I've run past Sutton earlier in the year, but it is actually off the road. The next village I came to was Beckingham, one of the larger satellites of Newark with a population of over 1000, a fine tower church, a pub, and a couple of very strange animals I cycled past in a field by the road.
"What on earth were they?" said my brain to itself when it had processed the white flashes I had seen through a gap in a hedge. I let the bike coast to a halt, turned around, and went back to have a look at what I had initially thought were a couple of alpacas - an increasingly fashionable item of livestock to keep around here - but soon turned out to have the wrong number of legs.
For in this field were standing two tall, creamy white birds with long necks, feeding with their backs to me. They were a little way off, but they appeared to be easily five feet high, with legs like Usain Bolt. On closer inspection, a chick could be seen feeding with the two adult birds.
I took some photographs of these birds - clearly rattites of some description, and carried on my ride, an enjoyably sunny 40km trek around these villages of the Lincolnshire - Nottinghamshire border. Pondering on these birds, I didn't think they were large enough, or indeed black enough, to be adult ostriches but thought they might be immature birds.
It was when researching this piece, that I remembered the large flightless bird that had made the news nationally when it escaped from a farm in North Nottinghamshire. The picture with this article identified the bird straightaway for me.
Have you guessed yet?
It was a rhea!
Rheas are normally dark in colour, but it seems that leucistic white birds are common, and cursory web research indicates that they are becoming increasingly farmed in the UK for their meat, with chicks on sale for £65 and adult birds £200 or over.
Whether these birds were pets, or for the pot, I have no idea.
I wonder if any of my steampunk friends would be interested in their feathers?
All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 02.10.15
|Fenton village pond|
|The church is hiding|
|The Beckingham "alpacas"|
|In this shot you can see the two toed hoof|
|Sorry these aren't the clearest shots|
|The view deep into Lincs. The photo just does not do it justice, it was magnificent|
|Public footpath to certain death|
|Out in the sticks|
|A barn fit for swallows|
|River Witham at Stapleford|
|I love these village boards|
|Onion harvesting. The smell was quite something|
|Lanky bike rider|