Wildlife at Oxburgh Hall

An otter in the River Gadder at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk

Oxburgh Hall provides a really valuable space for wildlife, within a surrounding landscape predominantly used for farming.

Home to at least seven species of bat, breeding barn owls and visiting otters; the surviving veteran trees are supporting scarce beetles and the Washpit with its wildflowers is proving popular with butterflies. What will you discover on your next visit?

At the water's edge

Water vole

Water voles and fish

The River Gadder, which is one of the country’s rare chalk rivers, supports a wetland plant community, as well as water voles, water shrew, bullhead and brown trout.



We’ve had an increase in otter sightings, so keep your eyes peeled. Otters are at the top of the food chain in river environments, indicating a healthy river.

Banded Demoiselle


The Banded Demoiselle dragonfly, with its iridescent blue band on its wing can also be seen flitting around the water’s edge between June and August.


When you visit, you’ll likely see a pair of swans gliding along the moat. Swans have been a regular feature at Oxburgh over the centuries; we know from historical records that the Bedingfeld family had swan pens on the estate.

Historically, owning swans signaled nobility, as only those wealthy enough to own an official ‘swan mark’ from the Crown could keep them. 

Their high status is likely to have come about because of their perceived beauty and behavior; they are graceful and elegant on the water, as well as strong and aggressively protective of their young. Swans tend to mate for life and we hope our current resident pair will have cygnets in the not to distant future.

Spreading their wings

Common Blue butterfly

Beautiful butterflies

The Washpit is where you’ll find an array of wildflowers. This area is opened each summer, which is also the ideal time to keep your eyes peeled for several grassland and wood edge butterfly species, including small skipper, large skipper, gatekeeper, ringlet, meadow brown, small heath and common blue.

Barn Owl, Tyto alba, at Belton House, Lincolnshire

Feathered friends

The bird life is typical of the landscape you’ll find at Oxburgh Hall. Skylark, Song Thrush, Barn Owl and Yellowhammer all breed in the area. Corn Bunting and Turtle Dove have also been recorded in close vicinity of the estate. We’ve also had more sightings of Red Kite and Buzzard in recent years.

Common pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) in flight over silver birch branch

Bats working the night shift

The Hall and Chapel are known to support the bat roosts of at least three species, and thanks to a bat recorder capturing sonic soundwaves, we also know that the surrounding gardens and estate provide valuable feeding habitats for at least seven bats species, including the rare Barbastelle. Insects emerging from the moat are a particularly great food source for bats, including the Common Pipistrelle, which roost in the garden wall and turrets.

Keep your eyes peeled for

Rare beetles

There are a number of old veteran trees in the Oak Yard, close to the Chapel. These trees support a notable community of wood-decay invertebrates, including several nationally and regionally rare and scarce beetles. Did you know that Oxburgh is now recognised as one of the top sites for saproxylic beetles in Norfolk? It’s the moist, decaying wood that attracts them to set up home here.

Roe deer and brown hares 

An early morning walk around Home Covert or a stroll when it’s quiet towards the end of the day; may reward you with sightings of roe deer and brown hares. The abundant cover and vegetation here clearly provides a good foraging habitat for both these species.

Weevil wasp

The flower-rich borders and orchard are home to a wide variety of wild bees and wasps; including the rare 5-banded weevil wasp, which as its name suggests, is a predator of weevils. The Brecks is a known stronghold for this species, which digs its nest burrows in hard open ground.