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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Lunar Eclipse Super Moon over Warwickshire

For the first time in 33 years, on Sunday the 27th of September through to the morning of the 28th, we had a Lunar Eclipse Super Moon, A Blood Moon. The Blood Moon coincided with the same time of the year when the Moon looks at it's biggest. The Harvest Moon. This will not be seen again until the year 2033. 
Many people like myself, stayed up through the night to watch this amazing event. For those who missed it and for those who didn't. Here are some of my photos from that night, taken under the beautiful clear Warwickshire sky. Hope you enjoy them.

If you click on the next image it will enlarge and you will be able to see the changing moon through the night in one photo.

Thanks for reading my blog. Hope you enjoyed looking at the photos.

Copyright Jana Eastwood

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Charlecote's August and September Park and Garden Catch-Up

It's been a busy couple of months at Charlecote Park. So much has happened so I thought I would do a little 'catch-up' blog today starting with the deer. Over the Summer there have been many very cute little fawns born, The first one I managed to photograph was the beautiful melanistic (chocolate/black) fawn on Camp Ground. Since then, many have been spotted all around West Park.

                                                Have you seen them run?

They move so quickly and I love watching the 'deer bounce'. If you have ever seen deer run, you will know why I call it the 'deer bounce'. Here are just a few of the fawns I have managed to photograph this year.

My favourite fawn picture this year. It was taken just as the Sun was coming down.

Fawns are no different to young children in many ways, they love nothing better than running around with their little friends. 

A new fawn learning about nature and the World around it.

The Does are not the only ones who have been busy the last month or two. Over in Main Park, the Bucks have been growing back their magnificent crowns. Back in April and May the Bucks started to lose their antlers.

During May and June you could see the antlers growing back and as you walked around the park, you could see them in different stages of growth.

                When new antlers grow back, they have a velvet covering,

The velvet sheds through August and it can look a little disturbing to those who haven't seen it before but it is a perfectly normal part of the natural cycle of the Fallow Deer Buck. 

Underneath the velvet you will see the new harder antlers, ready for the new rutting season. Each year the antlers will grow bigger and bigger and some of the bucks really do have a glorious crown on their heads.

Watching the Bucks over the last week or two, I have a feeling rutting season will start a little earlier this year. There are already noticeable changes and they are happening very quickly this year. The Bucks and Does don't mix throughout the year much at all but just before the rut they start to mingle and more and more of the bucks will head into West Park where most of the females are. 

Usually you see the Bucks taking things easy, either eating or lying around but at this time of year all that changes. They now stand tall and on guard. They are filling out quickly, their coats are starting to change, necks are getting thicker and they stand so straight and proud. I do love the start of the rut and watching the bucks grow stronger and stronger. 

At the moment the Lime Avenue in West Park and the Orchard are off limits to the visitors to allow  the deer a little more space but also because a little repair work needs to be done to save some of magnificent old trees.

This has worked out really well as now, from the main park, you can watch the deer in the Orchard and all along the embankment including this year's fawns. The Bucks in the Orchard are stealing the apples to help fatten themselves up for the coming rut. Because you have the River Dene lying between you and the deer, they are not running away and you can see them so much better. Before when the Orchard was open to the visitors, it wasn't until later in the day, after West Park was closed, that the deer would come into the open as they are doing now.

Yes you can often see the Bucks walking around Main Park but not the does and fawns. Yesterday I watched as people lined up by the River Dene were given an excellent display by a couple of Bucks standing on their back legs trying to pick the apples. 

I don't have any photos of this, sorry as I was enjoying the display myself  from a distance and also watching the visitors reactions to it and everyone loved it :) The Bucks will grab a branch and as they let it go, the apples fall to the ground and lunch is served!  These deer are not daft!

Elsewhere in the Park you can see the Jacob sheep in the Meadow. The Lambs have grown very well and fattened up nicely. Some have gone to market and some have been kept. Which reminds me.....There are more plug plants arriving on the 24th of this month so if anyone wants to help plant them? Contact Charlecote as I am sure Adam the ranger will be happy to receive some helping hands.

There is lots of Wildlife around the park and the lake is a lovely place to relax and watch the birds come to you. I was sat on the grass watching a family of Moorhens on one of the islands in the middle of the lake when I was given a beautiful Swan lake performance. The only thing missing was the music! 

                              It wasn't long before the ducks joined in!

One of our resident Herons has taken a shine to the lake this year and it can seen often in the lake or on one of the tall trees in the area. 

The heron flying over the lake.

