All creatures great and small
With parkland, woods, farmland, orchards, gardens and more on the estate, there are a wide range of habitats supporting all sorts of wildlife, including four species of owl, great crested newts, eleven species of bat and 30 species of butterfly.
Killerton Park is a Grade II registered parkland. It is home to many species of saproxylic beetle (those that specialise in eating decaying wood) as well as some internationally rare fungi associated with the incredible old trees and deadwood in the park. Highland cattle graze the parkland, creating a rough grass sward, perfect for small mammals and insects that in turn provide a bountiful food chain for lots of birds and bats.
Killerton is blessed with nationally significant collection of veteran and ancient trees. These are concentrated in the parkland and Garden but are also dotted across the entire farmed estate in fields and in hedges. They are beautiful trees and their decaying wood, create a whole network of biodiversity. They are cathedrals for wildlife and the jewels in Killerton’s crown.
There are large areas of woodland to explore on the estate including Ashclyst Forest and Danes Wood to name a few. These are great places to explore on foot, by bike, or on horseback. Ashclyst Forest in particular, is home to many species of butterfly. White admiral, Silver-washed fritillary, Pearl bordered fritillary (below) and Small pearl bordered fritillary are just some of the rarer species of butterfly to be seen. Not to mention the wealth of bat and bird species that call Ashclyst home.
As a farmed estate in the West Country, of course Killerton has many acres of traditional orchard. Arguably these are places where man and nature have worked together to create something even more special than they each could alone. The orchards at Killerton are havens which provide pollen and fruit to countless insects as well as a bountiful crop every year for Killerton’s award winning cider and apple juice, which can be purchased at the shop.
Killerton estate is home to twenty farms. The hedges across the farmed estate are vital for linking up habitats for species to move freely across all 6400 acres. We are currently working on a project to make these hedges better for wildlife, with the help of FWAG (Farm and Wildlife Advisory Group). This project is funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
The landscape garden at Killerton is also host to much wildlife, including bats, birds and moths that live in the incredible trees. The garden team also manage areas as traditional hay meadow. These areas are species rich in native flora and create a stunning contrast to the formal areas of the garden in the summer months. The flower rich hay is vital for pollinators and for the bats that feed on them, it also goes to support local farmers as livestock feed in the autumn.