Holidays In Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire
Michael, who has worked on the farmfor 20 years, is a fanatical birder. He will be able to give lots of advice as to what can be seen on the farm and nearby.
The headquarters of the RSPB are at Sandy Lodge in Bedfordshire, about half an hour away. A good website that tells you what is happening locally is run by The Northamptonshire Bird Club. It will tell you what has been seen recently and where. Another good local site is run by photographer Richard Bedford and has lots of links.
Definitely neither an exhaustive list nor a promise as to what you will see, these are birds that Michael has seen in the last couple of years;
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Neither I nor the spellcheck in the computer is an ornithologist so please don't email me in triumph pointing out my errors! You may be surprised to see Osprey and Red Kite listed. The former nest in Thrapston and overfly the farm occasionally but the latter are around in large numbers. I was surprised in the farmyard recently to find one feeding and we regularly see groups of up to seven birds.
Graham, who built the buildings, has seen some things which suggest either extreme fortune or a fisherman's optimism but I am sure he will tell you about the Eagle Owl and many other species he saw during construction. However, we have a house rule; official spots are made by Michael only. In fact, we have had a guest who also claims to have seen an Eagle Owl so pressure is on for our official spotter to find one.
But there are always surprises. We commissioned a study of the wildlife on the farm for some long forgotten EEC analysis which was memorable for two reasons. The first was that when the inspector got to the unconverted and nearly falling down barns that are now Nene Valley Cottages, there, grazing in a clearing, was a herd of Roe Deer that none of us had seen before. They still live round here and seem to be breeding.
The other truly astonishing outcome of the report was that we were told that an analysis of the variation of trees on one part of the farm proved that this woodland dated back to the 15th century. Curious, we followed this up and it seems that there are rules of thumb which work in a similar way to those that age hedgerows by the number of species in a 100 yard stretch. The poor fellow should have spotted the schoolboy error when he identified the site of this wood as being in 'the cutting'. This is a railway cutting from the old Oundle to Thrapston line that we had cleared of undergrowth due to rabbit infestation and replanted with whips in tubes. They were still in their plastic tubes when he came but the species had been meticulously identified and the results fed into the model which, hey presto, tells you that Shakespeare could have wandered under those trees. Breathtaking.