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One of the smallest and prettiest of parrots, Lilian’s Lovebirds, now at Paradise Park

Posted on Friday 21st July, 2017

One of the smallest and prettiest of parrots, Lilian’s Lovebirds, now at Paradise Park

Living up to their name, lovebirds are social and happy to live in groups with their nests close together. They are monogamous and pairs usually snuggle close together strengthening their lifelong bond.

Director Alison Hales explains “This species had never been kept at Paradise Park before, but last July, Calvin Bradley, former Secretary of the Lovebird Society, made contact and asked would we be interested in taking a breeding colony which had been established in the 1990s?

The date was of interest as, in the past twenty years or so, many Lilian’s had been hybridised with other lovebirds aiming to create colour mutations.

Lilian’s Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae), also known as the Nyasa Lovebird, is distributed across countries in South East Africa including Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Classified as ‘Near Threatened’ in the wild due to persecution by farmers and capture for the local and international bird trade, it is among the World Parrot Trust’s (based at Paradise Park) priority species in Africa.”

Because of the genetic purity and increasing importance of this well-managed captive group, we made plans to take the birds at the Park. The move took place in March 2017, and the birds were housed in a tall aviary next to the resident group of Black-cheeked Lovebirds (Agapornis nigrigenis). It was interesting to see them side by side, very similar in shape with the Lilian’s perhaps a little more lightweight and each with their distinctive colouring.

After a period of transition when they got used to their new surroundings, nest boxes were added both inside the hut and out in the aviary to give them a choice of location. They quickly took to the ply boxes we made for them, packing them with leaves, grass and twigs to leave just a small space at the top.

The birds were regularly visiting their nests and then the Keepers found the first eggs. Three weeks later and chicks had hatched. Over the next weeks there were chicks in three nests, and then we were excited to see the first fledgling. The youngster spent a morning on the ground before climbing up low branches, soon joining the group when we could hardly distinguish it from the adults. We hope this will be start of many successful nests, and we will be happy to cooperate in breeding schemes for Lilian’s in future so we can share our birds and their genes.

 

At risk due to habitat loss and persecution

The World Parrot Trust’s Africa Programme has been focusing on Lilian’s Lovebirds as part of an initiative to protect these parrots in Africa’s Zambezi basin, an area which includes the closely-related Black-cheeked Lovebird. The work, which was launched in 2014, includes: 

  • Research to learn the current status of populations and causes of declines
  • Identification of key breeding areas and other important sites for conservation
  • Development of actions to address threats and protect areas of critical habitat
  • Explore possibilities for reintroduction into areas from which they have disappeared

These initiatives are conducted in partnership with Dr. Tiwonge Gawa from the Museums of Malawi, researchers from The FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, BirdWatch Zambia and the University of Edinburgh. The work has highlighted the importance of areas of mature Mopane woodland for roosting and breeding, identified new distributional records as well as worrying range contractions, and highlighted the threat of expanding agriculture, charcoal production and timber production. In Malawi, where many Lilian’s Lovebirds were being killed by pesticide poisoning, vulnerable waterholes have been protected through improved surveillance which has included piloting the use of camera traps to deter poachers.

Find out more about the work of Paradise Park here.

 

 

SPECTACULAR NEW THEME PARK RIDE TAKES TO THE SKIES

Posted on Friday 7th July, 2017

SPECTACULAR NEW THEME PARK RIDE TAKES TO THE SKIES

Sky-Force is the first genuine white knuckle ride to be unveiled in the South West and is now open in Helston for the summer visitors to enjoy.

Suspended on a set of four giant 18-metre metal legs, the Frisbee-shaped ride exerts the equivalent of up to 3G in force on passengers while swinging them in a pendulum motion and simultaneously spinning through 360 degrees!

Weighing in at more than 56 tonnes, the ride was transported to the park using five articulated trailers; one of which had to have a special extension in order to carry the 18-metre legs.

It has been a big project to install taking 6 months of a dedicated team and local contractors all working hard to get it finished for the summer holidays.

