Avocets at Pensthorpe Natural Park. Photo : Steve Adams

Beauty to take your breath away

If you want stunning vistas and natural charm, you’ve come to the right place. Pensthorpe’s home to charming walks and breath-taking natural sights that surprise with every season.

Wade on in

Set off for our shingle and sand island paradise where you can spot breeding waders, wintering waterfowl, and birds of prey from two hides. It’s our star location for bird watching pros and novices alike.

Explore the wader scrape

A wader scrape is an open area of shallow water with shingle and sand islands. It’s an insect-rich habitat that’s ideal for breeding waders in the summer and migrating waterfowl in the winter. So there’s always something exciting to see!

Keeping our wader scrape in good shape for its inhabitants is hard work. We carefully manage the water levels to create muddy edges in the summer – perfect for waders. Then, in the winter, we raise the levels to remove vegetation for wintering waterfowl, making it ready for the next spring. We also carry out scrub clearance to keep the area open, creating flight lines and views for birds to spot predators.

What you’ll see

Our wader scrape is like Heathrow Airport for birds – be prepared to spot take-offs, landings and lots of splashing about. Watch out for:

  • Waders, including avocets, oystercatchers, kingfishers, little ringed plovers, redshank, lapwing, godwits, sandpipers, and snipe.
  • Waterfowl over the winter months, like teal, wigeon, shoveler, goldeneye and smew.
  • Birds of prey all year round, including marsh harrier, peregrine, buzzard, sparrowhawk, kestrel, the odd red kite if you’re lucky, and hobbies and honey buzzard in the summer. 
  • And more… Over-wintering bitterns and water rail can be found in the reed fringe of the scrape too.

Wade back in time

When the wader scrape was created here in the 1970s, over two million tonnes of gravel was excavated from the site. The dig unearthed some amazing finds, including ancient artefacts, like a hand axe thought to date back to 8000 BCE, as well as woolly mammoth tusks and a tooth.