I began this foray into the unknown with the known, New Year's Day afternoon had Debs and I visit the ethereal St.Benet's Abbey at Ludham. The site has received a Heritage lottery grant and now boasts new carpark and information boards, but most importantly a little maintenance was done on the building itself, said to be the only Abbey not to be dissolved by Henry VIII. This has to be one of my favourite places in Norfolk, and even when birds are thin on the ground as they were yesterday, one can still marvel at the ruins and enjoy the Cormorants overhead going to roost. We had 1 Barn Owl, 5 Marsh Harrier and just 6 Bewick Swans, although plenty more and a few Whoopers had been seen earlier in the day. I recommend the new website which has a wildlife sightings section. The Norfolk Archaeological Society has an excellent website, too. Importantly, the 'Birds seen at Historical Sites of Interest' list (will need to shorten that) was off to a good start.
The ruins of St.Benet's Abbey, Ludham
Today, we visited Castle Acre Priory, Castle, and Castle Rising Castle. The weather was pretty dismal, and any thoughts of stopping off for the Pallid Harrier (not seen for the last 2 days) were quickly put to bed. There were gaps in the drizzle though, and we were able to enjoy a breezy walk around the ruins of the priory. The Cluniac Monks who once lived here were well known for their luxury take on architecture, and even today this site is extremely impressive and a must visit.
The Priory ruins at Castle Acre
Some decent birds here too. Jays called from nearby woodland, Mistle Thrush and Redwing flew overhead, both Great-spotted and Green Woodpeckers called and best of all a Little Egret flew down the Nar. This river valley had been an obvious choice to settle many years ago and remains good for birds it seems. Views across the surrounding countryside were good here, and even better at the site of the castle remains on the other side of the village. Greenfinch and Chaffinch were added to the fledgling list. Our final stop for the day was Castle Rising, an imposing stone keep just north-east of King's Lynn. On a clear day, Raptor watching would be essential here and indeed the castle was once a popular hunting and hawking base for the landed gentry and visiting Kings and Queens.
A Corpol at Castle Rising
For those of you not so keen on ruins, barrows and monks, fear not, I will be back on the patch in the morning. 2015 was a record breaking year with 122 species recorded. No surprise, given this was my first complete year living on the patch itself. Happy New Year to all my reader/s, and hope to see some of you out and about in 2016.