Country Life Today: Meet the king penguin that swam 1,700 miles

In today's round up, we bring you the king penguin that swam all the way to Cape Town and took selfies with birdwatchers; unveil London's upcoming wildlife hub and discover an ancient horse-drawn streetcar that was saved for the nation.

The king penguin who swam to Cape Town

An intriguing sight at Buffels Bay, this king penguin caused quite a stir when he emerged from the South African surf. Standing at almost a metre tall and unused to human contact, the well-dressed visitor proved comfortable with tourists and even keen to take selfies with them.

The penguin, who swam 1,700 miles from his nearest colony, has been moved to a secret location to avoid tourists and bird watchers out of concerns that he would become too tame to return to the wild.

Full story ( The Times – subscription required)


New wildlife hub for London

The Lee Valley Regional Park — the largest park in greater London — is getting a new state-of-the-art wildlife and birdwatching centre. Opening in June 2020, the new hide will overlook the Seventy Acres Lake and will come complete with live nature CCTV, living roof and a 360-degree viewing tower to take in all the surroundings.

Visitors will be able to watch the antics of bitterns, terns, herons and kingfishers, as well as enjoy footage from nest-box cameras. The project also encompasses habitat improvements, such as the creation of a new kingfisher nest bank.

Full story (The Epping Forest Guardian)


Horse-drawn tramcar gets a new lease on life

The Ipswich Transport Museum has brought a horse-drawn tramcar back to its former glory after it was used as a shed for more than 70 years. The Number 7 vehicle had always had a troubled life. Initially built to be used in Bath, it struggled to cope with the steep local streets, so it was moved to Bradford, where it was pulled by a steam engine. But that didn’t work out either and the tramcar eventually wound up in Cambridge in 1894, where it remained in use until 1914.

Sold off after being withdrawn from service, the vehicle ended up as a shed and was only rediscovered in Ely in 1988 — by which time it had been turned into a cobbler’s workshop. It’s thought to be the only remaining East Anglian horse-drawn car and it took the Ipswich Transport Museum more than 10,000 hours of work to restore it. Now painstakingly renovated, the vehicle will go on display next year.

Full story (Ipswich Star)


Isle of Skye reacts angrily to fake stone circles

Residents of the Isle of Skye have been dismayed to discover that visitors have marred the landscape at the scenic Fairy Glen by building stone circles to ‘impress their social media followers’.

Some of the stones used in the spiral stacks appear to have been taken from local walls, while others might have come from an area that’s prone to slippage. This has sparked an outcry among local people, who are worried about the damage tourists are causing to the land.

Full story (The Scotsman)


On this day…

Fireworks in Edinburgh

…in 1605, the Gunpowder Plot, which intended to blow up the House of Lords (and James I with it), was foiled. To celebrate the King’s survival, people lit bonfires all around London and started the tradition of Bonfire Night. Nowadays, we burn doll effigies of lead plotter Guy Fawkes and celebrate with intricate firework displays all around the country.


Listed building demolition sparks anger in Staffordshire

A Staffordshire landmark has partly been taken down despite a vocal campaign to save it. The former Price and Kensington teapot factory, in Longport, near Stoke-on-Trent, was partially bulldozed at the weekend.

The 18th-century building, which is listed Grade II*, had long been on Heritage England’s At Risk register. Despite extensive search, no developer stepped in to regenerate the site and, after that survey revealed the structure was unsound, the council took the decision of taking it down. Protesters gathered outside the factory in a last attempt to prevent it being demolished, but the work went ahead anyway.

Full story (BBC)


And finally…

The latest in country music, coming to a farm near you.