Thursday, 18 June 2015

The birds and animals of Manor Farm

 This blog is just photos of a place I visited in the village I was brought up in, and where my parents have lived for over fifty years.
The village is East Leake in Leicestershire. It's one of those villages that has everything. Shops, doctors, vets, schools, housing estates, more housing estates, even more housing estates. Yes, a lot of new houses get built here, probably because East Leake is surrounded by oh-so-pretty villages where you never see a sole. You know the ones. No shops, no doctors, no vets, no housing estates, just flash houses belonging to city commuters, and maybe a gastro pub if you're lucky.

Well, East Leake has something extra it didn't have when I lived there. It has a place called Manor Farm, which is a family park with animals to ride, pet, stroke, talk to or just quietly observe.
The animals and birds have all been rescued from bad pasts, and now receive with all the care and attention they deserve. They have wide open spaces, and all have comfy stables or hutches or coops to bed down in at the end of the day.

Manor Farm has been open for over 10 years, but I have never been there thinking it was just for children, but last week when I was visiting my parents I was a bit bored. It was too hot to go out in the car, so I walked up to the farm. It was a week day during term time, so I thought there wouldn't be many visitors.
I don't think they get many single adults, but I had my camera with me and explained I was at a loose end and wanted to have a look round, so I was made welcome and given a little guide map.

There were small groups of very young children from local pre-schools and nurseries, but they didn't walk round the nature trail and I soon found myself in a lovely, quiet place surrounded by bird song and butterflies.......and pigs!


The deserted playground.

There were goats to be scratched and donkeys to have their ears rubbed.....

Not to mention some very hot ducks and chickens.....

It was hot. There was a cafe, but my parents' house is five minutes away, so I considered leaving when I realised I had not seen the owls. The owl sanctuary was back down a hill I had just walked up, and for a minute I thought, shall I bother?

I am so glad I did. The owls were stunning. I just missed a noisy group of children, who didn't bother the owls at all, so I was free to wander round and read all about each one. It was quite upsetting to learn that people actually think they can keep enormous birds of prey as pets, and when they loose control of the owls they resort to bullying them with brute force. One large owl had been kept in a rabbit hutch for years. Others hardly dare leave their wooden dens, but the skill and patience of the staff had paid off and they were all improving. There was a staff member there I spoke to. She was hosing down the large enclosures to keep the birds cool, talking to them all the time, reassuring one female eagle owl that she was not going to hurt her.
She told me some of the owls are much more confident than others. Some have been well looked after, but their owners just could not cope. Some had been allowed to fly regularly and still do. Others are just too scared and can only manage to fly in the safety of their aviaries.

These two below were the only ones sharing an aviary. All the other owls can see each other, though.

 This little chap never took his eyes off me, even ducking his head when the branch got in the way.

How amazing is this?



This one below was super-confident, showing off right next to the visitors and hooting away at them!

This fluffy little bird had plenty of high branches but chose a low one right next to the wire. He looked like he was pretending to be asleep!

This bird was amazing. Some children mistake him for a penguin! He watched all the children closely, and had a lovely, deep hoot.

I left feeling grateful that this place is giving these birds and animals a second chance in life. There were lots of staff on hand to share experiences with children of all ages and adults too, and it was not commercial. No in your face gift shops to distract children away from what matters.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sun at last!

Today felt like the day we should be having in June. Sunny, with blue skies and warm. Still a bit of a cool breeze, but over all much better than recently, when we seem to get one fairly good day followed by wind and rain. I have this amazing display of poppies for the first time. The seed pod came from a display of dried seed pods and grasses I had for years. They suddenly looked dusty and old, so I went to throw them out last year but the poppy heads still had lots of seeds inside, so I scattered them about and forgot about them.

Spot The Cat (Smudge)

 We have blue tits feeding their young. The nest is in a split in the apple tree, and we don't know how deep down it goes. The parents seem to have been feeding them for ages, and we are beginning to worry that they can actually get out of their deep and narrow nest.

 Whiskers sharing any form of sleeping arrangement with any other cat is always worthy of a photo!

Aquilegias, my favourite flowers! Lots this year, attracting dozens of tiny bumble bees.

We went a walk along the estuary, and the resident pair of swans displayed this years' offspring. Five this year! Last year it was one, they year before four, and the year before that five. More photos to follow from my second camera I have in the car.