Thursday, 18 April 2013


From Sunday 31 March to 2nd April, lots of families visited Lyme Park to celebrate the 13th day of Iranian New Year.

Iranian/Persian New Year, or Nowruz (pronounced: n’rooz has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. In Persian ‘Nowruz’ means "[The] New Day").
Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, usually 21 March. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals. On New Year's Day, families dress in new clothes and start twelve days of celebrations, visiting their family and friends.

The thirteenth day after New Year is called ‘Sizdah Bedar(pronounced: seda bedar) which means "passing the thirteenth day", figuratively meaning "Passing the bad luck of the thirteenth day"). This is a day of festivity in the open, often accompanied by music and dancing, usually at family picnics. Lyme offers the perfect spot for relaxing and celebrating outdoors.

Sizdah bedar’ celebrations stem from the ancient Persians' belief that the 12 constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for 1000 years, at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Hence Nowruz lasts twelve days; the thirteenth day represents the time of chaos when families avoid the bad luck associated with the number thirteen by going outdoors and celebrating!

Add caption

Monday, 8 April 2013

Little owls at Lyme Park

Driving toward Pursefield Wood a few days ago, we spotted a little owl perched on a fencepost. Its mottled brown and white plumage meant that it blended effortlessly into the trees behind it.

See if you can spot it through the binoculars..... 

Found it? Here's a close up....

The little owl eyes us warily
Since I started at Lyme Park last October, I've been lucky enough to have seen four owls: barn, tawny, short-eared, and now little. I just need to see a long-eared owl, and I'll have the full set! Let me know if you spot any by emailing

Little owl FACTFILE:
Latin name: Athene noctua
Habitat: Found in England and Wales with a few in southern Scotland. It likes lowland farmland with hedges and copses, parkland and orchards.
  • The little owl was introduced to Britain in the 19th century.
  • They hunt mostly at dawn and dusk, swooping down from a perch on to small mammals and insects. They are omnivores, occasionally eating plant material and berries.
  • In Greek mythology, the Little Owl was the messenger of Athene (note the Latin name), the goddess of wisdom.
  • Breeding Bird Survey data suggest that Little owl numbers are declining, with the UK population estimated to be down by 24 per cent between 1995 and 2008.
Further reading: