Monday, 27 April 2015

Sunshine continues...

Identifying weeds
Mr Fisher and his green-fingered class from Burnham Market Primary School spent a gloriously sunny day working extremely hard in the Walled Gardens. Two gigantic pumpkin pits were dug, ready for filling with lovely manure. The children will then attempt to grow some truly world record breaking pumpkins from seeds specially sourced by Dene, our Head of Parks and Gardens. As well as lots of important weeding, the pupils also riddled an enormous amount of top soil (two trailer loads!) which Dene took off to the soil steriliser. This will all be sterilised, to get rid of any unwanted pests or bacteria, and will then be used for potting on this year’s tomatoes.

After a well-earned lunch and drinks break, the children learnt about the newly planted vineyard, had a guided tour of the glasshouses to see the plants they will be using in the winning flower bed designs this year and collected, sniffed and sampled an array of delicious herbs from the herb garden.

Salts Hole saline lagoon overlooking the grazing marsh and reed bed
With yet more sunshine blazing down on Holkham, the guided walk on the nature reserve proved very popular and extremely rewarding. The beautiful Barn Owl that entertained us at the meeting point was a good omen as the birds and butterflies enjoyed entertaining us every step along the way. Temperatures have risen and been maintained sufficiently for Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Brimstone butterflies to all be on the wing, as well as a vibrant Cinnabar moth. Raptors were also out in numbers, with a single Red Kite, numerous Marsh Harriers and Buzzards and a determined Kestrel all seen.

The Spring migrants have also arrived in numbers, with multiple Chiff Chaff, Willow Warblers, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat all active and vocal. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling loudly by the George Washington hide – but, as so often is the case, remained completely hidden from view. Another highlight was several of Holkham’s fantastic Spoonbills, seen keeping company with the Cormorants, Avocets and Shelduck. We finished the walk with a stroll along the beach, which looked as stunning as ever. For more information on our monthly Guided Walks please click here

Will Clennell, Education Coordinator

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Spring visits

Holkham Lake
Last week the giant Easter bunnies and painted eggs were replaced with visiting school groups as the summer term started full swing. Docking Primary School brought their whole school (120 students) to explore our woodland area and investigate the wildlife around the lake as part of their science topic. They had a fantastic visit including making mini-dens, hunting for all sorts of minibeasts and learning the tricky art of identifying trees without their leaves on.

Household chores
Whilst waiting outside Holkham Hall for Holly Meadows Primary School to arrive I saw my first swallows of the year. Amazingly they looked fresh and full of energy, despite flying from South Africa – the swallows that is, the students came by coach from Pott Row near King's Lynn. We had lots of fun exploring the Hall and after all the chores were completed in our Victorian kitchen, the group headed to our newly extended woodland play area to run off some steam. In the afternoon sunshine we played with lots of different toys and games from the Victorian era including skipping, hula hoops, cup and balls, marbles and yo-yos.

Sue Penlington, Education Officer

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Our farming story

Fendt 828 with dual wheels, used by our farming team

Excitingly we have expanded our school visits programme to include trailer tours and den building as we continue to reconnect our youngsters in the natural environment around them. Given Holkham’s agricultural heritage it will be a privilege to share our farming story with visiting school groups. Plus I do have a personal fascination with large machinery! 

There’s quite a lot of variety to my role and that’s an element of my job which I really enjoy  – hopefully reading this blog will give you a snapshot of our work throughout the year. On one day I might be leading a group of primary school children on an interactive session in Holkham Hall and the next I can be leading a group of adults on a guided walk on the National Nature Reserve. Which do I prefer to do? You’ll have to follow my posts and see if you can work it out!