July 18 – A heron poses in Verulamium Park

A heron poses for a photo in Verulamium Park on our way home from the Cathedral.

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

It has now been hot weather from between 22 and 28C for over four weeks straight with no let-up. It only gets slightly cooler at night but not cool enough to need a cover on. I don’t know how people get on in Australia but we find the weather makes us a bit weary. By the time we walk the 15 minutes to the cathedral we are already too hot and it takes ages to cool down as the cathedral is also holding the heat now. I know we should not complain as winter will be here again soon enough but it is unlike anything we have experienced as at home it usually rains from time to time or gets a bit cooler. It hasn’t rained once in all that time. I think the other thing is that it is a humid heat which is harder to bear than dry heat.

Today was a bit overcast which kept the heat suppressed slightly so we walked home through Verulamium Park armed with a Mr Whippee ice cream each. On the way, we saw a heron hiding under the trees keeping out of the sun. Mike got some fantastic photos of him with a perfect reflection under him. One day we walked home and saw three different herons all doing the same thing and keeping out of the sun. Since we have been walking this way, which we don’t do every day, we have seen two swans with cygnets who we have watched grow up. Also, we have seen ducks with ducklings, in fact, I think one pair are on their second clutch of the season. There are also lots of other water birds who had young which we have watched grow up.

The lake is home to a wealth of water birds and Heron Island supports one of the few heronries in Hertfordshire. Apart from the Grey Herons quite a wide range of wildfowl can be seen on the lake including  Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Mandarin Duck and Ruddy Duck. Both Great-crested Grebe and Little Grebe are present and large numbers of gulls are present during the day outside the breeding season. The majority of these are Black-headed Gulls with a smaller number of Common Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls present. There is a good population of raptors in the area with Red Kite often drifting across the park along with Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel are also seen on a regular basis. Typical parkland birds including Green Woodpecker, Little Owl and Mistle Thrush can also be seen. Lesser-spotted Woodpeckers have been seen around the park in past years and Grey Wagtails are sometimes seen along the edge of the lake or along the banks of the River Ver, the river is also home to Kingfishers.

The River Ver that flows through the park is a rare chalk stream fed from an underground lake called an aquifer. As well as the lakes and the River Ver there are 100 acres of lovely parkland with trees and meadows which are important for insects, birds and bats. The Park is named after the Roman City of Verulamium on which it stands. The Roman city walls and outline of the London Gate can still be seen. It was listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is now protected under law in 1923.

Also in the park is a water park where children have been happily cooling off after school. Our walk has a background noise of happy children playing in the water.