The birds on the lake gave me the first chance to try out my new camera and to see how fast it really was. I love the action shots of the heron in flight.

All in all I had a great show put on for me at the lake which I loved and the view from the lake towards the gatehouse is also stunning and well worth the walk.

 You can sometimes see an Egret which has not allowed me to get close enough to take a proper picture, even with my long lens but it can bee seen sometimes early morning or as the evening closes in on the lake or on the Avon. It has been visiting Charlecote for 11 years now. I once saw it close up on the River Avon but I was travelling light that day and only had a short lens on me.

While in Hill Park on the far side of the lake, take a look at some of the stunning trees there. They are so easily missed by many when looking for the deer. The trees are also changing now and many have fruit that is close to being ripe.

The Walnut tree in hill Park is doing really well this year.

As Charlecote Park is a Deer Park, there is always a competition as to 'who' gets to the nuts first.

It is the same problem in the Orchard but the deer are filling up as they need all their strength for the rut.

Apples in the garden which deer can not get to!

The Orchard.

Birds of prey.
We have a family or two of Kestrels which can be seen across the River Avon on Camp Ground . Their young have been practicing their hunting skills. They have also been seen around the avenue in front of the house so keep your eyes peeled, as they say. 

The Barn Owlets have fledged now and are on adventures discovering their surroundings.

There are a family of  Buzzards which can be seen and heard flying over West Park. You can't miss their call.

There are many more Birds of Prey and as the early evenings set in, I am hoping to get more on camera to share with you.

Here is the bird chart for around the park. One of the National Trust '50 things to do before you're 11 3/4'. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

I have been watching many bird families as they grow. One of those families has been the Swans who live in the sanctuary. If you read my blog regularly, you might remember this family below.

 The signets have now grown, this next photo was taken a couple of weeks ago.

                                                And this photo was taken last week.

A familiar sight at this time of year.

Here is a little video for you. Migrating birds resting on the roof of Charlecote House this week. I guess they wanted to take in the magnificent views before heading south.

A couple of stills from the video.

The new bird watching area in the Spinney has been a great success and you can watch lots of garden variety birds from within the hide, plus a few extra.

I grabbed myself a drink and sat in the hide for about an hour. This is just a small selection of what I saw. Missing from these pictures is a Greater Spotted Woodpecker which I didn't manage to get on camera.....this time! 

The chart you will find inside the hide to help you identify what you see. I don't think I did too bad at all! Must get my stickers:)

Goldfinch family.

Blue tits

The Nuthatch

The birds were loving the new pond. 'The Grey Wagtail'. 

A cheeky Squirrel trying to steal the nuts but on this occasion, luck was not on his side!

The Gardens

The gardens always look stunning and I love the way they change through September. They are well worth a walk around them as there is so much to see. Here is just a small preview.

                                         The Tea Garden is buzzing with wildlife.

Gaura 'Passionate Pink'

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

 It's always worth taking a look in the little garden area behind the Summer House. It might be a small area but there is plenty to see.

 The Lavender along one side of the croquet lawn is doing really well at the moment and the smell, well, what can I say, it smells amazing!

The perfect Cosmos flower.

Golden Rod

The Long border looking stunning and still full of colour.

'Cleome Hassleraine also known as the Spider flower.

The 'Black-eyed Susan'

'Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

'Hattie's Pincushion'

The Creamy Vanilla African Marigolds displayed perfectly withing the Parterre.    

I love the Woodland Garden at this time of year,it takes on a life of it's own, a kind of organised wildness. 

Here is the 'Anemone x hybrida 'September charm' 

You can find all sorts of wonderful plants and flowers.

 I love the gardens in September as they start to change again and just as you think the Summer displays are over, up pop more vibrant colours to brighten your day.

 We have had lots of different butterflies visit the gardens which has been brilliant for the 'Big butterfly count'.

There are a few subtle Autumn changes to be seen in the park already. Leaves are starting to change and some amazing fungi can be found around the base of some old trees.

Here is a link to a list of 'Common British fungi to help you identify what you find

This next selection was found in West Park close to the slaughter Bridge.

Changing colours.
the colours are starting to change this around the park already. I am hoping for another gorgeous display this year as we had last year.

I did say this was a catch up blog so I knew it would be a long blog but I didn't realise it would be this long . Apologies all round for the length but if you have read it all, thank you. I hoped you enjoyed it.
With the Rutting Season close at hand and Halloween coming soon too. Keep an eye on Charlecote's events page both on the web and on Facebook.
Here are the links...

Jana Eastwood.