Posts Tagged ‘Eltham’

This article was originally posted in 2013. I am re-posting it as an introduction to some new blogs on the interior of the Palace.

The medieval moated manor house with extensive parkland was acquired by King Edward II in 1305. In 1470 King Edward IV added the Great Hall (which survives to this day). The last monarch who regularly used Eltham Palace was King Henry VIII. Afterwards, monarchs tended to prefer Greenwich Palace, probably because of easy access along the river from central London. In the mid-17th century Sir John Shaw, who by now owned the property, decided to build a new house, Eltham Lodge, about half a mile away from the current Palace site. The Palace fell into disuse and was used as a tenanted farm. The buildings fell into disrepair and it was only following a campaign in 1828, that the Great Hall was restored to a safe condition. It continued, however, to be used as a barn for the farm.
In the 1930s Stephen and Virginia Courthold had an ‘ultramodern’ house designed in the art deco style and built adjacent to the medieval Great Hall. They also had the gardens completely redesigned. They lived here until 1944 and at that time the building passed to the Army educational unit, who used it as a college until 1992. In 1994 English Heritage, having been given management of the property, started a four-year restoration programme to restore the building to the state it had been in the 1930s. The newly restored art deco house together with the Great Hall opened to the public in 1999.

DSC01096

DSC01100

DSC01099

DSC01094

For details about visiting please go to: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/eltham-palace-and-gardens/

Great Tit

Great Tit

This month we have seen the transition from Summer into Autumn. It seems to have been a more rapid transition this year as the mild weather hung onto well into October. There has, as yet, been no large scale influx of winter birds, most likely due to the warm weather which has meant that even those that have returned are not forced to seek food around gardens, so we have yet to see the return to the patch of winter Thrushes or large numbers of parakeets, although those who have been around have managed to strip the berry bush in the garden. The algal bloom continues to persist on the Tarn and there is little sign that it is dissipating, no doubt another consequence of the mild weather. There were only 21 species of bird seen on the patch this month. There were no new species and this low total no doubt reflects the position we are in with the summer visitors having left whilst the winter visitors are yet to arrive. The total remains at 48 bird species for 2014.

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

DSCN4784a

Strangely after last month’s increase in activity it seems to have been very quiet around the patch in October. There has been no large scale influx of winter birds, most likely due to the continuing warm weather which has meant that even those that have returned are not forced to seek food around gardens. The numbers of Ring-necked Parakeets have been variable and parties in the garden have remained below 8 birds. The Little Grebe and Grey Wagtail continue to be present but there is little evidence for other water birds moving in as the algal bloom continues to persist.

DSCN4492a

DSCN4777a

DSCN4880a

There were 26 species of bird seen on the patch this month. The months highlight was undoubtedly the female House Sparrow which appeared in the garden on the 21st. This was the first patch sighting of this once common species for over 12 years. It hasn’t been seen since but maybe this is a sign that the expansion of this species that I have noticed returning to adjacent areas is continuing and that the bird will become established on my patch in the future. It is ironic that a species which many regarded as a ‘feeder pest’ when I was small should become a rarity that is only just begining to show signs of recovery. It just shows that we can be complacent when looking at trends in bird populations or take for granted even those species which see common

House Sparrow, Old Town, St Mary's

House Sparrow

Photo by Michael Day (https://www.flickr.com/photos/13706945@N00/)

This brings the patch total to 48 species for 2014.

Naturelog: Thursday 9th October

Posted: October 10, 2014 in Birds, Natural History
Tags: ,

IMG_0024a

A walk around the patch today revealed that there was not much change with the algal bloom on the Tarn although the flow from the river inlet and the action of the water pump are concentrating the bloom in the middle of the lark so at least some water can aerate.

IMG_0023a

Despite this it was good to see that the Little Grebe was still present. It has been on the Tarn now since mid-August which I think is probably the longest staying individual that I have recorded here.

DSCN4492a

Down at the eastern end by the river inlet a Grey Wagtail was actively feeding on the edge. This is the second record for the patch this autumn of this regular migrant species.

20130618115741(3)

Otherwise there were a few Mallard, Coot and Moorhens, but no geese, thess seeming to have been particularly hard hit by the avian botulism outbreak which occurred as a consequence of the algal bloom. A sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance before flying off over the golf course.

Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

It has been a difficult summer around my patch. There have been highs, but the big low has been the algal bloom on the Tarn which has resulted in the return, or probably more accurately the flourishing of avian botulism which has managed to wipe out almost the entire water-bird population.

DSC03428a

After no new bird species since May, the total finally advanced with the arrival of the first Little Grebe on the Tarn at the end of August and this now means that the total for 2014 stands at 44 species.

Butterflies and dragonflies have done better this summer around the patch. I have recorded 15 butterfly species (most ever) on the patch this year including Large Skipper in late June which was the first time I had recorded this on the patch.

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Dragonflies have been even better with 9 species including 5 first sightings for the site. These were Large Red and Common Blue damselfly; Broad Bodied Chaser; Banded Demoiselle and Common Darter.

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

 

Banded demoiselle (Taken at Sutcliffe Park LNR)

Banded demoiselle (Taken at Sutcliffe Park LNR)

 

Common Darter

Common Darter

 

So as I said a mixed bag of highs and lows. Now we wait with anticipation to see what the autumn migration has to bring.  Wonder if I can top the Wheatear that turned up in the spring?

