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Saturday, 17 May 2014

An amazing day as a volunteer at Charlecote

Setting off for Charlecote Park I was a little nervous as I was on my way to a complete new experience for me. I was going to get dressed up in the Bee Keeper's outfit and photograph the bees but what an amazing experience it was, not only did I get to take photos and record what was going on inside the hives but I also learned so much. The Volunteer Bee keepers explained all the different sections to me and showed me everything that was going on in the hives. It was really interesting and I was able to see the important bit, The Honey :)

I am pleased with some of the photos I did take that day but some I would really like to re-take as like with everything, when you are taking photos of something you haven't before, it is a learning lesson and you learn by your mistakes. To be honest you never stop learning. Click on the images to see them larger.

I think the Bees need a blog of their own .

Look at all that beautiful honey inside each of those holes.

Just out of my lovely bee keepers outfit and I headed up to West Park where the bird boxes were being checked by a lovely group of people who are responsible for checking all  in south Warwickshire. They are fully trained Volunteers Ornithologists who are members of the BTO who also hold special BTO licenses to handle and ring the birds so please never disturb nesting birds yourself . This is why I tell people never to cut their hedges at this time of year.

 I was allowed to go up a couple of ladders to take some photos inside the boxes.

                                   Inside this nest were baby 'Blue tits'

      Here are some which are very newly hatched great tits. Another egg waiting to hatch.

Now climbing up a ladder might not seem a big deal to most people but I am not a small person. I have been fighting with a thyroid problem for a few years and over the last year my weight has ballooned so climbing up a ladder was a big deal for me and the view at the bottom could not have been good but I must have done ok as they had me climbing up a double height ladder the next time and what a view. It wasn't a bird box but in the a hallow of a tree very high up. There inside at the very back of the hollow sat two very young baby Tawny Owls and another egg waiting to hatch. It was well worth the climb up. I was told that in a week or two, they would be perched near the entrance of the hole in the tree so I will keep an eye on it and try and take a photo to share at a future date.

In many of the bird boxes that were checked that day were great and blue tits at different stages. Some were very new, maybe a day old which were left inside their boxes but some were a little older so they could be ringed to keep a record. I was shown how it was done and also it was explained why what they use to ring the young chicks, doesn't hurt them at all. They have to wait until they are a certain age before ringing them as there legs will not grow any more after that age.

                                                    A Blue tit getting his tag/ring

 A Bag of Blue-tits. While they are being tagged they are carefully placed in this special bag which keeps them warm for the short time they are out of their nests.

 Again I learned so much and will keep an eye on those owls for you as well as myself :)

               I must not forget the two little baby Jackdaws.

Walking through West Park I spotted these beauties. No, not birds but another beautiful creature who will be having their own young next month. I am so looking forward to seeing the fawns. I am almost wishing time away.

I love the way this doe has her ear up listening.

And of course I had to have a quick look at how the Jacob lambs were growing while I was over there. They are starting to fill out nicely and they now look like they have little devil horns coming out of their head but very cute at the same time. They really are beautiful lambs.

   Heading back towards the main park I spotted the Herons nesting near the river. They have been there for a while but now with all the leaves on the trees, it is harder to spot them. The nests are very high so not one to check. This is the best I can do with this.

Another picture opportunity just before walking through the gates back into the main park area. A Red poll cow having a drink from the River Avon. For a little more information on these, click the link to one of my previous blogs.

                Now I am not sure if here she is licking her lips or cleaning her nose.


 The view looking back towards West Park. Everything is so green at the moment.

It was such a busy day at Charlecote but to be honest, all days are busy. There is always so much going on but often it is behind the scenes as they say but this day was different, it was everywhere I looked. The tree surgeons were back in to check one of the trees. The gardeners and volunteer gardeners were all very busy in the Woodlands and at the back of the house working on the Parterre.

                                The flowers in front of the summer house

                                    Another volunteer working in the gardens.

The woodland Garden is looking very beautiful right now, it is such a pleasure to walk through.

The gardeners and volunteers busy in the Woodland Garden.

By the time I walked around to the Parterre to see what was going on it looked like all hands on deck. Everyone was busy clearing the tulips from the beds and getting them ready for the new plants of which there were many growing very well in the potting shed and around it.

Just some of the plants waiting to be planted and the potting shed is full.

It was nearly time to go home for me but I wanted to check the buttercup meadow as it was very windy the time I had visited before and I could see the beautiful golden meadow from as far as West Park.
Finishing the day with a walk through this meadow was a perfect end to a perfect day.

If you go to Charlecote Park, you must walk through the meadow, you won't regret it. It is a typical old fashioned English scene with the beautiful Hampton Church in the background which finishes the picture of beautifully. You don't get many meadows like this any more in this country.

Heading back to the car and I was distracted yet again. This time it was by Mallard ducklings, Baby greylag geese and a nesting Swan.

                                               Greylags on the River Avon.

A Swan nesting on one of the Islands in the middle of the lake. I love my long lens.

                              Her mate not far away.

A family of Mallards also on the Lake.

The race is on! I am looking forward to Sunday which will be a different type of race going through Charlecote. A boat race which starts in Leamington Spa and ends in Stratford-Upon-Avon travelling up the River Avon.

 I nearly forgot the 'Dragon of Charlecote' Ok so it is not a Dragon but a tree but doesn't it look like one sleeping in the long grass?

This day was a very busy day but also a very beautiful day with lots of new things to see which made me appreciate nature all the more and reminded me why I fell in love with Charlecote in the first place. As I have said before, with the changing seasons there is always so much to see, the view never stays the same. Nature at its best. Who could ask for anything more? Beautiful. I hope you enjoyed my day as a volunteer at Charlecote Park and a sneak look behind the scenes. I love volunteering there and hope you enjoyed reading about it.

                           Photos Copyright Jana Eastwood


  1. A beautiful post, packed with energy & enthusiasm, & great photography as always!

  2. Thank you Gary :) It was a great day which I really enjoyed.

  3. I have a book of participant photographs from Camp Farwell 1922. Does anybody have any enthusiasm for this?