Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Where Romans once roamed

Yesterday I visited Verulamium Park in St. Albans.

Here`s a brief description courtesy of Wikipedia. (sorry but the links don`t work!)

Verulamium Park in St Albans, Hertfordshire. Set in over 100 acres of beautiful parkland, Verulamium Park was purchased from the Earl of Verulam in 1929 by the then City Corporation. Today the park is owned and operated by St Albans City and District Council
The park is named after the Roman City of Verulamium on which it stands. The City walls and outline of the main London Gate can still be seen. Archaeological excavations were undertaken in the park during the 1930s by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and his wife Tessa, during which the 1800 year old Hypocaust and its covering mosaic floor were discovered. The Hypocaust Mosaic is on view to the public and currently protected from the elements by a purpose-built building in the park. On the outskirts of the park is Verulamium Museum, which contains hundreds of archaeological objects relating to everyday Roman life in what was a major Roman City. A pub, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, is also located on the edge of the park. This pub has been listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest such establishment in England.
A main feature of the park is the ornamental lake. Construction started on this project during 1929, giving much needed work to the unemployed of St Albans during the depression. The lake is fed by the River Ver. And one, of the two, islands in the lake supports one of the few heronries to be found in Hertfordshire, On North-eastern edge of the park is St Albans Cathedral and on the North-western edge is St Michael's Church,

The morning started out frosty and dull but soon brightened up into a mostly sunny, but chilly day. I was quiet surprised to find that the lake was almost completely frozen over (I didn`t think it had been that cold!) with just a few gaps in the ice where the wildfowl had gathered.
Sightings List:-
(On the lake) Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Grey Heron,  
(In the parkland) Wood Pigeon, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Blue tit, Great tit and a Robin heard singing but not seen!      

On the Heronry island I counted Eight Grey Herons mostly standing on or tending the nests, but two appeared to have ‘sitting’ birds already (a little early perhaps? maybe they were just resting!)                                                                                                                             
 There was also a large flock of gulls resting on the ice in the centre of the lake, mostly Black-headed with a few Herring and at least one Lesser black backed. And on the river that runs beside the lake there were lots of 'hybrid' ducks of  many varied colours and designs along with a large number of Coots (I counted at least 70!)

I`m afraid I got a little carried away with the beautiful lighting from the low sun and took in excess of 800 photographs!!  Here are a few and I`ll post some more when I`ve processed them. 

Roman Wall
The Bridge at the north end of the Lake
The Heronry
Male Pochard
Female Pochard
Male Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck
 And finaly a Tufted Duck with what appears to be an elastic band around its neck. Fortunatly it didn`t seem to be bothered by it, and I suppose at this time of year a little bit of bling can`t do any harm!!


holdingmoments said...

I haven't been to St Albans for years. The heronry is supposed to be quite big isn't it?
Cracking shots of the ducks Trevor. Hope that Tufted is ok with his necklace.

The Herald said...

Thanks Keith. Yeh,I reckon the heronry has about 12 to 15 nest sites. I don`t think the Tufty was suffering any problems, he seemed to be happy just doing what Tufties do!!