Saturday, 30 May 2009
I took my daughter to Harewood House on Friday - Harewood House . It was a fantastic day. The Harewood estate is a beautiful place and despite the crowds there is enough space to be able to walk around and it not actually feel crowded. We went on the bus and a shuttle picks you up at the main gate. While waiting we had our first sighting of a Red Kite, flying low across the drive chased by four Crows. The Red Kites are a big draw with the success of the breeding programme the past 10 years and you are pretty much guaranteed spotting at least one while you are there. We were lucky enough to see 6 at one point flying around. They were visible all day and we got some great views of their colouring and it was quite entertaining to see Crows mobbing them more than once.
Not too close but you can see the distinctive tail shape. Below, the top birds are the crows!
There is a Bird Garden with various 'exotic' birds and a few running free too including some Guinea Fowl, Cockerels and various ducks. The flora in a lot of the aviaries is quite wild and it makes spotting some of the birds challenging but quite fun for the little one! We also saw a couple of Chaffinches, Blue Tits and Dunnocks and there is plenty of signs about the native birds too. There are also several Herons (my favourite bird) including one sat on a rather large nest in the Flamingo area.
We found a bench over looking the lake to eat our picnic, with a beautiful view of ducks and a Coot with their young and Kites and Herons flying overhead it was just great. Jackdaws were in abundance too and not at all shy, one even landed on part of the slide while all the kids were on it later. It was a very hot day but there is plenty of shade while you walk and the pathway around the lake is tree lined so quite lovely.
Alan Titchmarsh recently opened the Himalayan Gardens at the far end of the lake. Last time we visited these had just been started and the change is amazing. It was my favourite place, you enter either by a long winding path or down almost hidden steps into the most stunning flower gardens with lots of twisty paths and small waterways leading from a waterfall. I could have stayed in here all afternoon but there is only so many flowers my daughter can look at.
The best thing in here was it was perfect for the little birds, I saw my second ever Blackcap - male and female sat together in a tree! There were several Long Tailed Tits and two Chiffchaffs too! I could hear many others but didn't have chance to hang about to spot them. There are big stepping stones or a bridge to cross the water, which is quite shallow and you can see quite a lot of fish there (tip, go to the shop in the Courtyard first where you can buy a leaflet for 50p all about the gardens and flowers you find in there - worth the money!).
We did walk around the lake as far as you can. There are little posts which have plaques telling you about various trees and wildlife you might see which you can make rubbings of. My daughter found lots of different pine cones, feathers and 'fairy' cups (acorn cups!) which I ended up carrying of course.
It was a brilliant day in wonderful surroundings, if you get a chance to visit I would highly recommend it. Just leave plenty of time for the Himalayan Gardens and spotting all those wonderful little birds.