The ride has undergone a programme of rigorous testing and has been signed off by an independent specialist ride inspection company on Monday morning.

The ride swings from side to side in a pendulum motion gradually increasing in speed.  At the same time the gondola which sits forty people starts rotating.  Once the swing reaches its full height about 20 metres into the air, with the arm at approximately 90 degrees to the ground the people at the top of the Gondola are nearer to the 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock position, staring straight down.

The ride lasts 3.5 minutes which may not seem long but be assured it is plenty long enough when you are on the ride.

Flambards General Manager, Richard Smith said, “This has been a tremendous team effort and I would like to thank the local companies who have put in so much time and effort to help get this amazing ride ready for the summer.

I have ridden Sky-Force several times and it thrills over and over again.

It’s the only real white knuckle ride of this type in the South West and pulling 3G makes it an awesome experience time and time again."

 

Win a Family Ticket to Pendennis Castle in our Facebook Prize Draw

Posted on Tuesday 20th June, 2017

Win a Family Ticket to Pendennis Castle in our Facebook Prize Draw

Win a Family Ticket and discover over 450 years of history at this impressive fortress built by Henry VIII.

The family ticket is valid for 2 adults and 3 children for a visit in 2017.

The prize draw is open to fans of our Facebook page. For full details and to enter please visit our Facebook page here.

The prize draw will close at midnight on 27th June 2017

For full rules of entry please click here: http://bit.ly/2svTC7m

For more information on the Pendennis Castle please click here http://bit.ly/2bRCFhq

 

Can-do idea helps Eden’s Paul Stone win gold at Gardeners’ World show

Posted on Friday 16th June, 2017

Can-do idea helps Eden’s Paul Stone win gold at Gardeners’ World show

The Eden Project’s landscape manager has won a gold medal at the Gardeners’ World Live show – with the help of tin cans recycled from the project.

Paul won the prize in his own name for a nostalgia garden set in the 1960s, designed to celebrate 50 years of BBC’s Gardeners’ World.

Paul said: “I was delighted to be asked by the show organisers to have a look back at the way gardening used to be. The public are invited into a late 60s village setting and can see how planting and potting was back then and how things have changed - or not!”

One of the big changes since that time is the introduction of plastic pots for containerised plants. Fifty years ago, metal cans were still widely used.

Paul sought out some empty tomato and bean cans from the Eden Kitchen and turned them into eye-catching planters.

He said: “Using the cans is a lovely piece of recycling and reminds gardeners that there are good alternatives to plastic pots.”

The medal-winning garden on show at Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC Birmingham until Sunday is due to be featured on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World this evening (Friday June 16), after Paul gave leading presenter Monty Don a tour.

Paul is a very experienced landscape gardener and has spent many years designing and building gardens at Royal Horticultural Society shows, winning a clutch of medals along the way.

Visit edenproject.com

 

The Cornish Chough was plentiful in Poldark days!

Posted on Friday 9th June, 2017

The Cornish Chough was plentiful in Poldark days!

The Red-billed Chough is Cornwall’s iconic bird, depicted on the coat of arms and often called the ‘Cornish Chough’. And was said to be plentfiul in Poldark days.

Today there is a small population of about 10 pairs of these sleek crows living along the coast, but going back to the days of Poldark it was described as ‘plentiful’ and being seen in ‘great flocks’*.

Alison Hales, Director of Paradise Park comments “They live in the same places where evidence of mining is seen, including around the tin mine engine houses which were built on the edge of rocky Atlantic Ocean cliffs. Choughs appear to enjoy the challenge of living in these areas, coping magnificently with the harsh conditions and strong winds. They forage for insects in the cliffscapes and choose deep caves to build their twiggy nests.”

In the summer season you can see some of the friendliest choughs at Paradise Park flying in the afternoon ‘Free Flying Bird Show’. The choughs in the flying shows have been trained to fly to a Cornish Flag!

The choughs that appear in the show are called Cece and Sienna, and a new chough who is currently in training has been named ‘Melza’, a nod to Ross Poldark’s true love and red-head Demelza!

Find out more here

  

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