Thursday 24 September 2015

Lincolnshire Wolds, Falconry and a Walk Along the River Witham

My daughter very kindly bought me a Falconry Experience Day for my birthday and last Tuesday I was booked in with Chris Miller Falconry near Southwell.  I set off from Grimsby about 8.00 am and was delighted to find mist hanging over the moor at Walesby Woodlands near Market Rasen.  It looked perfect against the rising sun.  The drive to Southwell went quickly and as was soon parked up at the falconry.  The day was a wonderful experience.  Chris had two Harris Hawks (more correctly bay winged hawks), a saker falcon and a saker/gyr cross and an Indian Eagle Owl.  It was fabulous to see such wonderful birds at close quarters and to experience the thrill of flying them and have them return to the hand.  Amazing.  On my way home I called in at Bardney on the River Witham to walk down to photograph Bardney Lock.  I approached once again by Nocton Fen and was delighted to see a marsh harrier hunting as well as a trio of roe deer feeding in a stubble field.  It was beautiful walking along the Water Rail Way to the lock; migrant hawker dragonflies were plentiful and the hedgerow was abundant with ripe elderberries, haws and blackberries - nature's harvest festival.  It was fascinating to see several narrow boats using the river and, as always, my mind drifted back in time to the days when I travelled on the old railway line, the train being steam hauled.  I returned home over the Wolds and revelled in the clear views and wonderful cloudscapes.

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Monday 21 September 2015

A Ten Mile Circular in the Lincolnshire Wolds from Binbrook.

Last Saturday was Jet Walk day and despite having to set to to reboil the hedgerow jam I had made the day before because it refused to set, we decided to do a long one and take a late picnic lunch.  Our starting point was Binbrook in the Lincolnshire Wolds and as we walked up the hill, south out of the village up a lane bordered by dry grasses and the attractive seed heads of scabious and knapweeds we had excellent views back down to the church and across the valley to the old airfield. Most recently home to the lightning and a second world war bomber base, it was also used to film Memphis Belle.  Once we had made our way up on to the top of the Wolds we stopped for lunch at a conveniently placed bench by an information board.  While we relaxed in the sun several people competing in the annual 'Harvest Hobble' came passed us. At one point our route took us by a string of fishing ponds; two or three for trout and a course pond stocked with carp, tench and bream.  I have to say if anything could tempt me back to fishing it would be these ponds; trout were cruising up and down like whales and were being caught what's more.  We also saw someone catch a fine common carp in the course pond.  Dragonflies were plentiful here, the most common being migrant hawkers with common darters on the wing as well.  Late season brimstone and speckled wood butterflies were also to be seen.  The badger sett here is very large and also showing signs of great activity, which was good to note.  As we continued down the valley we could hear a buzzard mewing in the distance and the flower of the day was a good crop of field pansy.  At Kirmond le Mire it was sad to see that the old farmhouse and many of the outbuildings were standing derelict and deserted.  What a shame.  At one time this was a large and attractive house but presumably it was just too large and expensive to maintain.  The old buildings have an attraction of their own and made for pleasing photographic subjects.  Jet was game to the end; a mere 10 mile walk was nothing to him.  I have to say, though, I was well ready to stop.

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Monday 14 September 2015

Easton Walled Gardens and The River Witham

For the second weekend running Heather and I visited Easton Walled Gardens in the south of Lincolnshire just off the A1 between Grantham and Stamford.  It was no hardship to make the trip twice, as the gardens are stunning.  Up to 2000 they had suffered years of neglect and were totally overgrown.  They are 400 years old and had been abandoned since 1951, when the house was demolished and have been restored to their present state over the past 14 years.  I was also interested in them as the infant River Witham flows through the grounds and this is the subject of part of my body of work for my degree course.  Just before leaving we had a ringside seat for a fly past of the last remaining Vulcan bomber as it returned to its base at Robin Hood Airport following a display in Coventry.  What a stirring sight this was, especially for me, as I grew up within 4 miles of the Vulcan base of RAF Coningsby during the 1960s.
On our way home Heather and I called in at Bardney for some more photographs of the Witham.  We left the limestone of the Lincoln Edge at the attractive village of Nocton and onto the fenland of the Witham valley through the oddly named hamlet of Wasps Nest before driving down Nocton Fen. Here we delighted in the profusion of Autumn Berries: guelder rose, hips, haws and bright scarlet rowan berries.  We also had excellent views of a hunting sparrowhawk.  Once shots of the river and Bardney sugar beet factory were in the bag we set off back to car accompanied by a pair of marsh harriers, which were quartering the fen.

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