Now is the time of year that our deer arguably look their best as they moult into their summer coats. The Red deer are a russet colour, giving them their name and the Fallow deer have a beautifully speckled, lighter coloured coat. During the summer months the deer are busy rearing their young - the females will separate from the main herd and find a quiet place to give birth, invariably near to cover such as a fallen branch or a patch of rushes. When born, the calf or fawn is licked clean and will remain hidden. It is born without a scent to prevent predators from finding it. The mother will return during quiet times in the day and later in the evening to feed it. This is why it is important that if visitors find a young deer that they leave it alone, as any human scent on the calf may result in the mother abandoning it. After a few days the youngster will be able to follow the parent and more calves and fawns will be visible out on the parkland as the weeks pass.
The summer birds have now arrived and as expected the first species was a Sand Martin seen over Tatton Mere on 10 March, closely followed by a Chiffchaff in Dog Wood on 21 March. By April there were hundreds of Sand Martins and on April 8 the first Willow Warbler was heard singing. The Rangers count the Heron nests each year for the British Trust for Ornithology as part of a long-running national survey. This year 14 nests were counted which is about average for our Heronry at Higmere. Some of our resident birds nest quite early, this is an advantage of not migrating, enabling a pair to raise two or even three broods in a season. By April 12 a pair of Egyptian Geese had five chicks swimming with them on the Ice Pond. On 25 April, two spectacular Hobbies were seen hunting insects over Tatton Mere and on 30 April a Wheatear and a Whinchat were present in the Deer Enclosure. During the summer months the birds in the parkland are busy raising young and making the most of the longer daylight hours and a plentiful food supply. The picture above shows a Great Crested Grebe nesting on the lagoon at Melchet Mere and was taken by one of our visitors. Now is the time to look out for Terns flying over Tatton Mere, Common Terns are regularly seen at this time of year but it is always worth looking for the rarer Black Tern which can be seen at Tatton especially after poor weather. In late summer, migrants are on the move again and there is always a possibility of waders dropping in. This is the time to see Common and Green Sandpiper which are regular visitors here. There is also a chance to see an Osprey on return migration as Tatton has proved to be a favoured stopping off place in the past. Late summer is a great time to see Hobbies too as they prepare for their return journey to Africa.
We work closely with the South Lancashire Bat Group who have been surveying our bat population for a number of years. Recently they checked the boxes that they have erected and were pleasantly surprised by the findings which included 9 Common Pipistrelles, 11 Soprano Pipistrelles and 2 Brown Long-Eared Bats. We try to encourage bats and hole nesting birds by leaving as much dead wood as possible in the park. Dead and decaying wood is valuable, providing food and shelter not only for bats and birds but also for a wide variety of invertebrates and fungi.
Our two flocks of rare breed sheep have fared well during lambing season. We’ve now sheared our Hebridean flock which can be seen on the showground (near the main car park). The Soay flock which can be seen in the field opposite the Mansion don’t need to be sheared as they shed their wool naturally.
Summer is the best time to look out for wild flowers. Look out for some of the grassland species such as Tormentil and Harebell which are easily found on the park. The edge of the mere is the place to look for Skullcap, Purple Loosetrife and Yellow Flag Iris. We manage the grassland to encourage a variety of flora which in turn host many types of insect including butterflies.
The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is a national project assessing trends in butterfly populations and our Ranger team have recently become involved in this scheme. This vital information not only adds to data gathered nationally but also helps us to identify the best areas and habitat types within the park that benefit butterflies. A transect is walked weekly over the summer and all butterflies are noted. The transect here at Tatton takes in various habitat types and already we have identified ten different species, including Orange Tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone. Hopefully even more species will be seen in greater numbers as the summer progresses.
Three evening deer walks, guided by one of the ranger team, are being run in June and July focusing on the calving season – providing a unique opportunity to view and photograph the Red and Fallow deer in their beautiful natural setting, while learning about Tatton’s herds.
During the summer holiday, we are running a nature day aimed at our younger visitors. We will be hunting for mini-beasts in the park’s ponds and woodlands and taking a trailer ride to get a close look at the deer.
For further details on any of the activities, please contact our Education department on 01625 374428 or visit the our events pages. All events need to be pre-booked.
Compiled 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.