Wildlife around the grounds of Middleton Hall

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With numerous Buddleias being out in flower, a good viewing opportunity has arisen for people interested in the various species of butterflies.  A welcome sighting has been that of the Comma which has been making a comeback since the 1920’s when this species was near extinction.  It has been moving steadily North in successive years.  Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Painted Lady’s Peacocks and Wall Browns are all visiting the Buddleias while the Speckled Woods are regularly seen flying at the edge of the woodland near the front drive.

Comma Butterfly

A covey of Partridges have been spotted numerous times in the new woodland and sixteen birds have been counted there.  During my last visit there I happened to see a Weasel disappearing down one of the large cracks in the grass path.

In August, a Snipe was spotted feeding for successive days in the wetland area, while numerous residents have seen the Barn owl hunting at dusk.

With the onset of autumn, the Long Tailed Tit family have started to visit again at the area near the bird hide, and a flock of eight has recently been seen.   Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs are presently very active building up their fat reserves before their migration back to Africa.

An excellent, very recent, sighting has been that of a Spotted Flycatcher which was perched on an overhanging Hawthorn branch in the wetland area.  It was characteristically darting back and forth catching insects.  The flycatcher only visits the UK to breed and flies back to Southern Africa in September.  Swallows, Swifts and House Martins have all nested on site again, and they along with the warblers are getting ready for migration.

Spotted Flycatcher

I had a shock while cutting the grass recently, when a white creature moved out in front of the cutter.  This turned out to be an albino Shrew!  It had a typical brown head and tail but its body was white.  Let’s just hope it avoids the eyes of the barn owl!!

Some white has also been seen in a young Carrion Crow near the trade entrance.  It has a few pure white wing feathers.

The fish in the main pond have been breeding well again and lots of small fry have been spotted in the margins.

David Richardson

Head Gardener

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