that we have a baby flamingo that has hatched in the Wensum Valley! It is the first flamingo chick that we have had at Pensthorpe and the team are all so excited by the very cute new arrival. 2019 is the first year that Pensthorpe’s flamingos have laid eggs, but all 14 eggs were laid late in the season and this is the only egg that was fertile.

It was the original flock of greater flamingo that arrived at Pensthorpe around 15 years ago that laid these eggs, rather than the ‘newer’ arrivals, so it seems that our original flock got very excited and have been practising laying and sitting, which has resulted in this late arrival. This is a really good sign that the flamingos will have had practice in time for breeding a bit earlier next year and that more eggs will be laid in future. At the moment the chick is sitting comfortably under dad’s wing.”

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.