The garden has been very quiet of late. The birds have been recovering from the breeding season and moulting their feathers so have tended to keep well hidden. The feeder station has been all-but deserted. However today there seems to be a lot more activity with Robin, Blue Tit, Dunnock and Great Tit all visiting the feeders. The Nuthatch was seen in his/her favourite trees and later one paid a brief visit to the feeders. There have also been parties of Goldfinches and Ring-necked Parakeets in the trees and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker flew through the garden in the morning.

Dunnock

Dunnock

Robin

Robin

Great Tit

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

Ring Necked Parakeet

Ring Necked Parakeet

 

A Red Fox spent some time in the afternoon nosing around the borders looking for food

Red Fox

Red Fox

Red Fox

Red Fox

Red Fox

Red Fox

A late Speckled Wood butterfly was a first record this year for the garden and a Migrant Hawker has been zooming round the trees

Speckled Wood

Speckled Wood

A lovely afternoon and so I decided to take a walk around the Tarn.

DSCN2955a

Stopping first at the small pool there is lots of activity with Azure damselflies and a few Large Red damselflies.

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Large Red Damselfly

Azure damselfly

Azure damselfly

Azure damselfly

Azure damselfly

Moving on to the main lake I can see a large dragonfly patrolling the central area. I wonder if it is an Emperor Dragonfly (annual at this site) but there is something about it which does seem right. Moving up the side I find a Broad-Bodied Chaser perched on sticks in the water.This is a first site record for me.

Black-Tailed Skimmer

Broad-Bodied Chaser

Black-tailed Skimmer

Broad-Bodied Chaser

At the eastern end I do find an Emperor patrolling, ever active – so unable to get any photos.

In contrast to the dragonflies, the butterflies have been disappointing with only a single unidentified Brown and a single speckled Wood to this point.

DSCN2834a

Returning to the small pool, I stop by the adjacent wildflower garden and my eyes are immediately drawn to a orange brown butterfly on a plant head. I take some record photos as I am really not sure of its ID. I think it might be a Skipper but which one I am not sure. (On returning home I consult my guides and plump for Large Skipper, which is confirmed by posting picture on UK Butterflies facebook site). Its a first record for me on the site and my first Large Skipper locally.

Large Skipper

Large Skipper

Birdwise, there is a new coot family of 3 chicks and the Greylag geese are growing up fast.

Coot with Young

Coot with Young

Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose

Our resident terrapin was also present sunning himself on his usual sun-bed!

DSCN2975a

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)
Large Skipper [sp] (Ochlodes venatus)

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) 1

Naturelog: Friday 18th April

Posted: April 19, 2014 in Birds, Natural History
Tags: ,

The garden has remained quiet most of the week with a noticeable drop in visits to the feeder station. However there were some highlights today. One interesting thing was these two Ring-necked Parrakeets who were doing some form of courtship which involved nuzzling and preening.

DSCN1924a

DSCN1927a

Late in the afternoon a Red Fox reappeared in the garden. This is the third time we have seen one recently and always in the same place. It keeps very much to the hedge only poking its head out to examine what is going on.

DSCN1934a

Shortly after the Fox left I noticed another of our secretive vistors around the feeder staion. Dunnocks are birds of the hedgerow and we usually see them skulking in the border hedges, but this one was happily out in the open under the feeder station no doubt finding the remains of the meals dropped from the feeders above.

DSCN1936a

DSCN1941a

Late Friday night I caught the distant calling of the Tawny Owl. We know we have a pair in the woods behind where we live and for a few years they were a regular sound but we think they must have moved their nest deeper into the woods and nearer the golf course so we don’t get to hear them so often. But it is nice to be reminded every now and again that they are still there.

Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)

A lovely sunny afternoon so went off to Sutcliffe Park LNR to look for Butterflies and perhaps some early Dragonflies (Hopefull- still a bit early by a couple of weeks).

DSC03310a

DSC03313a

The usual residents were present and a few butterflies. I noted 4 species- Large and Small White; Brimstone and Speckled Wood. All were very active. As expected there were not any dragonflies yet to be seen. Walking back to the road along the river I noticed a small warbler flitting through the bushes. After a while it perched and I could see that it was a Willow Warbler (A first for 2014 and a first for me at this site). As I was about to walk away another movement caught my eye and a Kingfisher perched in the reeds (Also a first for me at this site). It stayed or about 5 minutes before flying off, Unfortunately the position of the sun and the distance I was from the bird prevented any photos.

Moorhen

Moorhen

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Returning home I found a female Orange Tip in the garden – my first record of the year in the garden although they have been around the Tarn for some weeks now. Its been much quieter around the garden especially for the small birds. Finches have become much less frequent visitors although there was a single Goldfinch today. I imagine they are getting down to the laying and incubation of eggs.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Carduelis chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

We had an unusual daytime visitor to the garden today. We often hear our local Red Foxes at night especially when they have cubs, but it is unusual to see them foraging in the garden during daylight hours. We watched this one for sometime but of course as soon as I went to get the camera he/she decided it was time to move on and disappeared into the hedge.

DSCN1913 a

DSCN1914a

DSCN1913b