Summer wildlife at Beningbrough Hall

Peacock butterfly on a flower

The Beningbrough estate is teeming with wildlife in summer. The various different habitats, including the parkland, woodland, riverside areas and the formal gardens, all attract birds, bees and butterflies with their colourful flowers and fruit trees. Here’s a guide to some of the creatures you might discover during summer.

Bumble bees

Various varieties, such as the red tailed and buff tailed bumble bee, can easily be spotted in the flower gardens. There’s a bee hive by the south border too, which encourages bees to live and work in Beningbrough’s gardens.
 

Insects

Many types of insects can be found in the Beningbrough gardens, such as seven spotted ladybirds. There’s an insect hotel by the south border, a popular feature with younger visitors. Grass is purposely left long for wildlife around this area as well as in certain other parts of the gardens.
 

Butterflies in the gardens

In the flower borders, look out for the small tortoiseshell, peacock, comma and red admiral; they love buddleia and verbena . You might also spot a painted lady, a summer migrant in the gardens. A rarer sight is the hummingbird hawk-moth feeding on lavender and honeysuckle; its wings beat so fast you can hear them hum.
 

Butterflies in long grass

Commonly sighted butterfly varieties in long grass of the American Garden and orchard are the meadow brown, ringlet, and gatekeeper. These species spend the winter as chrysalis or caterpillars in the grass, and hatch into butterflies in late June and July.
 

Tansy beetle

This beautiful iridescent beetle is an endangered species, now found only on a 45km stretch along the banks of the Ouse, in the York area. It lives on the yellow-flowered Tansy plant and you may spot it along the river at Beningbrough in summer.
 

Dragonflies

The banded demoiselle, brown hawker and southern hawker can all be spotted in summer, around the ponds and the river. The wildlife pond in the American garden is a great place to look out for them. 
 

Birds around the Hall and gardens

Look out for Great Spotted Woodpeckers
Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding young at nest hole

Among the flower borders, the chaffinch, goldfinch and greenfinch are a common sight, feeding on seed heads. Both these species nest in the walled garden, often in the fruit trees. Look out for swallows nesting on the Hall and the summer house. You might also see the spotted flycatcher, which nests in the ivy and vines along the carriageway.
 

Birds in the woodland areas

In the old oaks of the Wilderness Play Area, or around the feeders in the American Garden, nuthatches can sometimes be seen. Here, the “scratchy sweet” melodic song of the blackcap is often heard, although the birds usually hide under cover. Similarly the two note song of the chiff-chaff is a common sound in the American Garden.
 

Birds in the riverside area

In the riverside area of the parkland, swallows and sand martins are both often seen, feeding over the water. You might also notice that there are colonies of sand martin nests on the opposite bank. There are green and great spotted woodpeckers around this area too, although they are a less common sight.
 

Bats

Why not plan an evening nature walk along the river bank in Beningbrough's parkland? You may be rewarded with the sight of bats feeding over the river e.g. pipistrelle, noctule and Daubenton’s bat. Look out for fish rising too -  and you might even see an otter feeding.