Location : The grounds of Hardwick Hall
Date : 11th of December 2022
Attendess - Lynne, Clare and Paul
Species seen and heard - 33 (see full list below)
The grounds of Hardwick Hall are familiar to many people who take walk their dogs here or have family walks on a Sunday after lunch. There is much more to this place than that. The grounds are managed well, and in very wildlife friendly way. This means it’s a great place to see some wonderful birds.
We met up at 8 a.m., the air was crisp with a very light breeze and a heavy fog. As we arrived by the Great Pond we couldn’t see the Hall for the fog, and the water was frozen over, bar a couple of pools that had opened up. These thawed areas meant a concentration of water birds, Coots, Mallard, Gadwall, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Wigeon.
We then walk counter clockwise around the pond and through woodland on the way up the hill to the Hall. Here we saw Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit and a lovely flock of Long-tailed Tit, such charming birds that make an unmistakable noise on arrival. A Goldcrest made a quick appearance too as it followed the tit flock through the canopy. A single Little Grebe was diving in a spot of open water. Over head we could hear a Buzzard, but we couldn’t see the bird through the trees and fog. Paul spotted a Grey Heron flying over head that then landed just out of view.
Then past the Hall towards Lady Spencer’s Wood where we added Nuthatch, treecreeper, Jay, Jackdaw and heard a Green Woodpecker yaffleing from trees below. We failed to find the Green Woodpecker but did get to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker as well as a good number of Redwing.
As we exited the woodland and made our way through open grassland we saw a single Mistle thrush in the field, a few carrion Crow could be seen too. Coal Tit had been illusive upto this point but we found one feeding with some Great Tits. We made our way back toward the cars via a walk around Miller’s Pond. This too was frozen over with just Mute Swan t added to out list for the day.
We had been walking for 4 ½ hours and covered over 8Km, seen 31 species and heard another 2.
The fog, although limiting our vision, had added to the walk as the vistas were incredible. It is a wonderful time of year to venture out, frozen frosty ground, cool clear air and a light covering of snow in places made for a fantastic morning with some nice birds too.