Spring wildlife at Kedleston

Grey wagtail bird sits on a tree

Spring is breaking out across the Kedleston parkland. Take a walk, bring some binoculars or a camera and get closer to nature as the wildlife wakes from its winter slumber. Here's our guide on what to look and listen out for this spring.

Nesting birds

Very soon birds will be nesting all over the parkland. Look out for spring migrant birds such as the swallow, house martin and swift. 

The lakes are a perfect location to look out for birds. Home to ducks, geeese, coots and swans and, before long, broods of ducklings and goslings. The lakes provide the perfect habitat for a huge variety of birdlife, making it a prime spot not just for hardened bird watchers but also those who just fancy giving it a go. Noisy oystercatchers appear each spring to nest, returning from the coast where they spend the winter. These black and white wading birds, with their long carrot coloured beaks probe for earthworms in the park and nest on the big island. 

Not all the birds on the lakes nest here - see if you can spot the showy shelduck and whiter-than-white little egrets.

Little egrets visit the lake
Little
Little egrets visit the lake

The sounds of spring

Migratory birds have returned from their winter quarters and fill Kedleston with their joyful songs. Listen for great spotted woodpeckers proclaiming their territories by drumming loudly on dead branches high in woodland trees. By far the most common woodland bird is the jackdaw with many pairs nesting in holes in the veteran trees. The most common small birds are blue and great tits along with robins and wrens. These are joined by several pairs of blackcaps returning from Southern Europe where they spend the winter.

Great spotted woodpecker in the Kedleston woodland
A woodpecker sits on a branch of a tree
Great spotted woodpecker in the Kedleston woodland

Bees, bugs and butterflies

The community of colours provided by the Kedleston spring blooms provide a feast for a variety of bees and other pollinators. As the blackthorn blooms, peacocks feed on the nectar as they emerge from their long hibernation. Look out for the thicket of blackthorn right beside the Wilderness Walk as you travel towards Hay Wood. 

Blackthorn blossom is a feast for the peacock butterfly
Blossom against blue sky
Blackthorn blossom is a feast for the peacock butterfly

The first damselflies emerge in April, followed by dragonflies from May onwards. 

Broad bodied chaser dragonfly
Dragonfly pausing on a bush
Broad bodied chaser dragonfly

Last year many dog-violets were planted in the woods as they are an important food source for the caterpillars of the silver-washed fritillary butterfly. This type of active conservation is carried out by the rangers. Thanks to their dedication and your support we are able to continue and develop this essential work.

With thanks to Kevin Morris, Kath Patrick and Nick Brown for their photographs.