Sherwood Forest Center Parcs 2008 pt 7

It was a dry day this morning and I was in the bird feeding hide down the road before 7am. There was a fair variety, but nothing new. I had commented to Jo a couple of days ago that some of the greater spotted woodpeckers had different markings on the head; one of the woodpeckers I saw this morning had a red top of its head. It may be than this is the opposite sex to the ones we saw earlier or maybe an immature bird. I was in the hide for just over an hour and then concluded it was time to head back for a coffee; it might be a nice bright morning, but it was still chilly.

We went down to the kids ‘Forest Swings’ play area by the adventure golf this morning and played there for an hour or so. They had some fun swings and a large platform see-saw, about 20 foot long, that kids and ‘older kids’ could run from one end to the other to make it tip. After this, we popped into the Pancake House for our last pancakes here. We briefly played in the play area on the beach, before moving on; the wind was whipping the sand into our faces, so not too pleasant. We went back to the Forest Swings play area again for a while before heading back to the villa. On our way back we briefly stopped outside The Venue to look at the birds of prey. I had a session booked there in just over an hour, so was just getting my bearings and having an early look at the birds.

There were only about 9 of us on the Falconry session. We were introduced to many of the birds they had there including Billie the Common Buzzard, Romeo and Prince the Harris Hawks and Bruno the Striated Caracara and a European Eagle owl and Ferruginous Pigmy owl. There was also a barn owl and another couple that we weren’t introduced to. Billie had been hand reared and was very vocal throughout the entire time. We got to feel the reptile like skin under the eagle owl’s foot and some of the others held the pigmy owl while it was on the glove. It was a tiny bird only weighing a couple of ounces. After the introductions were over, we went over to the shed and put on gloves. We then had the opportunity to fly the Billie the Buzzard and Prince the Harris Hawks on a tether. Bruno, the Caracara was brought out and performed his trick for us. We were each given a flowerpot with a piece of chicken in and asked to put it face down in the arena, he then proceeded to run around the arena turning the pots over and eating the chicken. He got an egg as a reward, which he kicked until he broke it so that he could eat it. At the end we were able to have our photos taken with the birds; Jo was allowed to come in with her camera. I was trying to decide between the buzzard and the eagle owl, but the falconer said it would be fine if I wanted to do both. The eagle owl, although a light one only about 4 pounds, was quite heavy on my hand. Jo got some photos of me with the birds. We had a bit of a panic as we were leaving the falconry, the key snapped off on one of the old bike locks we had been using; we had a spare key, but I did wonder for a moment if I’d be able to get the remainder of the key out.

We went up to the Foresters’ Inn for some drinks and to let the kids play. After an hour or so we went back to the villa, where we realised we didn’t have any milk left. The Forest News paper indicated that the ParcMarket was open until 8pm, unfortunately this wasn’t the case.

We were back at Foresters’ Inn for our meal this evening. Unfortunately the service wasn’t up to previous standard. After being shown to our table, we had to wait about 10 minutes before the menu was brought and this was the story at each stage of the meal, after the drinks order, after the drink refills order. Jo and I had starters tonight; Jo had smoked salmon and I had a rocket,mozzarella cheese and tomato risotto. The kids ordered off the children’s menu to be served with our main course; my daughter had breaded chicken and chips as she had had each time and my son tried the sausage and mash (a smaller portion of the meal I had the other day). Jo had the braised lamb shank and I had the Supreme of chicken.

[update re woodpecker - the male greater spotted woodpecker has a black crown and red patch at the nape of the neck, the female has a black crown and nape and a juvenile has a red crown, so we have seen all three.]

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