Monday, April 30, 2007

Red Kites of Rockingham

Yep, not been to Rockingham yet, even though it's only a 30-minute drive, it's in county and it's the site of the re-introduction of the Red Kite. But apart from that no reason to go really!

We headed for the car park at the visitors centre at Fermyn Woods, which is a good looking location and one to which we shall return. We saw about five Red Kites in the local area, though this one showed the best. His name is 'G', we could tell that from the tags he was sporting on each wing, which can't be all that comfortable, but hey, what do I know?

They are magnificent birds, the biggest for miles around and very distinctive. The way they use their 'fan' tails in flight stands them out from the other raptors, that and just their sheer size. Try cruising down the M40 on a clear day... between junctions 7 and 4!

I want to go back and spend a whole day setting up the perfect photo, rather than these hurried efforts. Anyway the car park was the start of an extended walk, the Lyveden New Bield walk, which is mapped at 9.5 miles but we extended it to take in Aldwincle too. It was a perfect day for walking, 21 to 22c with a very light breeze and very few people around (where were they all?).

We heard a number of migrants calling including at least two cuckoos and a handful of warblers but everything was proving rather elusive (I think we got there too late and anything unusual had already been flushed or driven into cover by the morning dog walkers). Further along the walk, this Yellowhammer showed very well on the path before flying up to join its mate in a nearby tree:

Towards the end of the walk, having routed through the villages and now heading back, this Willow Warbler hopped around a bit before allowing me sufficient time to get a focus:

On the Sunday it was up to Kedleston Hall accompanying my wife, to surprise a mutual friend and to mooch around the house and the grounds ( Tis fair to say the Curzons including the then Viceroy for India appear to have looted their way around half the planet!

There's a 'long walk' in the grounds, which is a well-trodden 3.2 miles around, with very clear paths, etc. Quite pleasant if a little 'canned'. In the forested section of the walk the ground is quite literally covered in Bluebells at the moment:

It was a real surprise however to see this Mandarin Duck drake on the water as we neared the end of the walk:

We'd seen these before in captivity but not in the wild, so another one added to the UK and life lists :)


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