Winter wildlife at Calke Abbey
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.
The bird feeding stations are busy with many of our more common birds eating to maintain their fat reserves for the winter. Goldfinch, greenfinch, chaffinch, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker are all regular and colourful visitors. You should also be able to spot robins, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, marsh tits, dunnocks, blackbirds and collared doves. You may be lucky enough to see something more unusual like a siskin or brambling. We have bird hides in the wetlands and in the corner of the main car park. You will also spot many birds as you walk through the woodland as they have no leaf cover to hide behind.
Of course there are natural food sources for our birds as well, in the form of berries on the hawthorn, holly and rowan trees. These provide a splash of colour in the winter landscape, as well as welcome food for large flocks of winter migrants such as redwings and fieldfares that visit Calke Park during the winter months.
The feeding areas can provide an easy meal for a sparrowhawk, and you might be lucky enough to see one hunting.
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.
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 deer 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.