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Wildlife News: Winter 16/17

During the winter months the deer will be fed daily by the rangers. The grass ceases to grow and their diet has to be supplemented to ensure that they remain in a healthy condition during these lean months. They are fed with carrots and haylage, the amount fed depends upon how severe the weather becomes. They are monitored closely by the ranger team at this time of year. The deer have now moulted into their winter coats which have longer guard hairs. These hairs are hollow which trap warm air providing extra insulation. The autumn rut has now ended. Some of the bigger stags had large harems this year with a noticeably increased number staying in the deer enclosure away from disturbance on the parkland. There were very few casualties as a result of the rut this year which is always pleasing to report.

 Winter birds have now arrived and the numbers of wildfowl on the meres has increased as our resident birds are joined by migratory birds from the north. Winter thrushes such as Redwing and Fieldfare can be seen in the parkland as can wildfowl such as Goldeneye, Pochard and Shoveler. Tatton has a reliable history of recording a rare duck called a Smew during the winter months. Other birds, known as partial migrants, move to milder lowland areas from their upland breeding grounds. Two of these species are regular winter visitors to Tatton. Meadow Pipits are common at this time and can be seen in large numbers in open grassland areas. Another less common winter visitor from upland areas is the Stonechat which can often be found perched on reeds on the edge of the meres. This handsome bird is always a delight to see on a cold winter’s day. Signs of migration were evident on the 1st November when over 100 Pink Footed Geese passed over the parkland. Another bird to look out for over winter is a finch closely related to the Chaffinch called a Brambling, the best place to look for them is feeding on mast underneath Beech trees. The fungal walk, that was again very well attended in October, recorded well over 100 species and some of the fungi recorded were quite uncommon. This is very encouraging and shows the benefits of the enlightened dead wood management policy that the park undertakes. Leaving fallen and standing dead wood in situ where possible provides valuable habitats for fungi and invertebrates. This also creates natural nesting places for birds and roost sites for bats. 

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Opportunities to watch the deer feeding at close quarters are being run in both December and February. Enjoy a trailer ride through the parkland to observe the spectacular sight of hundreds of deer enjoying their daily feed of carrots. Pre-booking essential, please call 01625 374428 or book online:

Tuesday 21st 9:30am – 10:30am  Book Online

Wednesday 22nd February, 9:30am – 10:30am Book Online 

Join one of our rangers and members of the local Knutsford Ornithological Society at the ‘Allen Bird Hide’ (from 11am – 1pm on Sunday 22nd January) for a drop-in session looking at the winter wildfowl on the meres. An excellent opportunity to ask the experts!

On Wednesday 8th February 10am – midday, join the rangers for a guided walk of the Winter parkland, observing the deer in their natural surroundings and learning about their importance to Tatton.

Pre-booking essential – please call 01625 374428 or Book online.

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: 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.