Summer wildlife at Kedleston

5 grey fluffy cygnets on the lake

During the summer, the full extent of Kedleston’s parkland wildlife comes to fruition. Whilst the dramatic birdsong has quietened down after spring, there is still plenty to look out for across the parkland. Test out your summer nature spotting skills.

Dragonflies and damselflies 

As we move towards high summer, dragonflies and their smaller cousins, the damselflies begin to appear around the lakes. We’ve already seen the broad-bodied chasers perching amongst the dock leaves on the Wilderness Walk (near the wooden bridge that visitors cross when walking round the lakes.)

Watch out for emperor dragonflies (mainly flying over the lower lake) and black-tailed skimmers perching at the edge of the middle lake. The skimmer is a medium sized dragonfly with a dull blue abdomen with a black tip. It likes to perch by the side of lakes preferably on hard objects like stones or dry mud. By contrast, emperors constantly fly over the water, rarely if ever settling while the sun is out.

Newly emerged female black tailed skimmer
Dragonfly on person's hand with field in the background
Newly emerged female black tailed skimmer

Butterflies and bees

The butterflies are having a poor year following the very cold and then wet spring. Look out for speckled woods in the sunny glades of the woodlands. The most common species in the parkland are meadow browns, a species that has small reddish marks on the wings with a single black dot in the middle of each one. Spot it anywhere where the grass grows long.

By summer, the trees will be in full leaf, shading out the woodland floor below them.
Look for the distinctive leaves of the oak tree. If you find any lime trees in flower, they will be buzzing with bees which can overdose and end up lying on their backs on the ground having had their fill!

Speckled woods can be spotted in woodland and glades, gardens, parks and hedgerows
Brown and white butterfly in woodland
Speckled woods can be spotted in woodland and glades, gardens, parks and hedgerows


As the breeding season comes to a close, birdlife can be quiet in the heat of summer but be sure to look for the brilliant mud nests which the house martins make on the front of the Hall. The birds swoop about rather like swallows but notice that they have white rumps which swallows don’t!

On the lakes, nine cygnets hatched in early June and we hope they survive the year. By the bridge and weirs keep a lookout for grey wagtails. None bred this summer in the specially designed nest boxes that were installed for them, but individuals do occur on and off right through the summer. The black and white pied wagtails can often be seen in front of the hall, sometimes with their young.

Spotted flycatcher
Spotted flycatcher perched on a branch
Spotted flycatcher


There have been sightings of roe deer. You may also spot muntjac deer - normally they are only active after dark and being small (only the size of a Labrador) can easily be mistaken for a dog. 

Brown hares seem to have increased with several sightings of half-grown leverets.
Kedleston Park also has a good complement of bats. 

Brown hare in Kedleston woodland
Brown hare in the woodland
Brown hare in Kedleston woodland

From the weird to the wonderful there's plenty to be found during the summer months. Our team of rangers, gardeners and volunteers enable wildlife to continue to thrive on our land which we work hard to protect, maintain, and conserve for the future.

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