Wildlife in the North of England

With warmer weather and longer days, it's the ideal time to get out and explore the gardens, coastlines, countryside and woodland that we care for in the North of England and discover the wildlife that call them home. Thanks to your support we're able to look after a wide variety of birds and animals, including cute puffins, colourful beetles, red squirrels and rare toads, and their varied habitats. Here are some of our top spots to see summer wildlife.

Latest visiting update 

Our gardens, parks, cafés, shops, countryside locations and many houses are open. You no longer need to pre-book at many places. Some still require booking ahead, so please check the property webpage before you travel.​

Tansy beetle at Beningbrough Hall

Tansy beetle at Beningbrough Hall 

The iridescent tansy beetle is an endangered species, now only found on a 28 mile (45km) stretch of the bank of the River Ouse, in the York area, and in an area of Wicken Fen. It lives on the yellow-flowered tansy plant and you may spot it along the river at Beningbrough Hall in summer.

Moths of The Sefton Coast

Day flying moths in the Buttermere Valley 

In the upland valley south of Loweswater is a special habitat known as Whiteoak Moss, a carpet of bog-mosses which absorb water like a huge sponge. This blanket bog is home to emperor and reddish-brown fox moths, both of which unusually fly during the day. Blanket bog is not just a fantastic wildlife habitat but is also incredibly important in other ways, soaking up rainfall, slowing the run-off and helping alleviate possible flooding.

Dragonfly at Goddards in the sunshine

Dragonflies at Cragside  

The lakes on Lord Armstrong's Himalayan inspired landscape at Cragside make it the perfect habitat for wildlife. In the summer Slipper Lake is fantastic for spotting dragonflies and damselflies. These flying insects have amazing see-through wings and feed on other insects. Herons can also often be seen standing in the shallow waters of South Lake, using their wings to cast shade and help them see the fish more clearly.

Deer in front of the house at Dunham Massey

Fallow deer at Dunham Massey  

The historic fallow deer herd at Dunham Massey is made up of all four colours of the species – common, menil (with more distinct spots than common deer), melanistic (very dark) and leucistic (almost white). By June the adult male deer (bucks) have started to regrow their antlers, having lost them in the spring, and the female deer (does) are beginning to give birth to their fawns. By early August the bucks are looking magnificent with their new antlers ready for the rut in the autumn.

A basking Durham argus butterfly at Durham Coast

Durham argus butterfly on the Durham Coast  

As its name suggests, the Durham argus butterfly is only found on the Durham Coast and is an even rarer subspecies of the scarce northern brown argus. Rangers on the Durham Coast have made it their mission to help this little butterfly thrive and are working to restore their habitats and encourage the plants they eat to grow.

Two puffins on Staple Island, part of the Farne Islands

Puffins on the Farne Islands  

Cameras at the ready for a trip to the Farnes. Puffin breeding season starts around April time and by July the first of the newly hatched baby puffins, called pufflings, will be leaving their burrows and heading for the sea. The islands are also home to other coastal birds, including kittiwakes, fulmars, guillemots, razorbills, terns and shags in the summer months, and you might see grey seals lolling on the rocks as well.

red kite

Red kites at Gibside  

The conservation of red kites began in Gateshead's Derwent Valley over a decade ago and if you look up to the sky at Gibside, the chances are you'll see one circling above. With its reddish-brown body, white markings and deeply forked tail, this distinctive bird of prey was brought back from extinction in England by a re-introduction programme and the population is now growing. And with a wing span of 5 and a half foot, they're pretty hard to miss.

A Northern Hairy Wood Ant at Hardcastle Crags

Northern hairy wood ants at Hardcastle Crags  

Bigger than the average ant, the northern hairy wood ant can be found in the woodland at Hardcastle Crags. These hard-working insects make their homes in giant dome shaped nests, some of which are up to six feet tall. Look out for them whilst you’re out walking along the Crags’ many paths.

A grass snake in Quarry Bank's Apprentice House garden

Grass snakes at Quarry Bank  

A variety of reptiles can be found on the estate at Quarry Bank but they're not often seen. Keep your eyes peeled on a warm, sunny day as they like basking in the sun - they move fast once they've warmed up though! Look out for grass snakes lounging in the sunshine down by the river. They love being by water and will sit and wait to snack on fish and frogs coming down the stream.

A water vole perches on a wooden post

Water voles at Malham Tarn  

More than a hundred water voles were released onto streams around Malham Tarn in 2016 with another hundred being released in 2017 and they're now thriving. Water voles are the UK's fastest declining land mammal and hadn't been seen in the lake in 50 years, but thanks to the work of our rangers they've now made themselves at home and have been spotted up to a kilometre from their original release site.

Male natterjack toad

Natterjack toads at Sandscale Haws 

This rare amphibian is nocturnal and can be found in dune pools at Sandscale Haws on warm nights during their breeding season from April to July. The males come to the pools first and call to the females using their distinctive rasping song - these calls can be heard up to a mile away. As the dune pools are shallow and warm, the resulting tadpoles develop quickly and the young toadlets have usually all left the pools by late summer.

Great crested newt on the beach

Great crested newts at Sizergh  

If you take a look in the rock garden at Sizergh you might be lucky and see great crested newts, the largest newt species in the UK, hiding amongst the limestone rocks. There are also smaller palmate and common newts living around the pools in the rock garden.

Red squirrel standing on a woodland floor

Red squirrels at Wallington  

The rangers at Wallington are working hard to help support their resident red squirrels and, touch wood, they're thriving, with approximately 200 reds living on the Wallington estate. Pop into the wildlife hide in the west wood or take a stroll along the river walk and you might be lucky enough to see one of these colourful characters yourself.