Wildlife around the grounds of Middleton Hall

November 2010

AUTUMN EDITION

In the summer edition, you may remember that the resident carrion crows had been credited to the predation of two of the moorhen chicks. However, they have gained some acceptance with residents, as the crows have been seen on numerous occasions chasing a determined heron away from the pond. Obviously without this interference the heron could soon cause a lot of damage to our population of popular ornamental fish.

With the reduction in temperature, the hedgehogs have now gone into hibernation.  Likely spots for their long slumber will be the numerous compost heaps and log piles situated in the wooded areas.  In addition to this and with a bit of luck, the hedgehog box placed in the woods under a thick holly bush by Mr and Mrs Webb may have attracted a lodger!

A recent, very welcome sighting at the bird hide was a pair of Redpolls. These were quite unexpected, as numbers of these birds in the north east have diminished rapidly in recent years.

General numbers of birds seen from the hide has been lower than expected.  This is due to two main reasons:-

Firstly the abundance of natural foods such as acorns and beech mast, which have been at record levels this year, presumably due to a good spring.

The second reason is the daily visits of a pair of sparrow hawks.  This is now a growing concern as birds will not visit the bird tables while the hawks are in the area. Any suggestions of un-harmful ways to discourage these hawks will be gratefully accepted.

Maintenance team member Alan Grainge has recently completed a challenge I set him, to construct a moth trap and trials are now underway!  I am hoping to gain your enthusiasm for this, like the butterfly identification days we did in the summer. The moths are attracted to a mercury vapour light and then settle in the box below the light allowing us to identify them before release the next morning.  If there is enough interest in this, I would look forward to setting up a group or a few meetings to let everybody get involved.  Please let me or reception staff know.

David Richardson

Estate Manager