Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton

July hasn’t been as devoid of Wild as my lack of blogs would suggest. I went on a coach trip with the RSPB Central London Local Group Sat 9th July. I had to remember to take my National Trust card on that birdwatching trip as it was to Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve and England’s most famous fen.

There’s also been some pretty “wild” work continuing to prepare programme, documents and website for the new Marylebone Birdwatching Society season which starts in September. 2nd July I went to the Mall Galleries for the last day of the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition. And 5th July I went on the MBS Tuesday Heath Walk all the way to Kenwood for a change.

But this blog is about another coach outing with the National Trust Hampstead Centre. Yesterday, hottest day of the year, there were only 19 of us on the trip to Packwood House and Baddesley Clinton. I was on the previous trip to these 2 houses, apparently in 2013, but I couldn’t find any evidence of the date or any pictures in my archives. And, while there, had only fleeting memories of one room in each house, the Yews at Packwood and the Barn Restaurant at Baddesley Clinton. On that earlier visit there’d been no possibility of lunch at Packwood House so I think we’d had a rather rushed visit before getting to Baddesley Clinton for a late lunch … though I think I must have had a picnic lunch with me and just used the restaurant for a cuppa and cake before leaving.

On this occasion, the journey again took us longer than expected so we arrived lunchtime rather than coffee time! Instead of all getting 12 noon timed tickets we were offered a choice of 12 or 1pm. I chose the latter and went straight into the “New Build” reception and restaurant on the car park side of the road. After lunch, I had time to walk round the Kitchen Garden before going across the road to the House and Gardens.

I only spent half an hour in the house preferring to spend my time outside. No time for the longer walk round the estate but I was able to do the Lakeside Walk, follow the Nature Trail and walk through some Meadowland. I found 2 Follies and now see that I missed the Hive… don’t know where that was hiding.

My featured image shows that I was able to find a quiet wild track away, however briefly, from the many visitors and picnickers in the grounds.

2.30pm we were back on the bus for the short ride to Baddesley Clinton. I again spent only half an hour or so in the house. I was about to emerge when 2 people from our coach party, knowing my interest in birds, asked whether I’d seen the Swallow’s nest. I hadn’t. I looked up in the archway but all I could say was evidence of old nests all along one beam and a couple of old empty nests. But fortunately my friends came out and pointed to a closer beam… and a parent bird flew in and then a second. Four little beaks poked out from the nest. Didn’t manage to get a photo of the parents on that visit but I waited… Photos not brilliant but it’s the closest I’ve ever got to a Swallow’s nest.

The Swallow was definitely the bird of the day. I’d also got quite excited about seeing a Grey Wagtail on the roof of the house at Baddesley Clinton. But I doubted my ID later when I saw an adult Pied Wagtail with 2 youngsters on the lawn. Also saw Robin, Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Chaffinch, Mallard and Canada Geese… and heard Wren and Goldfinch. And I’d seen Starlings and House Sparrows at the Oxford Services when we made a 15 minute stop there on the way.

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