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Wild About the Wensum returns to Pensthorpe reserve
CBBC's Jelly (right) at Wild About the Wensum 2009
CBBC's Jelly (right) was the star guest at Wild About the Wensum in 2009

Wild About the Wensum, which highlights the importance of Norfolk's wildlife along the River Wensum, returns to Pensthorpe Nature Reserve on 22 May.

It's the fourth time the event has been staged at the reserve, which hosts BBC Springwatch, and it's expected to attract about 4,000 wildlife lovers.

"We hope that local people will come to discover this amazing natural world," said Deb Jordan, owner of Pensthorpe.

The nominated species at the 2010 event is the house sparrow.

The River Wensum was made a European Special Area Of Conservation (SAC) in 2004 to protect the animals and vegetation that flourish in the rich habitat of the river and its ribbon of valley.

The free event aims to promote the valley's vital natural conservation work to families and has been set up the River Wensum Initiative and the Pensthorpe Conservation Trust.

Rare wildlife

"It was started to raise awareness about the Wensum Valley, because it's such an important site," said event organiser Kirsty Willingham.

"It has some very rare species along it. The Wensum Valley is of major importance," she added.

Mill Pond at Pensthorpe Nature Reserve
Pensthorpe is open free to the public for Wild About the Wensum

Activities will include a mini-beast hunt, guided walks, quizzes, treasure quests and bird identification sessions with local experts.

More than 40 wildlife organisations will have stands, including the British Trust for Ornithology, Norfolk Beekeepers, Hawk and Owl Trust, RSPB, Norfolk Wildlife Trust and the Norfolk Amphibian and Reptile Group.

It's hoped the event will continue to build upon Pensthorpe Nature Reserve's success in 2009, where it broke more than 90,000 visitors for the year and won a Best Norfolk Attraction award.

"Hopefully the visitors manage to stay up here close to north Norfolk so it promotes all the bed and breakfasts and other tourist industries. It's also very good for us here, our staff are kept very busy," said Kirsty.

Nominated species

Every year Wild About the Wensum singles out a species for particular attention to help promote its importance in the Wensum Valley.

Previously the marsh harrier and the barn owl have been selected, with the house sparrow hopping on to the perch in 2010.

"All the money on the day goes towards the nominated species. Last year we raised money that has gone towards lots of barn owl boxes that are going to be put up along the Wensum Valley," said Kirsty.

House Sparrow (Science Photo Library)
The house sparrow is coming under increasing threat

"House sparrows across the country are in decline, mainly due to the fact that the nesting areas are being taken away because houses are using more plastic rather than wood.

"Also, areas where the insects used to be are now being concreted up - there are not the same areas for insects to breed."

Wild About the Wensum coincides with the 2010 International Day of Biodiversity, with events being held across the UK to raise the profile of local habitats.

BBC Norfolk

As 2010 is the Year of Biodiversity, BBC Norfolk is going wild about wildlife and broadcasting live from the Pensthorpe event.

Presenter Martin Barber will be on stage at Wild About the Wensum with the Springwatch camera crew, who will spill the beans on what goes on before Chris, Kate and the gang hit your screens.

You will also be able to find out about the BBC project Bee Part of It and Wild Days Out - days out for the family taking place soon around Norfolk.

BBC Radio Norfolk's Andy Archer will also present his Garden Party live from Pensthorpe throughout the event and he'll be handing out free BBC Dig In seeds for you to sow and grow your own grub.

Wild About the Wensum 2010 takes place on Saturday, 22 May, from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free with £4 car parking.

Norfolk mammals feature on stamps
13 Apr 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
Springwatch confirms new season
23 Mar 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
Bill Makin: Creating Pensthorpe
26 Aug 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
The sounds of the River Wensum
21 Jul 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
Jelly goes wild in the Wensum
18 May 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
In pictures: Wild About the Wensum
16 May 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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