While you've been away: wildlife takeover edition
Although lockdown has meant that we haven’t been able to welcome human visitors to the places we care for, wildlife seems to have other ideas. Several of our on-site staff have reported rare sightings and uncharacteristic behaviours from their local bird and mammal populations, which seem to be making the most of the unusually empty gardens and estates.
Among the strange encounters was a buzzard who has made its way into the orangery at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk – having apparently decided to enjoy its lunch among the impressive collection of camellias.
Meanwhile at Plas yn Rhiw on the Llyn Peninsula, stoats, weasels and hares who would usually roam the woodland have been spotted exploring the gardens instead - presumably appreciating the blooming displays of rhododendrons and azaleas.
National Trust Head of Nature Conservation, Ben McCarthy, said: ‘It’s only been a few weeks but wildlife seems to be enjoying the breathing space. With less traffic and fewer people, we’ve heard deafening levels of birdsong and seen famous monuments and formal gardens colonised by wildlife.’
While we’re looking forward to welcoming human visitors back to these special places when we can, we’ll be asking everyone to be extra mindful of the wildlife that has settled in to new homes.
‘Over the last few weeks we’ve seen endangered birds, as well as more common wildlife, expanding their territories and nesting in places they wouldn’t normally’ says Ben.
‘As the lockdown begins to be eased, we all need to play our part to ensure that this wildlife remains undisturbed.
‘By following instructions, keeping dogs on a short lead, not approaching wildlife and taking any litter home, we can ensure our places benefit both people and nature.’
More unusual wildlife encounters
A room with a view
In Dorset a pair of peregrine falcons have built their nest atop the towering ruins of Corfe Castle. Peregrines haven’t nested here since the 1980s, but this year the unusual quietness of the site and the high walls have proved ideal.
In the absence of the usual hustle and bustle, one tiny pipistrelle bat has seized the opportunity to make a home in the wall of a deserted Lake District car park.
Shake a tail feather
The peacocks at Powis Castle in Wales appear to be missing their adoring public. With no visitors to display their ostentatious tail feathers to, the birds have taken to following gardeners on their daily rounds instead.
Is it a bird...?
At Ashridge in Hertfordshire, the sound of a rare grasshopper warbler was recorded in a previously busy dog-walking area. This small bird often goes undetected as it really does sound like its insect namesake.
Mooving on up
At Osterley Park, London, a herd of Charolais cattle have been moved from the fields to the front lawn to ‘mow’ the grass. It is the first time in 100 years that cattle have grazed the area in front of Robert Adam’s 18th-century palace.
If you’re keen to give nature a helping hand, we’ve got plenty of suggestions to get you started. Why not try some of our tips to help the bees and butterflies in your local patch with a spot of nature-friendly gardening, or donate to help us support wildlife at the places in our care?