A Day at Chatsworth

29 July 2020

Last weekend my lovely friend and her boyfriend took me to visit Chatsworth grounds for a walk beside the river and a picnic. It's been a while since I last visited Chatsworth, I've been inside the gardens a few times but had never been walking around the grounds beside the river. It's free of entry to walk around the grounds and only £4 for parking when you book online in advance. It's been while since I last ventured futher away from home and oh how I needed it. On the way to Chatsworth it was so nice to see the little stone cottages amongst the villages in the Peak District and to see the rolling hills painted in a luscious green. 

When we reached Chatsworth, we could see the house looking grand as always in the distance over the river. We took a walk towards the house, following the river on our right hand side. There were sheep everywhere, enjoying the sunshine after a downpour of rain and in the distance on the other side of the river you could see a herd of female deer with their young. Walking beside the water I could see what I think were sand martins, swooping overhead and down towards the water. We watched them swoop in and out of the holes made in the sand of the bank and fly down towards the rippling water. 

We spotted a heron standing proud in the water and looking out for fish. Little did we know that there was a kingfisher perched on a broken tree branch behind the heron. It wasn't until the next day when I was editing my photos, when I spotted the kingfisher in the photo I had taken of the heron. After eating our lunch in the sunshine, we walked down to the river where foxgloves and thistles swayed in the gentle breeze and sat down to watch the ducks swimming in the water. We spotted a grey and yellow bird beside the water that we couldn't identify at the time, but I searched it on the RSPB bird finder and turns out it was a grey wagtail.

I couldn't believe how much wildlife we saw whilst walking around the grounds of Chatsworth. I never knew it would be bursting with so much wildlife. It's amazing what you might come across when out in nature. I'm looking forward to getting back to Chatsworth again to visit the house and gardens too and who knows, we might just spot that kingfisher again!

A Visitor at the Pond

20 July 2020

Throughout this spring and summer I have been finding many different ways to attract more wildlife in the garden and to do my part for nature. I've always enjoyed helping wildlife, since I was young, always looking out for different species of wildlife that came into the garden. I had always wanted to build a mini pond in the garden and so after seeing plenty of ideas on BBC Spring Watch and Gardener's World, I decided to have a go at building one myself.

As we have quite a small garden my mum suggested that instead of digging a pond into the ground, I make a mini pond to sit in the border amongst the plants. So I purchased a half barrel planter online which turned out to be the perfect size to sit in the border. Next up on my to-do list was to gather my pond plants. I bought an oxygenating plant called a red stemmed parrot feather, which sits at the bottom of the barrel submerged under the water and two plants that aren't completely under water, a water iris, a mini reed plant and not to mention a water lettuce which is by far my favourite!

After gathering all the plants I needed to start with, I then placed two bricks inside the barrel to create a ledge for my reed and iris. I placed another brick with a large rock placed on top, should any wildlife need to climb out and then placed some smaller stones at the bottom of the barrel around the bricks. Once I was happy with where everything was placed, I filled up the barrel with water from the tap outside. I've heard that it's best to fill up with rain water but our water butt seems to have a hole in it so I stuck with water from the outside tap. Once filled up I then placed the pond lettuce on top to float around the barrel. Around the outside of the barrel I made stepping stones up towards the barrel for wildlife and planted some flowers around the side of the barrel for more cover. 

Each day I've been checking the pond to see if any wildlife has visited and last weekend, after planting some new flowers around the pond for extra cover, I spotted something behind the reed plant. I looked closely and to my surprise there was a common frog! I've only had my pond for a week and never would I ever had thought I'd see a frog in my pond so quickly. I stayed outside in the garden for most of the day, watching the frog as it swam around the pond and rest upon the rocks that I built up in the pond. It's warmed my heart knowing that something I've built has made wildlife happy.

If you'd like to have a go at making your own mini wildlife pond you can check out these sites I found very helpful when creating my pond:

The Wildlife Trust
Gardener's World