A sure sign that Spring is here is the anticipated arrival of our migrant birds. The first to arrive is the Sand Martin and Tatton often records the first Cheshire sighting each year. They are soon followed by Swallows, House Martins and Swifts, all of which can be seen in Spring hawking insects over Tatton Mere. Warblers now fill the woodlands with song, which can be a key identification feature. Early morning is the best time to listen for them and Dog Wood is a great place. Another summer migrant to look out for is the Spotted Flycatcher which is pictured above. This photograph was taken by a member of staff here at Tatton. The Spotted Flycatcher is becoming much scarcer but a good place to look for them is around the Old Hall. Some interesting birds were seen over the Winter period including large skeins of Pink Footed Geese passing over on migration in November and December. Mandarin ducks are often seen in the park and were noted during Winter. The Winter Birdwatch with Knutsford Ornithological Society again proved very popular with visitors. An array of ducks such as a stunning male Pintail, Wigeon and Shovelor, were highlights of the day. As the Spring grass begins to grow, the deer become less dependant on supplementary feeding. The ranger team have fed the deer daily throughout Winter to help them maintain condition. During Spring the male deer cast their antlers. The older Red Deer always cast first and the younger a little later. They are closely followed by the Fallow Deer. The daylight length is a trigger for this to happen. The new antler will begin to grow immediately and is soft to the touch and covered in velvet. This is an important time as the spring grass will help the females prepare for calving in Summer. The deer will also now moult into their summer coats which are far more striking than the winter one.
Early wildflowers on the parkland are always a welcome sight. One of the earliest is Coltsfoot, this beautiful yellow flower can be seen at the Mill Pool. Bluebells are early flowering (mid-April to late May), transforming many woodlands in early springtime – they make the most of the sunlight that reaches the ground before the full woodland canopy emerges. Half of the world’s population of bluebells are here in the UK, in broadleaved woodland, hedgerows and fields. The flowers provide an important source of early nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects. Dog Wood provides a spectacular carpet of bluebells and the recent thinning works undertaken on the western side of the track have opened new glades and decreased the canopy cover, encouraging further flowering. Tatton has a vast amount of ponds many of which contain notable flora and fauna. Recently the pond in Boathouse Wood was found to be home to a nationally rare insect. Now is the time to look out for frog spawn. Also keep a look out for Water Boatmen and Pond Skaters. Dragonfly larvae live in the ponds for the first couple of years of their life, later to emerge and become a flying adult. The rangers have lots of Parkland activities for visitors to enjoy throughout the high season. We will be running evening deer walks, children’s cycle rides and much more. See the events listing for the full list.
Complied by Tatton’s Ranger Team
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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. The booklet can be downloaded here (link through to parkland explorer page). You can also pick up a free copy of this booklet.
Volunteering with the Rangers
For further information on volunteering, please contact the ranger team: email@example.com or call 01625 374414 to chat to someone.
The work undertaken by all our volunteers is extremely valuable and much appreciated, allowing us to undertake a wide variety of tasks and projects.