I then wandered through the vines themselves and game across a family of Goldfinches. Talking to one of the staff (who's a keen birder - great!) the Goldfinches have been nesting amongst the vines. Where the supporting wires join the wooden posts the nests have been tuck down there. At least four have been found near to the buildings. Skylarks are a common feature in the spring as are Linnets. Right at the top of the hill, I'm advised there is a colony of Green Woodpeckers - all in hiding today nonetheless!
After a walk around the vines, I went back to catch the House Martins - they all flew up together - wonderful sight and then flew off. I understand they've been there for about a month and the view was they were ready to leave. ~When I returned to that spot later - about 5 remained!!
I then paid my money and boarded the 4x4 pulled wagons for the Vineyard tour. We climbed higher and higher and looked across at Box Hill - eventually we were higher than that!
Looking at the centre of this picture is the Vineyard buildings - almost lost amongst the trees.
It was a great visit and I intend to go back earlier in the day and hopefully see the Goldfinches coming down to one of the puddles to drink. The staff outside were so friendly and keen to pass on their birding experiences of the vineyard. Thanks guys!
Today I went with a friend to Clandon Park - a house and small gardens not far from me.
The house isn't the most glamorous, but is beautifully proportioned.
Out in the grounds, is a Maori house undergoing some renovation. There is an agreement with a local Maori group that the building is to be renovated and then the Maori's will use the building for some of their ceremonies. It's the only Maori meeting house in the United Kingdom.
Hinemihi o te Ao Tawhito (Hinemihi of the Old World) is the Maori name for this meeting house. The Maori people believe it has living qualities based on their ancestral origin and so the meeting house will be referred to as a person.
This carving is around the front door.
and the carving above it.
Outside the meeting house are some Tree ferns that, sadly, seem to have died. However, they have now been "carved" which is rather a good way to decorate an otherwise defunct plant!
At the rear of Clandon House is the formal parterre garden.
And in the grounds, but accessible from the road, is the local church of St. Peter and St. Paul
We then walked through to the Dutch Garden which is based on the Privy Garden at Hampton Court Place. I can't really see the similarity but it does look similar to one of the other smaller gardens at the Palace. This is just my opinion of course.
And the only bird seen today, was this featherless Peacock. The only bird heard? A Nuthatch - a strangly quiet day for birds - but the weather was not pleasant and we had to wait for a heavy rain shower to stop before escaping from the car.
And so home again avoiding the rush hour traffic.