Staunton Country Park ditches its peacocks

A peacock at Staunton Country Park. Picture: ''Adele Mallows
A peacock at Staunton Country Park. Picture: ''Adele Mallows
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THEIR magnificent plumage has been a popular feature at the beauty spot for as long as anyone can remember.

But peacocks are no more at Staunton Country Park in Havant.

The park, whose emblem used to be the peacock, has decided to remove the birds after they became increasingly feral, with reports of the large birds ending up on roads and in people’s gardens.

One neighbour complained that the peacocks were coming in her garden and could frighten her children, it is understood.

But park users are spitting feathers about the decision.

Les Reilly, a pensioner from Leigh Park who pays a yearly membership of £22.50 at the park, has made a formal complaint.

She said: ‘We went there to see the peacocks.

‘It’s the time of year when they are out and there was not one.

‘We looked in all the trees, everywhere. I asked one of the staff and she said they had got rid of them.

‘I was very disappointed. I get membership every year because I love the peacocks.

‘I have lived here for so long and there’s always been peacocks there.’

County Councillor Liz Fairhurst, chairwoman of the committee that runs Staunton Country Park, said the three peacocks had been rehomed.

She said: ‘There were lots of complaints about the peacocks being there.

‘The ones we had were slightly feral.

‘They were not coming in at night. They were always having to be picked up off the road.’

She said there had been a complaint about the peacocks damaging a neighbour’s fence.

Cllr Fairhurst added: ‘It’s a shame they have gone.

‘That’s not to say they won’t come back in the future.’

Kerry Bailey, business manager at the park, said: ‘We have been decreasing our numbers of these birds over the past 18 months, as they were outgrowing the territory of the farm and gardens.

‘Our last three birds were rehomed. They mostly stayed within the farm area but during busy days would choose to wander out of the park to avoid the crowds and they were becoming more difficult to catch for health checks on daily basis.

‘We could have kept them in an aviary, but our farm team felt this was unfair as the birds were so used to being free-range, so they have been sent to a new owner who already has peahens and space to let them roam.

‘We are currently looking for a more suitable species of bird to add to our collection, something that links in with the Sir George Staunton period, as well as being more suited to being kept in an aviary or enclosure they cannot escape from. We have signage up to explain to visitors why they have gone and that we are looking at alternative birds – such as Reeves or Lady Amherst pheasants.’