Summer 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.

Tansy beetle at Beningbrough Hall

Tansy beetle at Beningbrough  

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 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.

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 squirrel in a tree

Red squirrels at Formby  

We're proud to say that Formby and the wider Sefton Coast is regarded as one of the 17 red squirrel strongholds in the North of England. The plantation conifer woodlands here make a good habitat for the native reds as they like to feed on the seeds found in the pine cones and our rangers work with a number of partners as part of the Merseyside Red Squirrel Project in order to conserve this much-loved species.

red kite

Red kites at Gibside  

The conservation of red kites began in Gateshead's Derwent Valley nearly 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 close up of 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.

Arctic tern on its nest

Terns on the Northumberland Coast  

From early April to late August, it's Tern time. The Long Nanny Tern Site on the Northumberland Coast is home to a big colony of arctic terns and the endangered little terns, which need a lot of looking after. Our rangers take this task very seriously and camp out in tents on the beach during the nesting season to stay with the birds and care for them.

Orange-tip butterfly

Butterflies at Roseberry Topping  

On warm, sunny days butterflies will be out in abundance at Roseberry Topping. The speckled wood species can be seen doggedly defending patches of sunlight from other butterflies. The sunny glades beneath the topping are also full of wild flowers, attracting species like the orange tip, while at the summit look out for wall butterflies basking on the rocks.

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.

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.