Sunday, 24 July 2016

My weekend at Cranford Park....

Yesterday (Saturday 23rd July) was our annual Fun Day at Cranford Park.
As one of the many volunteers my duty was mainly in the historic Stable Block with the incredible historian, Christopher Luetchford, talking to visitors about the old Cranford Manor House and the Berkeley family that owned it, plus I had a table in there with some of my photos from the wildlife at Cranford Park.
  I decided to do my bit in costume....
photo by Nathalie Mahieu
An 18th century House Maid to be exact.
Had I known the weather was going to be so warm, I might have had a rethink ! But the Stable Block was nice and cool and I had plenty of water to drink.
As I was on 'duty' all day, I didn't have time to walk around the stalls and other events so three of my friends kindly took photos for me.
photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Sue Giddens
photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Sue Giddens
photo by Lidia Sle-K

photo by Lidia Sle-K
photo by Sue Giddens

photo by Nathalie Mahieu
The Fun Day was a huge success. I reckon we had double the visitors we had last year. In the Stable Block we done a head count of visitors and the total was almost 240, a good rise on last years figures.
 Personally I had a brilliant day. It was really great to talk to so many people about our park, have my photo taken with lots of the visitors and it was really nice to have support from several friends and family who made the trip over. Thank you to my Mum and Dave Swan, Paul and Sheila Provins, Sue Giddens, Nathalie Mahieu, Sue Beasley and family, Jenny Grubb and her better half, and my lovely cousin Debs and her granddaughter Mollie.
With our application for Lottery Heritage Funding still being processed, it is so important to try and bring in more and more visitors to the park.
A massive well done to Bob Barton and all of the volunteers who worked tirelessly in both the heat of Saturday plus the meetings over the last few months, to make Fun Day 2016 a really great day.
Despite being on my feet all day I did manage a half hour walk in the meadows after the Fun Day ended, and my day was completed with seeing that the resident Kestrel pair have bought their juveniles out to start practising their hovering, flying and hunting skills.
I slept very well Saturday night.....
Today saw me at the park by 9.30am - I allowed myself a lie in after yesterday.
Today was about the Kestrels. Every year I wait in anticipation for the youngsters to fledge. Last Sunday I got a lucky shot of one of the juveniles with the adult male, still on the nest tree, so I knew fledging was imminent. A text message from Sue on Monday confirmed my suspicion - the juveniles were out in the meadows.
Nathalie has posted a cracking Youtube clip of one of the juvenile Kestrels hunting insects....I hope the link works as it captures what I cant get in a photo....
The weather was much cooler today and the Kestrels were very very active.
So be prepared for a complete overload of juvenile Kestrel photos. I'm not going to apologise for them as everyone who knows me knows these are my favourite birds.
To start with here are two great photos showing the meadows and the grassy paths that I will refer to later. Both pics taken by Nathalie yesterday...
photo by Nathalie Mahieu

photo by Nathalie Mahieu





These juveniles are learning. Basically they are at a 'Kestrel Academy' (copyright on the phrasing to my old mate Tony). They are learning how to fly well, hover and hunt. As they are not yet experienced enough to hunt for voles, mice or small birds, they are honing in their skills by picking out grasshoppers, crickets, dragonflies and any other critters that dare be around.
I bumped in to Yvonne and her darling dog, Janey, whilst I was out in the meadows and we walked back down the main grassy path (which leads from the Cranford Lane entrance all the way down to the mown area in front of the car park).
I love showing people the wildlife in Cranford Park and we spent an enjoyable catch up and gossip, with several interruptions from me pointing out 'there's a Kestrel', 'there's another one' and 'oh look there's another one' and with the Kestrels being so obliging at the moment, Yvonne got to see them all (as did Janey who when a Kestrel hovered then landed, done her best meerkat impression ever, then tried bouncing through the grass to catch one).
This week really is the best time to try and see our new family of Kestrels. At one point today I had six in view at the same time, but it was incredibly hard to look at them through the bins and work out which was juvenile and which was adult, without then losing sight of one of them. But it looks like we have 4-5 juveniles with at least one adult which is usually flying above them. The small shrubby trees, grass paths and tree guards are all very promising sites to see the juveniles. As they only truly fledged (ie left the nest tree) last Monday, they haven't yet learned to view us humans as the enemy. As they grow older and bolder over the next week or so, they will become less and less approachable.
For the last hour of my visit today, my good old birdy mate Phil arrived with his lovely lady Aniko, after I alerted him earlier that my beloved Kestrels had finally fledged and were in the meadows. Again we had great views of the juveniles hovering low, perched on the shrubs and catching insects on the grassy paths.
So did I have a good weekend at Cranford Park ?
That's a big fat 'yes'.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! My husband love wild birds very much!