Autumn wildlife at Beningbrough Hall

Autumn leaves in a National Trust garden

Change is afoot in autumn, with some birds migrating for the winter, others arriving from colder climates, and some small mammal species building a food store for winter. You might spot some wildlife around the garden on your visit.

Butterflies

Red admiral, comma and speckled wood butterflies are all attracted to fruits such as apples, pears and grapes, as well as flowers in the gardens. The Walled Garden's south facing wall is a good place to spot them, even as late as early November.
 
Speckled wood butterfly
Close up of a speckled wood butterfly

Migrating birds

In September, huge flocks of young swallows and house martins can be seen gathering on the fences in the parkland, or feeding over the garden lawns before migrating to Africa in late autumn. Migrating garden birds such as blackcaps, chiffchaffs and willow warblers disappear gradually, so their departure is not as noticeable.
 

Visiting birds

October sees the arrival of many thrushes from Scandinavia, including mistle thrush, fieldfare and redwing. Look out for them on the edge of the parkland, especially feeding on apples in the 'ha ha' ditch. Large flocks can also be seen feeding on yew trees.
 

Feeding birds

A good time to spot birds in autumn is when they're feeding. Look for nuthatches, blue tits, great tits and coal tits on the feeders in the American Garden, or in the Wilderness Play Area looking for insects on the mature trees there. Green woodpeckers can often be seen on the lime tree avenue or near the river, feeding on ants from the ground. Sparrowhawks can sometimes be seen hunting in the gardens, and little owls often hunt in daylight hours on the lime tree avenue.
 

Small mammals

Wood mice, short-tailed voles, common shrews and pygmy shrews are actively storing food for winter at this time of year. They don't hibernate unless it gets really cold, so depend on their autumn stashes of food to get through the winter. Look out for them in the garden, around the hedges, around log piles, or under trees. Hedgehogs and bats on the other hand will sleep right through the cold months.
 
Boots and a coat are all you need to enjoy a walk in the parkland
Backs of legs of small children walking in wellington boots

Mushrooms

Lots of fungi emerge in the parkland at this time of year, such as giant puffballs and shaggy ink cap mushrooms. Parasol mushrooms appear in the American Garden, and shiny waxcaps on the lawns; they come in pinks, oranges, yellows and reds. Chicken of the woods is often seen on the base of trees, an orange cauliflower-like fungus.
 

Riverside Wildlife

The willows along the river bank are rich in insects and provide good feeding areas for long tailed tits and other small birds, as well as bats such as Noctule and Daubenton's. Otters are active now too, feeding, defending their territories or pairing up for next year; look closely at any disturbance under willows at the water's edge, especially in the hours before dusk.
 

Autumn Colour

The Beningbrough parkland is well wooded, with mature trees such as oak, lime, beech and sycamore. As well as providing a great wildlife habitat with lots of insects, there is also a good display of colour on the estate at this time of year; look especially at the American Garden. Colourful berries are also in evidence, as flowering shrubs such as hawthorn, blackthorn and guelder rose provide a rich crop of autumn fruits.