Wildlife in the Parkland
Rare sightings in a quieter Parkland
A very unusual bird called a redstart was spotted by the Rangers last week. Usually they are found in upland wooded valleys, however, they do migrate here for the summer, so this bird was probably dropping in on its way to the breeding grounds.
There are also a pair of swans nesting on the Mill Pool and foxes are seen regularly in daylight hours roaming the open Parkland.
For centuries the red and fallow deer have roamed freely across our beautiful 2,000 acre Estate. Our rangers are still busy looking after more than 500 deer during these difficult times. The deer are especially looked after in springtime, as most of the females will be pregnant, ready to have their young in June.
The deer are moulting into their summer coats and new antlers are growing fast. They are now 'in velvet' the antlers are soft to the touch and all their energy is going in to growing a new set of antlers ready for the rut in autumn.
The red deer will begin to show their beautiful russet colour from which they get their name and the fallow deer will look striking in their spotted, lighter, summer pelts. Sometimes variances can be seen, with fallow deer showing black or brown coats instead of the traditional spotted, light one.
The deer are due to have their young in June but the early ones can be born as early as mid March. They have their young in a secluded areas and the mother will 'drop' her calf or fawn in undergrowth or by a fallen branch and leave it there, returning to it at night to feed it. This is why it is important to understand, if you find a young deer in the park, to leave it alone. The mother knows where it is and it hasn't been abandoned. After a few days it will be able to 'follow' the mother. During the first few days they have no scent, this helps to deter detection from predators.
Birds that have spent the winter away in sunnier, southern climates will now return. The sand martin is one of the first to return to the Parkland and have been gathering in large numbers hawking insects over the two meres. Swallows, swifts, migrant warbler and house martins will follow.
Spring is the best time to listen to birdsong as many types of birds use their song to attract a mate. The chiffchaff's can be heard singing as well as the willow warbler and other common warblers.
The parkland offers ideal locations for nesting and there have already been thirteen grey heron nests spotted this year.
From late March, the rangers continue with a butterfly survey that was started last year. This involves walking a set transect each week and recording the species and numbers seen. This is part of a national survey, but the data will also prove valuable to the rangers as a management tool. The early butterfly species that are recorded in Tattn Park are brimstone, orange tip and small tortoiseshell.
Rare breed sheep
The rangers look after over 200 Hebridean and Soay rare breed sheep in the Parkland. Rare breed flocks were brought to Tatton Park in the 1880's by Lord Egerton, who had a long-standing interest in agriculture and a history of collecting parkland sheep in addition to deer and other animals. It was stated in Maurice Egerton's will that these sheep, along with the deer herds, must be looked after for future generations to enjoy. They are now one of the primary responsibilities of the rangers.
The Hebridean lambs have all been born now and are growing quickly. Soon all of the Hebridean sheep will be caught up to be sheared for the warmer sumer months.
Signs of spring
Before the trees are fully in leaf, wildflowers make the most of light reaching the ground, bringing carpets of colour to many woods in the park. Bluebells flower early (mid April to late May) and Dog Wood provides some of the most spectacular viewing. The flowers are an important early nectar source for bees, butterflies and other insects. Woodland management work has opened up glades, allowing wildflowers such as, bluebells, wood anemone, marsh marigold and lesser celandine to flourish.
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Free Parkland Explorer Booklet - Compiled by Tatton’s ranger team
Download your own copy of the Parkland Explorer Booklet (PDF, 1.5MB), designed by Tatton's Rangers!
Learn how to be an expert tracker, twitcher and observer of all the beautiful, natural elements of Tatton Park. This is a fantastic way for children and their families to explore the Parkland, with 16 pages of fun activities.