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Birdland Park and Gardens is a beaky blinder!

Graham Young visits a truly fowl attraction in the heart of the Cotswolds

A pelican watches a gull swooping in for a fish dish at Birdland Park and Gardens
A pelican watches a gull swooping in for a fish dish at Birdland Park and Gardens

With their peculiar waddling walks and little pinball machine-style flippers, penguins are funny creatures to watch at the best of times.

They are also funny peculiar, too.

Last Saturday when temperatures were pushing 27C, the country’s only king penguins weren’t even bothering to have a swim at Birdland, an attraction in the picturesque Cotswolds town of Bourton-on-the-Water.

They were just content to stand there and take the heat like a man (or bird).

One of them had only laid an egg the day before – with the possibility of a birth around September 5.

The keeper apologised to one mature woman, who was having the chance to enter their pen to feed them, for the fact that they weren’t as hungry as normal.

And so, even after we’d explored this nine-acre wonderland of birds, trees and nature reserve, by the time we were returning to pass the penguins again they were still standing in position.

Occasionally they would be aggressive towards each other, but that seemed to be more a mating process than anything else.

We reached the pelican area just in time to see these birds filling their expandable gular pouches with fish.

All the time while keeping an eye out for inland seagulls swooping down in search of their own ready meals.


Close to here, the pink Caribbean flamingos were gently walking through a pond, looking like super models on straws.

They look ungainly in some respects, yet are supremely graceful in others.

Certainly few colours, not even the golden yellow highlights of the king penguins, are a match for this extraordinary work of nature’s own art school.

Even the paler Chilean flamingo and great flamingo breeds cannot compete.

Apart from the lack of Antarctic ice for the penguins (or even a chiller in the style of the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham) a day out at Birdland has just about everything you could wish for.

The only disappointment of the day was a tub of Cornish ice cream at Birdland.

Its ingredients included water, sugar and butter oil plus dubious chemicals, a far cry from the ice creams sold in the village.

They feed the birds properly here, why not humans, too?

* Birdland Park and Gardens is at Rissington Rd, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2BN. Visit or tel 01451 820480. Admission: adult £8.95, child £5.95 (three to 15, under threes go free). Family ticket (2+2) £28. Ticket allows readmittance with hand stamp. Open daily from 10am except Christmas Day. Easter to November 2 opening is till 6pm, till 4pm in winter. Opened in 2010, the adjacent two-acre Marshmouth nature reserve is fun to walk round if you enjoy mazes. But it needs better markers to stop people from getting lost. The guide book is brilliant value at £1.95.



Cathrina Hulse
Multimedia Journalist
Annette Belcher
Multimedia Journalist
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