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Wildlife News

Spring 2015

Brimstone ButterflySpring is always a beautiful time of year at Tatton as nature reawakens after the long winter. The lengthening daylight hours and warmer weather act as a trigger for change.

One of the first signs of spring is the sight of the Brimstone Butterfly and they are often seen here in the park. Wild flowers can now be seen, where the rough grassland of the park or a woodland glade provide good habitat for them to thrive. In turn these provide food for a variety of insect life.

Spring is when our two species of deer “cast” their antlers. The Red Deer lose theirs first followed by the Fallow Deer. The antler separates from the head at the pedicle where a patch of blood can be seen. This soon grows over and a new antler slowly begins to form. The antler is soft and pliable and is now known to be “in velvet”. Any damage to the antler now will show up as a deformity later in the year and now is the time the deer will settle disputes by rearing up on their hind legs to “box”.

Supplementary winter feeding will now stop as the grass supply becomes more plentiful and the deer will be able to regain good condition quickly to provide the resources needed for calving or antler growth. They will now begin the transition between their winter and summer coats and during this time they can look quite shabby.

As part of our responsibility to care for and manage woodland and wetland bordering Tatton Mere we are in the process of clearing invasive species such as Rhododendron and Sycamore in Dog Wood. The area is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and RAMSAR site and as such is an extremely sensitive woodland area. In accordance with agreed objectives by Natural England, The National Trust and Tatton Park, Dog Wood is being managed to optimise habitat potential.

The work will encourage the growth of ground cover and biodiversity of this scarce and sensitive wet woodland habitat. Dead wood will be retained, both standing and fallen, and boggy areas encouraged. As a result wildlife will flourish and improve the conservation value of the site.

The ranger team will be leading various activities in the park during spring including cycling ‘boredom busters’ events, ‘out of bounds’ walks and a birdwatching for beginners walk. We will also be actively involved with the ‘Amazed by Science’ week at the end of May.

Recently a Peregrine Falcon has been seen hunting over Melchett Mere and good numbers of Brambling seen along Beech Avenue. Spring is a great time for birdwatching and visible migration can be seen in the parkland as summer visitors begin to arrive. Interesting behaviour can also be seen during breeding season. Birds look at their finest at this time of year as they moult in to breeding plumage, often used to attract a mate. The Great Crested Grebe is a good example as they have a very elaborate courtship display that can be seen on the meres. Recently the BBC programme Countryfile filmed a piece about them here at Tatton that was shown in early March. Great Crested Grebes were much persecuted for their ornamental feathers during the Victorian era and were down to 40 pairs nationally, 20 of which were in Cheshire. This led to the formation of the RSPB in Didsbury, Manchester in 1889.

BBC Countryfile filming on location at Tatton

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: mark.sills@cheshireeast.gov.uk 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.

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