Wildlife

Spring

Two fledgling Sparrows  © National Trust: Andy Lewis

Two fledgling Sparrows

Spring is one of the best times for birdwatching on the estate. From the dawn chorus to nest-building and fledglings there is plenty of activity to keep you interested.

Summer

Duke of Burgundy © National Trust/ Matthew Oates

Duke of Burgundy

The summer months are the best time to spot the wide variety of butterflies which make the estate their home. Look particularly along the edges of fields and in woodland clearings as these are some of their favourite places.

Autumn

Listen out for the bucks bellowing during the rutting season © Sophie Thomas

Listen out for the bucks bellowing during the rutting season

Ashridge is famous for its herds of Fallow deer and the autumn rut. During October come along early in the morning to hear the bucks bellowing and clashing antlers to win the females.

Winter

Badger footprint in the snow © Bee Saville

Badger footprint in the snow

Although some animals hibernate, winter is still a great time to track wildlife, as footprints show up well in mud and snow. Birds such as Fieldfare migrate from northern Europe to Britain's milder climate.

Deer at Ashridge

A deer buck at Ashridge

A deer buck at Ashridge

At Ashridge both Fallow and Muntjac deer roam freely across the Estate. Both species were introduced to the area from abroad. The Fallow were brought to Ashridge by the Normans to provide food for the monastery, and the Muntjac arrived in the 1900s as a result of escaping from private estates. The Fallow are much larger than the Muntjac and live in herds, and are most interesting to watch in the autumn when the 'rutting' season sees the males lock antlers to battle for the females' affections. During October we run Ranger led walks to help you get up close to the action.

Animals at Ashridge

  • A glis glis emerging from a tree stump © Greg Love

    Glis Glis

    Glis Glis, or edible dormice - the Romans thought them a delicacy - are extremely shy.

  • Badgers at Ashridge © Alison Deighan

    Badgers

    Badgers can be seen on the estate at dusk. You need to be patient and very quiet.

  • Pipistrelle bats at Ashridge © NTPL

    Bats

    Our rotting tree stumps and other deadwood are home to a number of different types of bats.

  • You might spot a fox  © Alison Deighan

    Foxes

    Although usually considered nocturnal, foxes can sometimes be seen in the daylight at Ashridge.

Top Butterflies

  • Duke of Burgundy © National Trust/ Matthew Oates

    Duke of Burgundy

    A rare butterfly, the Duke lives on chalk grassland so is sometimes seen here in May and June.

  • Duke of Burgundy © National Trust / Matthew Oates

    Purple Emperor

    An elusive insect, the Purple Emperor can be spotted in woodland canopies during June and July.

  • Silver Washed Fritillary © Matthew Oates

    Silver-washed Fritillary

    This large butterfly can often be seen throughout the summer months at Ashridge.

  • A male Chalkhill Blue butterfly © Matthew Oates

    Chalkhill Blue

    Another native of chalk downland this pretty butterfly can be spotted in July and August.

  • Speckled Wood © National Trust/ Matthew Oates

    Speckled wood

    There is a good chance you'll spot one of these in the woods between April and September.

Top Birds

  • Majestic Red Kite hunting © Barry Boswell

    Red Kites

    These large birds, with their distinctive forked tails, can often be seen soaring overhead at Ashridge.

  • Skylark © Gareth Thomas FRPS

    Skylark

    Skylarks love open countryside so are sometimes seen on the commons at Ashridge.

  • A beautiful Great Spotted Woodpecker flaunts its black, red  © northeastwilldlifephotography.co.uk

    Woodpeckers

    We have Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers at Ashridge. Even if you can't see them you may hear them.

  • A beautiful Great Spotted Woodpecker flaunts its black, red & white plumag © N.E.Wildlife

    Ravens

    We occasionally have unusual visitors, including Ravens, on Ivinghoe Beacon.

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