All the latest news & events from the garden and the National Trust in Bath


Rain, Valentin and Rabbits

What with the relatively good weather we have been having recently, and the fact that everything is growing at an alarming rate, I have neglected my Blog duties.  Not much has happened since the grand opening of the Children’s Natural Play Area except the grass, trees  and weeds have grown before our very eyes. This means we have been spending all our time mowing, weeding and pruning. I am almost glad it is raining at the moment to give us a break.

We are very lucky that we have an extra pair of hands to help us for the next 3 weeks. Valentin is a student from the Maison Familiale Horticole Mareuil-sur-Lay. He is over here with fellow students from the College working in various gardens and with commercial gardeners. In my experience they are all very good workers and Valentin is no exception.

Valentin having just finished working in the rain, something he might have to get used to!

Over the years I have been trying to take photos of  the many and varied wildlife in and around the park, but never managed to get a Rabbit. Until now, here you can see one of the Bunnies as bold as brass very near to our Work area. Lets hope we are not overrun in the future.

Where there is one Rabbit ………..!

Update, natural play and bird boxes

A couple of quick updates on our nesting birds (or lack of them!). At the present none of our nest boxes are occupied and our swans are barely occupying their nest. We do not hold out much hope for the cygnets this year.

On a brighter note we have almost completed phase 2 of the Natural Play area, work will continue over the next week or so before it is all finished but it is starting to look really good.

The Natural play area is growing!

Another day at the office

Some days are not as typical as others. Today was one of those. Here is a quick resume of my day, After the usual unlocking, checking of emails etc. I had a meeting with Matthew and Rob, Head Gardener and Head Ranger of Bath and South Cotswolds respectively about creating a Natural Play area in the Park. Some good ideas were bounced around, some even landed.

Then it was on to making some benches to be installed by our new path in the Wilderness. This involved sawing up the wood, and metal bolts, before bolting  parts of them together. The construction of these kits took most of the day but was in dispersed with others things, such as putting up signs to stop visitors going the wrong way by the Summerhouse and ending up sliding down the hill. Fixing a new(temporary) sign near the bird feeders, Loading up wood for our Volunteers to split into logs tomorrow. I also had to devise and write a big long list of other tasks for the volunteers to do tomorrow. Of course as with life nothing is simple and there was a multitude of other little interruptions and disruptions before I finally got the benches done. Now all we have to do is install them, but then that’s another day.

The finished Bench Kits waiting to be installed, surprising it took me so long really!

Rain, Rain and plenty of birds

The interpretation near the bird feeders

It seems to have rained hard all day. This can be immensely frustrating when there are plenty of things to do outside. Sometimes though it is counter productive mucking about in the mud! So with that in mind I spent the day indoors updating our Bird guide posters that we have around the Tea Kiosk area. These are used to inform the visitors of the birds they are likely to see while sitting drinking their coffee. We hope sometime soon to improve the interpretation around the cafe area and these will be central to that.

The panel overlooking the lakes

Cascade landscaping

One of the final pieces of our New cascade jigsaw have been put into place. Barry, our man with a digger, has done a brilliant job of landscaping the area around our New Gothic Temple Cascade. With in minutes he magically transformed the area from a building site to a great landscape. Now all we need is the Gothic Temple back! The new path to the Gothic Temple site should be complete within a week. It’s worth a visit.

By the way, if you are in the area tomorrow (Thursday 15 March) come along and help plant some Snowdrops, the more the merrier.

The Cascade area before the landscaping

The area after Barry had done his magic

Nesting swans

Once again our Mute swans are feeling broody. Nest rebuilding has begun in earnest with the female (pen) avidly collecting nesting material from the adjacent bank. This rebuilding will be a continuous business from now until the cygnets have flown the nest. Our Swans have proved, in the past, to be very house proud, and very good parents! We will keep you posted.

The Pen (female) Mute swan rebuilding her nest

The (Small) Big Bird Day

We had our Big Bird Day here in the Park today. While we did not have huge numbers of people or birds great fun was had by all. The splendid people from the RSPB were in attendance. They gave great advice to a lot of budding young ornithologists who went away even more enthusiastic than when they came. These same young ornithologists managed to see the likes of Goldcrests and Dunnocks. Here is the full list of birds seen:

Blackbird, Black-headed gull, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Carrion crow, Chaffinch, Coal tit, Coot, Cormorant, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Great tit, Grey heron, Herring gull, Little grebe, Long-tailed tit, Magpie, Mallard, Marsh tit, Moorhen,  Mute swan, Nuthatch, Raven, Robin, Song thrush, Woodpigeon.

A total of 27 different species of bird. Let us know if you spot any others!

You can see Black-headed gull, Marsh tit and Coot in the pictures below

Big Bird Day

Don’t forget tomorrow, Wednesday 15th February, is our big bird day. Come and see and learn about the birds we have at Prior Park. You will be able to walk around the park with members of the RSPB spotting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Also why not adopt one of our many a nesting boxes around the gardens. While you are at it,

One of the many birds you might see here on Wednesday

you will be able to see our newly crowned champion tree, a Norway Maple that is now officially the tallest Norway Maple in the country.

Snowdrops and a Blue tit

Just a reminder that our Snowdrops should be looking pretty good this next week, once we have got over the cold snap. They were looking a little sad in the deep frost this morning but soon perked up in the sun. The cold weather has also meant that our bird feeders have been over run with birds. In five minutes we had numerous Great and Blue tits visiting together with Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Robin and Coal tits.

One of our many visitors

Snowdrops basking in the sun

Raven mob rule

What wonderful weather we have today, crisp, cold and clear. All is well with the world, except for one of our resident Buzzards. It was getting continually mobbed by one of the local Ravens. Time after time they could be seen above the park whirling around each other, both calling in anger and defence. With the Buzzard eventually buzzing off for a bit of peace and quiet.

The Raven mobbing a Buzzard earlier this morning.

Falling out over Prior Park