Wildlife at Bodiam Castle

The Bodiam Castle wetland, grassland, veteran tree and deadwood habitats, and the castle itself, provide hunting ground, breeding sites and shelter for many species of wildlife. Check out our list to find out what to look and listen out for throughout the year.

Daubenton Bats at Aberdulais

Bodiam Castle Bats 

Bodiam Castle hosts one of the most important bat roosts in the UK, and is home to six species of bats. Our team works hard to monitor and protect them.

Lesser stag beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus)

Lesser stag beetles

Lesser stag beetles are found in our large wood pile at Bodiam and rely on rotting wood above ground, on which the larvae will chomp through. In the past, these deadwood habitats have been hard to find, due to the practice of over-tidying estates and gardens. But this over-tidy mentality has been changing as we realise the importance of these habitats for the wealth of fungi and invertebrates they provide for predators such as the woodpecker, higher up the food chain.

Two young Tawny Owls

Tawny Owls

Tawny owls are strictly nocturnal hunters and are seldom seen during the day but have been heard here at dusk. Tawny owls favour woodland but might use the cavity holes of the estate’s veteran trees to roost before their night shift begins. Males and females can be heard hooting their duet calls from late autumn through the winter months and will breed early in the year.

A Buzzard perching in a tree

Buzzards

Buzzards soar above Bodiam Castle making use of the open grasslands and farmland - occasionally perching on our tall oaks. They will scavenge for carrion and hunt rabbits and mice but will take frogs, earthworms and insects.

A green woodpecker (Picus viridis)

Green woodpeckers

Listen out for this beautiful and largest of the three UK woodpecker species. Its loud, laughing call or 'yaffle' can be heard as it re-establishes its mate in spring. A diet of ants is dined upon using its long sticky tongue to eat both adult and grub, as it feeds across grassland, and wood boring grubs in dead and decaying timber. Like most birds, they will be thrifty at times of need and will take seeds.

Great crested newt

Great Crested Newts

Great Crested Newts (GCN) have European Protected Species status. It's difficult and time-consuming to attempt monitoring of numbers so we're really just looking for presence/absence in our ponds.

Barn owl hunting

Barn Owls

Barn owls can sometimes be spotted out across Freren Meade - the field south of the Bodiam estate, by the River Rother. There are tall outbuildings south of the railway which might be used by a local breeding pair and a nesting box to the west on neighbouring land. The barn owls’ trade-off for having soft feathers for their silent, stealthy flight is that they are not very waterproof. They therefore will mostly have to avoid hunting in rainfall. Field voles will make up a large part of their diet along with shrews and mice.

A red tailed blood bee

Red tailed blood bee

The Red-tailed blood bee Sphecodes rubicundus (nationally scarce and thought to be confined to southern Britain) is a cuckoo-bee and it parasitises Andrena labialis - another bee of which also is found here. You might also be able to spot other bees with red abdomens of the same family emerging from bare ground in spring and summer. These bees are solitary unlike some species of bumble bee and honey bees.

Great spotted woodpecker

Great spotted woodpeckers

One to listen out for from January but especially between March and May, this time drumming on dry tree branches to attract females and warn away other males. We have many woodpecker holes in mature trees (mainly oaks) across the Bodiam Castle Estate. Easier to spot in winter when the leaves are off the trees. They mainly eat wood-boring insects and their larvae but spiders, seeds, nuts and berries will be taken.

A small heath butterfly

Small heath butterfly

The Small Heath butterfly is found on the grassland areas at Bodiam Castle. ‘An inconspicuous butterfly that flies only in sunshine and rarely settles more than a metre above the ground. Its wings are always kept closed when at rest’ - Butterfly Conservation. The caterpillar food plants are grasses such as fescues, meadow-grasses and bents.

Kestrel resting on the branches of a tree

Kestrels

See them perched on castle window ledges and old oaks and flying across site for its next meal - mammal, bird or insect. Kestrels hover distinctively above their prey - predominantly voles - and can detect vole urine as fluorescent, as the vole tries to outrun the bird, unknowingly leaving a road map right to its demise. They are cavity nesters (trees, buildings etc) and have been known to nest in the castle towers.

Bodiam Castle ducks

Bodiam Castle ducks

The ducks at will be very pleased to see you and will welcome you with a quacking chorus. They are Mallard ducks, with the male having a dark green head, a yellow bill, and is mainly purple-brown on the breast and grey on the body. The female is mainly brown with an orange bill.

Carp in the canals

The fish in the castle moat

The fish that you'll see in the castle moat below you as you cross the bridge to the castle are carp. You'll notice that the moment you tread on the bridge the fish will come to the surface and gape at you. It is sometimes thought that they are doing this as they need air, but this isn't the case they’re begging, just like a dog might do at the table. There are plenty of nutrients in the muddy moat waters, even though it may not look like it, and so we ask visitors not to feed the fish.