Where East Meets West – Part 9

There’s been a bit of a hiatus in the Meridian project – due to life getting in the way…. Unfortunately I missed all the lovely days that came in February, but I did manage to get out and explore a little more of the area just North of Boston.

I intended to visit Stickney

The place-name ‘Stickney’ is first attested in the Domesday book of 1086, where it appears as Stichenai. The name means ‘stick island’, and is thought to refer to the linear shape of the village between two streams. The nearby village of Stickford similarly means ‘stick ford’.

Stickney has been chiefly an agricultural community. The ancient 13th-century Anglican parish church is dedicated to Saint Luke and is a Grade II listed building. The parish dates to 1564 . A new chancel was built in 1853 and the rest of the church was restored in 1855. The tower was partly taken down in 1887 because of deterioration, but rebuilt in 1900.

Donations to the poor house and for care of the poor have been recorded since 1552 when William Hardy left a yearly rent charge of £1 6s. 8d. for the poor of the parish.

Stickney was the home of Priscilla Biggadike, who in 1868 was charged and convicted of murdering her husband Richard by arsenic poisoning. They lived in a small two-room house with their five children and two lodgers. She testified that she had seen one of their lodgers, Thomas Proctor, putting a white powder into her husband’s tea, and later into his medicine when Richard was being treated for a sudden attack of severe illness.

At first, the two were both suspects, as they were rumoured to be having an affair. The judge in the case ruled that only Priscilla Biggadike should be prosecuted, and the jury quickly convicted her. She was executed in December 1868. Years later on his deathbed, Proctor confessed to sole responsibility for the murder of Richard Biggadike.

I’ve not got photographs yet of the village itself.  That’s for another visit.

However, it’s amazing what you can find whilst just driving around.  I saw the sign for the Ark Wildlife park, and almost overshot it.  A bit of gentle reversing found me turning into the place and in the end staying for a couple of hours.  I would actually have stayed much longer, but the day was coming to an end, and frankly it was bitter cold.

To add to the difficulty, they had just had a power cut, and so couldn’t serve hot drinks, or even offer change from the till.  Good job I happened to have the right entry feee.

(http://arkwildlifepark.co.uk/)

The ARK is home to a wide variety of captivating animals, from exotic mammals and fearsome carnivores to stunning reptiles and some less exotic  and more farm like creatures.

Included in the collection are a Puma, and Lynx.

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The Ark is also right on the Meridian Line, and they have this plaque to prove it.

The Ark offers an all weather attraction throughout the year, and is set in the Lincolnshire Countryside.  Visitors can get close up and personal with a wide range of animals.

The majority of the animals at the park are rescues from the European pet trade, who, for one reason or another were neglected, or kept illegally.  They now have a permanent home at the Ark.

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Photography is actively encouraged.

If you want to visit and support this wonderful venture (which has only been open for two years),  please do.  It really is worth the trip out.

ARK Wildlife Park,
West Fen Lane,
Stickney,
Lincolnshire,
PE22 8BD

I look forward to hearing from you, please do click the button to continue to get updates on this blog, as I continue my journey down the Meridian Line….

The Rut of the Reds (Cervus elaphus)

Red deer are our largest mammal in the UK.  Stags weigh anything from 90 – 190kg with females 63 – 120kg. The number of branches on antlers increases with age. Up to 16 points in native animals – who can live typically 18 years.

DSED1606The breeding season, or rut, occurs from the end of September through to November.  Stags return to the hinds home range and compete for access to hinds by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance, including roaring, parallel walks and fighting.  Serious injury and death can result but fighting only occurs between stags of similar size that can not assess dominance by any of the other means.  The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds.

DSED6903Only stags over 5 years old tend to achieve mating despite being sexually mature much earlier (before their 2nd birthday in productive woodland populations).  In woodland populations hinds over a year old give birth to a single calf after an 8 month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July each year.

DSED1996Injuries do happen, and sometimes even death.

Red deer are active throughout the 24 hour period but make more use of open spaces during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance . Peak times of activity are at dawn and dusk.

DSED7496ARed deer are widespread throughout the UK, and can be found in many parks and in the wild.  Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, Lyme Park in Cheshire, Tatton Park, Dunham Massey, and the Lake District.   Also common in East Anglia, and the South West of England.  In Scotland in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire.

 

Mammals

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend a small mammal workshop – and we were treated to an array of harvest mice, hedgehogs, mink, and voles.  It was lovely to shoot a hedgehog (which usually are in hibernation at this time of year).  The hog was ‘borrowed’ from a local rescue centre, and is due for release this spring.  It was good and round, and fat – a great stage for a hungry animal.

The Harvest Mice were tiny, cute as a button, and jet propelled fast – the hit rate was low, but when we got shots, they were fabulous.

DV7B8198 DV7B8293 DV7B8301 DV7B8539 Hedgehog

The Harvest Mouse

Despite the fact that these are known as the Harvest Mouse (or Micromys minutus), they are likely to be found in hedgerows and gardens all year round.

It is the smallest rodent in Britain, weighing in at just around 6g, and came to be called the Harvest Mouse, as it was most commonly seen around the time that fields were harvested.

The mice generally live around field edges, in hedgerows, and in the crops – but they do not cause any damage – they are so small, and eat so little – that the farmer should not notice.

The Harvest Mouse has a prehensile tail, which is about the same length as its own body. It can be used to hold onto things like the stems of corn or oats –

They don’t live long – about 18 months, but in that time they reproduce frequently.  The female is pregnant for only about 17 days, and gives birth to anything up to 8 young – and they can do this 7 or 8 times in a breeding cycle.  The babies leave the nest within a few days, and become independent.


They are the most beautiful mammals – and I hope to get back and photograph them again sometime soon.