Wide and varied habitats and creatures
There are many different types of intriguing and beautiful creatures that inhabit the moorlands and woodlands of the Peak District. Longshaw itself has some specialities not found in other parts of the National Park. Longshaw is home to millions of Northern Hairy Wood Ants which have international near-threatened conservation status.
Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris)
Hairy wood ants are a northern species in the UK, but can be found as far south as mid-Wales. The hairy wood ant is named so because of its hairy ‘eyebrows’ visible through a microscope. Hairy wood ants live in mound-shaped nests made out of leaves and twigs and are designed to keep the nest warm by trapping heat.
Pied Flycatcher (Muscicapa hypoleca)
Padley Gorge is famous for these black and white birds and the best time to spot them is in woodlands April to September. Slightly smaller than a house sparrow, perching below the canopy before dropping down to the ground to feed on caterpillars amongst the oak foliage, its loud rhythmic and melodious song is characteristic of oak woods in spring.
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosalla)
Flourishing in the shaded, moist areas of the woodlands, this flowering herb is often found creeping along the ground. To see its white petals with a delicate purple tinge, visit the woodlands between April and May. Overnight and during inclement weather the flower droops to protect the pollen and its shamrock-like leaves also fold down.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocus major
Listen out for the well-known drumming noise of the woodpecker as it clings to the tree, its beak tapping against the bark searching for insects, before using the tip of its sticky tongue to extract insects from crevices. You may hear it in the spring, but are unlikely to see it as it bounces from tree trunks and branches to hide away.
Adder (Vipera berus)
Seen at Longshaw and on the Eastern Moors, adders are quite small & stocky. They hunt lizards and small mammals, as well as ground-nesting birds such as the Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Adders hibernate from October, and emerge in the first warm days of March, this is the easiest time to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides nonscripta)
A wave of lavender-blue colour in the lush greens of the woodlands between April and May, the native Bluebell is a stunning sight in our oak woodlands. Identifiable by its drooping willowy stem with lightly scented bell shaped flowers hanging to one side. The elegantly drooped flowers provide food for bees and wasps.
Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
They have a distinctive bright orange-red tail, which is where their name derives from the Old English "stert" meaning animal tail. They breed in oak woodlands where it may compete with the Pied Flycatcher for nesting sites in tree holes. Walk through the woods between April and September to catch a glimpse of its quivering red tail.
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)
Seen frequently on the moorland near Longshaw on the Eastern Moors they are a russet-brown colour. During the autumnal breeding season, known as the 'rut', males bellow to proclaim their territory and will fight over the females, sometimes injuring each other with their sharp antlers.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Slightly smaller than a robin, the whinchat has quite a big head and a short tail. They are often seen sat on fence posts or small bushes, making a soft clicking call. Whinchats inhabit open meadows and wasteland, wet habitats and dry heath and can be seen on the Longshaw Estate.
Lots of the fun 50 things to do take you exploring the world of the wildlife kingdom. Have a look at the great activities below and go venture into the Peak District to try them out.
17. Set up a snail race
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what's in a pond
36. Make a home for a wild animal
40. Go on a nature walk at night