Female Common Darter Dragonfly

Female Common Darter Dragonfly
I love them.

Wingham Wildlife Park 2010

It has been over a year since we last visited Wingham Wildlife Park, but I am pleased to see that the entry price is still the same! It costs just £8.50 for adults which I think is very good value for the amount of animals and birds that are on view. And I do mean on view – unlike other places where the animal can be a small dot on the horizon, you can get up close and personal with most of the inhabitants. Please note that this article does not include any photos of the Prairie Dogs – I am saving those for an article on their own.

I am pleased to have a guest photographer on this blog article. The Missus took some great shots but, as ever, left the editing to me. In fact, it is a 50-50 split – fifteen are mine and fifteen are hers.

I started my previous article on Wingham with a picture of the Black Headed Caique, so it seems fitting to do so again as the cute little fella is still there… and making as much noise as ever. Alas, depsite the sign that clearly says ‘Do Not Pick Up This Bird’, the Chav visitor seems compelled to do so. This time it was the (potential) father of a child called Shanice. Unfortunately Chavs are allowed into Wingham, but maybe in the future they will impose a ban.

The Otters are always good value – especially when it is getting near feeding time.

The Meerkats were their usual playful and cute selves – they seem more popular than ever since the ‘Compare the Meerkat’ campaign. I somehow doubt that any money goes towards Meerkat conservation from that ad campaign, but I like to pretend it does.

If you want action don’t get your hopes up at the Terrapins. They do very little, apart from look quite interesting.

For uber cuteness,  look no further than the Marmosets. They are so into visitors! I had a nice game of peek a boo with a little one behind one of the uprights of the enclosure. It made me want to own some, though it has to be said, they stink of pee quite badly.

This Barbary Macaque looked quite mournful.

The Reptile and Tropical houses are still pretty good – a nice variety of things to see.

Tokay Gecko at Wingham

I rather like Kookaburras.

I think the Racoons are a fairly recent  addition, at least I don’t recall seeing them last time but I may well have just walked past without noticing. I find that can happen especially if there is a photo opportunity that catches my eye.

I took the fisheye lens in the hope of catching some odd animal action. I have never tried fisheye chicken and am quite pleased with how it came out.

I was pleased to see that the lake section at the top of the park has quite a few of the more exotic water birds now – and it is always good to see an East African Crowned Crane.

The Ring Tailed Lemur enclosure allows the visitor to walk through and get nice and close to the animals.

Awwwww baby Peacock.

I concluded my previous article with the following:

Wingham Wildlife Park is great. There are loads of facilities to eat and drink with a full menu on offer, at least during the summer months. There are plenty of species to see – and all are listed on their site. The price is good too. At the time of writing the entrance fee for adults is £8.50, which is considerably lower than somewhere like Howletts, which is just up the road. Whilst there may be more exotic speacies on offer there, on the whole you actually see more at Wingham and I certainly felt more engaged there as you are so close to the animals.

I see no reason to conclude this article any other way. Go visit!

Cotton Eared Marmoset

Cotton Eared Marmoset
These social animals live in groups of 4 to 15 individuals, made up of mated adults and their young. These animals have a strict social order and all will take part in raising the young, however there is no strict mating pattern in which all individuals may mate depending on their social standing. Randy little buggers.

Soldier Beetle

Soldier Beetle
The soldier beetles, Cantharidae, are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles, related to the Lampyridae or firefly family, but being unable to produce light. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One common British species is bright red, reminding people of the red coats of soldiers, hence the common name. A secondary common name is leatherwing, obtained from the texture of the wing covers.

History and Mystery at Ightham Mote

I must confess to not knowing a great deal about Ightham Mote before doing this walk. I still know very little about it at the time of writing this blog entry, suffice to say it is now a National trust property dating from 1320 with important later additions and alterations. It is a rare example of a moated medieval manor house. An exhibition depicts the largest conservation project undertaken by the Trust, which was completed in 2004. As far as this walk is concerned, Ightham Mote is only a very a small part of the route – of course one can deviate and have a proper look, but that sort of activity is out of scope for this project.

This is a middle distance walk at 3.5 miles, and is fairly flat for the most part. The few uphill climbs are not too much of a challenge for anyone of moderate fitness. Alas, I am not in that category. It is a circular walk and starts and ends in Shipbourne, which seems a nice little place.

Once past the church, the route heads out into proper Kentish countryside through rolling fields and past the odd Oast House. This is probably one of the quieter walks until the route snakes back across a main road. Much of the route follows various bits of the Green Sand Way – as do many of the other walks in this project.

As I mentioned at the start, this walk skirts past Ightham Mote, so here is the obligatory shot of it. According to the National Trust website…

Ightham Mote has many special features, including a Great Hall, crypt, Tudor chapel with a hand-painted ceiling and the apartments of the American donor Charles Henry Robinson. An enchanting feature is the Grade I-listed dog kennel, situated in the picturesque courtyard. Ightham Mote also offers lovely gardens and water features, with lakeside and woodland walks.

I have never seen a Grade I-listed dog kennel before and had I known about this beforehand, may well have decided to take a peek. Possibly.

Every walk needs a sheep shot or two.

Some sort of Pheasant I believe – I am not joking when I say that in this field there must have been forty of the little beauties. I have never seen more than one at a time before.

All in all, a nice walk. We saw some history as the title suggests but no mystery, other than the group of flies that seemed to follow us round. We had both showered before the walk so I can only assume that the Lynx Effect also works on insects.

Manners

Manners
A boy on a bike!

Bumble

Bumble
A bumblebee (also spelled as bumble bee) is any member of the bee genus Bombus, in the family Apidae. There are over 250 known species, existing primarily in the Northern Hemisphere although they are common in New Zealand and Tasmania. They are gorgeous little balls of fluff. I love bees.

Rolling

Rolling
Cats like rolling about. I kinda do too. A bit.

Mrs Duck

Mrs Duck
The Mallard, or Wild duck (Anas platyrhynchos), probably the best-known and most recognizable of all ducks, is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and sub-tropical America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand (where it is currently the most common duck species), and Australia. They go quack. Sometimes.

Teasel

Teasel
Dipsacus is a genus of flowering plant in the family Dipsacaceae. The members of this genus are known as teasel or teazel or teazle. The genus includes about 15 species of tall herbaceous biennial plants (rarely short-lived perennial plants) growing to 1-2.5 m tall, native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. The bees go mad for them.