Looking after nature

Three barn owl chicks at Canons Ashby

We’re on a mission to improve our biodiversity in our green spaces. By planting wildflower plugs, throwing seed bombs with our visitors, and providing safe habitats for insect, bird and animal life, we hope to provide a welcoming and healthy home for all kinds of creatures.

We have been planting wildflowers like red clover, yellow rattle and ox-eye daisies in the paddock. These are all wildflowers which are popular with pollinators, and should encourage plenty of insect life.  By encouraging diverse wildflowers and supporting insect life, we hope to support a whole range of local wildlife which relies of these things.

We've also been adding new nesting boxes, bird feeders and improving our other nature habitats across the site to provide plenty of safe spaces where our wildlife can take shelter.

A recycled walking boot from a kind volunteer, reused as a nesting box
An old walking boot recycled into a bird nesting box and installed on a tree
A recycled walking boot from a kind volunteer, reused as a nesting box

This continues all year round. The wildflowers and grasses are managed to make the most of the natural wildflower seeding in the summer, whilst in the winter fruit is left in or under the trees to provide food for birds and other creatures in the coldest months.

In 2020 we have been thrilled to discover Great Crested Newts hiding under the seed trays and plant pots in the gardeners' behind the scenes growing areas. There's a small pond nearby and plenty of damp hidden spaces to hide. Hopefully they'll stay for many years to come. We've also discovered hedgehog poo: fingers crossed for a hedgehog sighting soon.

Great Crested Newts have been spotted in the gardeners' potting area at Canons Ashby
A great crested newt hiding in the grass
Great Crested Newts have been spotted in the gardeners' potting area at Canons Ashby

Around 80 different types of birds have been spotted at Canons Ashby: a pair of reed buntings was recently seen by the restored Medieval Stew Ponds, which are proving a popular wildlife refuge full of birds, amphibians and insects.

The barn owl chicks above were photographed back in 2018 whilst they were being ringed, weighed and recorded by the Northamptonshire Barn Owl Project, as the family of owls nested in a neighbouring field. We also have regular nesting swallows and kestral chicks.

Young kestrels who hatched at Canons Ashby, nearly grown up!
Two juvenile kestrels in the tree where they hatched
Young kestrels who hatched at Canons Ashby, nearly grown up!

Canons Ashby is the home to plenty of species of bats and run annual bat walks so you can get to see them at dusk.

Moth surveying in the gardens and paddock has recorded a healthy and diverse range of moths, even including some moths which live in marshland, perhaps making their home in the Stew Ponds area behind the church.

Encouraging a wide variety of wildflowers and grasses helps our insects
Wildflowers and grasses in the paddock in June
Encouraging a wide variety of wildflowers and grasses helps our insects