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Bentley Wildfowl A First visit to Bentley Wildfowl

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by pipaluk, 20 Jul 2017.

  1. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    I had never heard of this place before Shorts listed it for the 2017 UK challenge, but as I have relatives living less than an hour from here, I decided to have a look.

    I have only been to Arundel WWT, so don't have much to compare it to and have to confess that I am no expert when it comes to Wildfowl, but I enjoyed the visit nevertheless!

    The Wildfowl reserve is set in pleasant countryside with tree lined paths. The main path follows the perimeter with 20 or so low fenced paddocks of varying sizes, most of them were wide rather than deep which I prefer as it gives better viewing. There are then a couple of paths across the centre of the reserve, one of which passes 4 higher fenced paddocks containing 3 species of crane & one for Cape Barren Geese.

    Further along this path are enclosures for white Stork & Giant Wood Rail.

    Near this is one of the highlights for me, a very natural well planted enclosure with large ponds and an island which held around 10 Chilean Flamingo. I would say it is probably one of the best flamingo exhibits that I've seen. My feelings may have been influenced by the contrast with the bare yard and small pool I'd seen at Birdworld the day before though!

    There were a lot of unsigned enclosures and several with only some of the species labelled.

    Overall, I enjoyed the hour and a half or so I spent there and if you like Wildfowl and are nearby, give it a try. I think I preferred it to WWT Arundel.

    For anyone interested there is also a miniature railway and small motor museum, which I had a quick look at.

    Species list to follow
     
    Brum likes this.
  2. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    Chilean Flamingo
    Manchurian Crane
    Grey Crowned Crane
    Common Crane
    White Stork
    Giant Wood Rail
    Guinea Fowl

    Swans

    Corscoroba
    Bewicks
    Black
    Black-necked
    Whooper

    Geese

    Red-breasted
    European White-fronted
    Spur-winged
    Orinocco
    Magpie
    Cape Barren
    Barnacle
    Hawaiian
    Maned
    Swan

    Ducks

    Red billed whistling
    Indian Spotbill
    Carolina
    Bahama Pintail
    Marbled Teal
    Canvasback
    Cuban or black billed whistling
    European Shelduck
    Northern Pintail
    European Eider
    Gadwall
    European Wigeon
    European Pochard
    Tufted
    Red billed Pintail
    Cape Teal
    Ferruginous White-eyed
    Ringed Teal
    Common Shoveler
    New Zealand Scaup
    Fulvous whistling
    White-winged
    South Georgia Pintail
    Eyton's whistling
    Hooded Merganser
    Chiloe Wigeon
    Redhead
    Comb
    Runner Duck ( no label)
    Rosybill
    Australian Shelduck
    Smew

    There were probably at least another 30 duck species and several geese unlabelled
     
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  3. Nanook

    Nanook Well-Known Member

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    I am glad you liked it Pipaluk, when I visited it in the early 90s it was really quite poor. Having an unkempt look about the place. I was surprised it managed to keep going, and it has kept going for many years now, as it is a place you never hear much about at all. I think, at the time of my visit, it was still owned by the family that started it, but they were elderly, so perhaps it has been given a new lease of life under someone else now ?
     
  4. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    I guess some might still say it was a bit unkempt in parts and most of the signage was old & faded (where there were signs that is!). But I would prefer to say it had character!
     
  5. sooty mangabey

    sooty mangabey Well-Known Member

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    I've got a feeling it's owned by the local council.

    It's possibly my nearest collection - about 10 minutes away (I have the joy of Bentley one way, Drusillas the other....). I must confess to not having visited for 10 years or more - last time I went, I did find it rather shabby, and somewhat stuck in a timewarp. There are efforts to make the place more profitable - there's a Go Ape style rope walk, and in the past few years I've seen an open-air version of Romeo and Juliet in the grounds (pretty good!), but even in the local area Bentley as a whole (there's a car museum there, and other stuff too, I think) has zero profile.
     
  6. AdrianW1963

    AdrianW1963 Well-Known Member

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    currently NO listings on zootierliste for current or former holdings so thank you for the species listings hope someone else goes soon so we can have a full on show species list.
    Did you take on photographs of the species without signage so as we can help identify the species.
     
  7. 14027

    14027 Active Member

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  8. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to all on this thread (so far), for filling out my/our knowledge of this largely unknown but paradoxically long-lasting collection. My curiosity remains and If I'm ever in the area (which is not that likely in the near-future) I'll definitely make an effort to look it up.
     
  9. 14027

    14027 Active Member

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    Turns out that there is more to the story, taken from here.

    The house at Bentley was bought by Gerald and Mary Askew in 1937 and following the Second World War the couple developed the house and garden and started a wildfowl collection.

    Two large Palladian rooms were added to each end of the original house. Following the death of Gerald Askew in 1970, Mary gave the nucleus of the estate to the people of East Sussex. Mary continued to live in part of the house and the site was developed as a tourist attraction.

    In 2004 due to increasing running costs the East Sussex Council offered to sell the property back to the Askew family for £1.25 million or it would sell the property on the open market. Fortunately the Askews purchased the estate and placed it in the hands of a trust in order to ensure it remains open to the public for the foreseeable future.

    The quiet, peaceful gardens are quite secretively located behind the house and include well-laid ponds and statues of sphinxes. Songbirds and moorhens live in the gardens. In 1962 influenced by the Sussex artist Philip Rickman and a visit to the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge the Askew's started a collection of wildfowl. A pond was dug in a nearby field which was poor agricultural land and the collection was started. The collection now has examples of 125 of the 147 species of wildfowl.

    In 1982 a Motor Museum was opened on the site. It is a collection of vehicles mostly owned by private individuals and are on loan to the museum.
     
  10. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    The entire content of that page was, however, taken from Wikipedia - a not particularly well-sourced Wikipedia page at that - and as such should be taken with a pinch of salt. Certainly I doubt that the following statement is accurate:

    Quite apart from anything else, there are more than 22 species of wildfowl entirely absent from public collections within Europe - and several more which are so recognisable that I doubt pipaluk could have missed them in his list of species he knew the ID of.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Looking at the history on the Wikipedia page, the "125 of the 147 species of wildfowl" dates from 2008.

    Looking around a bit further, Bentley's own website currently says "We have around 1000 birds and 130 species from around the world" (Bentley Country Park), which could be taken in several ways because they could be including subspecies in the total as many places are wont to do, and they are likely including their non-waterfowl species as well.

    But a 2011 blog from their place says "At our last count we had 138 species of wildfowl here; there are 155 species in the world." (Autumn at Bentley Wildfowl Reserve).

    Someone could try simply emailing them and asking for a list.
     
  12. AdrianW1963

    AdrianW1963 Well-Known Member

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    I have e-mailed them but after looking at the google map I have realised I could visit the collection in September while I'm close by Birding.
     
  13. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

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    Was thinking about re-visiting yesterday on the way home from seeing relatives, but was disappointed to find that Bentley Wildfowl closed and the entire collection dispersed in the autumn of 2018! Glad I went in 2017 now.
     
  14. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Pity it has now closed though I never visited. I seem to remember one waterfowl species was bred at Bentley before anywhere else in the UK, but can't remember what it was.
     
  15. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Can't see anything relating to Bentley on the Avicultural Society list of first breedings.
     
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  16. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I was visiting Slimbridge and Peter Scott mentioned a species that had first been bred somewhere else rather than Slimbridge - 'in Sussex' I think he said and I said 'Bentley', but can't remember the species..