Flying high at Quarry Bank and Styal

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  • Lesser-spotted woodpeckers are known to breed in the Southern Woods. They are shyer than the more common greater-spotted woodpecker and spend most of their time high up in the trees so are difficult to detect. They favour the wet woodland with alder trees and the deadwood we leave in situ.
  • The largest species in the crow family are ravens. These pair for life, breeding in the Northern Woods. They build their nests in Scots pine trees.
  • There is a large variety of farmland birds to be observed; these include nesting tree sparrows and finches - greenfinch, goldfinch, redpoll and chaffinch. They eat berries from the hedgerows and oats grown in the arable fields. Siskin visit from Northern/Eastern Europe in winter. They use our alder and birch trees as a food source.
  • Barn owls nest on site. They feed on small mammals such as field voles and wood mice and also like frogs.


  • Our trees and roof spaces across the site hold favourable roosting sites for bats. Bats use echolocation calls to find their way in the dark, so a special device (a bat detector) is needed to hear them. Each bat calls in a different pitch so their identity will be heard.
  • Daubenton’s bats fly slowly over the mill pond and river, catching caddis flies, pond skaters and other insects.
  • Noctules are the largest of our native bats. They mainly eat moths, flies and beetles. Flying high above the trees they have to watch out for owls trying to catch them.
  • Common and soprano pipistrelles are very small mammals. They catch midges and other small insects whilst flying.
  • A selection of large roof spaces is favoured by brown long-eared bats to roost in during summer months. These bats fly around the woodland, eating beetles, flies and moths. Predators that may be close by include kestrels and owls.


  • Butterflies flutter across fields and through the woodland helping fertilise the flowers. A couple of favourites include small coppers and small skippers, both of which fly throughout the summer. The white-letter hairstreak flies for only a very short period and uses our wych elm trees as a larval food source.
  • Dragonflies, such as the emperor, fly around the mill pond and by the river in the summer. This large dragonfly patrols the pond from a height, surveying everything beneath it. It eats smaller insects, even other dragonflies such as four-spotted chasers. These have a similar flight season and also fly above from the pond surface and can be identified by the number of brown marks on their wings.