Winter wildlife at Calke Abbey

A robin at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire

Even in winter, Calke Park is a beautiful place to visit. The trees, despite having lost all their leaves, look beautiful against the winter skyline, particularly the gnarled shapes of the stag-headed oaks.

Bird spotting

The bird feeding stations will be busy this winter, with many common birds eating to maintain their fat reserves for the winter.

Look out for colourful regular visitors such as goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker. You'll also spot robins, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, marsh tits, dunnocks, blackbirds and collared doves – and you might even be lucky enough to spy something unusual like a siskin or brambling.

A blue tit perched on a branch in the wetland
A blue tit in the wetlands at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Visit the bird hides in the wetlands and in the corner of the main car park to see the birds feeding. Berries, hawthorn and rowan trees also provide excellent natural food sources, escpecially for large flocks of winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares. Keep an eye on the skies as these feeding areas can provide an easy meal for a sparrowhawk...

Winter is a great time to look out for wildfowl. Look out for mallard and mandarin ducks as the males have wonderfully bright plumage which looks amazing at this time of year.

Winter in the deer park

Deer, like the rest of the livestock in the park, are fed hay during the winter when natural grazing is scarce. Look out for the red stags – they look particularly stunning in their thick winter coats with their handsome neck manes. They can often be seen during the day by the fence in the car park. 

One of the red deer stags in the deer park at Calke
A red deer stag at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire