Wildlife around the grounds of Middleton Hall – Edition 11

November 2012

I was fortunate enough to see a Little Owl near the front drive at the end of October.  This is a new bird species for the site (now 73 species) and adds to the other varieties of owl we have seen, namely the Tawny Owl and Barn Owl.  The Little Owl was introduced to the British Isles around 1880 and is predominantly seen in southern England.  Unfortunately its population has declined by 24% in the last 20 years.  You will know if you see this owl as it is only half the size of a Tawny Owl and has an undulating flight like a woodpecker.

With the acorns and chestnuts falling to the ground you can see a variety of wildlife gathering stocks of food for the winter.  Grey squirrels, Jays and small mammals are the most obvious.

A nationwide alert has now raised our awareness to the Chalara dieback of Ash trees and using information from the Forestry Commission we are currently checking the Ash trees on site for this disease, particularly the newly planted trees.  It is feared that it could disastrously kill off up to 80% of our national Ash population.  We are currently sending pictures and samples to the Forestry Commission and in the meantime you can help us by avoiding walking through the new woodland.  This will help to contain fallen leaves until we have been given the all clear.

David Richardson

Head of Operations