Wildlife in the 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.
This is also the time of year that the male deer cast their antlers. The new antlers begin to grow immediately and are covered in a soft membrane referred to as "velvet" that supplies the growing antlers with the nutrients needed to build the bone mass. It will take all summer for their antlers to grow to full size.
The deer are moulting into their summer coats and the red deer will begin to show their beautiful russet colour from which they get their name. 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.
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.
They are both hardy breeds and need little intervention (unlike domestic sheep) but the rangers still keep a regular eye on them, especially at this time of year as they will start lambing at the beginning of April. They lamb outside, the ewes moving away from the main flock to a quiet corner of the field to give birth. Both breeds often have two lambs and these keep the ewes busy!
Rest assured our rangers are doing everything that they can to make sure the animals across the parkland are looked after during these difficult times and will be ready for you to enjoy again soon.
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.
Follow us on our social channels - Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep updated on all the wildlife and nature news from the Ranger team still working in Tatton Park.
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.