Top spots to see wildlife at Gibside
Gibside is a brilliant place for wildlife because we have such a variety of habitats. Developed over hundreds of years, each one supports a rich array of biodiversity. Why not come for a walk and check out some of our Conservation Wardens' top spots for getting close to nature? Make sure you record your sightings at visitor reception.
The Avenue or 'Long Walk' is lined with more than 200 mature oak, lime and sycamore trees. Most of these huge trees are over 150 years old and make great places for insects to spend the winter, tucked up into cracks in the bark. As you walk down the Avenue listen for the tap tap tap of a nuthatch or greater spotted woodpecker's beak as he scoots down the tree trunks searching for a bite to eat!
The River Derwent
As you wander along the river Derwent, keep a look out for lots of different birds... Goosander and cormorant may paddle by in the water or kingfisher could flash through the air like a turquoise streak. In the shrubs and trees along the river bank, listen for flocks of tiny long-tailed tits feeding on seeds. A very lucky few may see otters swimming or at least spot their poo or tracks in the mud.
Snipes Dene Woodland
The steep sides of this wooded valley are thick with shrubs and trees. This is one of the most remote and quiet spots at Gibside, so its a great place to sit, watch and listen in peace and quiet. Sooner or later you'll hear a scuffle and a fox will trot by or a roe deer will venture out to graze.
The Greenhouse or Orangery offers an amazing panorama over meadows, woodlands and river in the valley below. Raise your eyes to the sky and see if you can spot a red kite circling above. Red kites were released at Gibside as part of a re-introduction project to bring these large, fork tailed birds of prey back to the North East. They now nest here in the spring and roost here over winter.
The Hollow Walk
This great hollow at the far end of the Avenue is part of the woodland we're restoring. Non-native conifer trees have been removed, and broadleaf trees, like oak, rowan and ash, have been planted. While the trees are still young, this is a top spot to see roe deer grazing on the grassy banks.
Peanuts, seeds and fruit are put out for the birds at our wildlife hide, which gives great views over Kiln Pit Field. Chaffinches, tits, pheasants, woodpeckers and treecreepers are regularly seen feeding at the hide. You might also spot a squirrel, wood mouse or even roe deer feeding on the apples.
There are still a few red squirrels at Gibside, and the West Wood is where most of the sightings take place. As you wander through the woods you might see squirrel tracks in the snow and signs of digging where a squirrel has been searching for the acorns it burried in the autumn. But no matter what the weather, you can spot the wildlife sculptures that form a trail through the West Woods!
As you stand at the Lily Pond look up to the Column to Liberty, or look down to the river Derwent and meadows of Lady Haugh. Both buzzard and red kite are often seen flying over here. Also look out for badger and fox tracks - both these large mammals live in the woods around this pond.