Wildlife at Penrhyn Castle

Llanerchaeron is a haven for wildlife all year round

Take a walk around the grounds at Penrhyn Castle and see what wildlife you can spot along the way.

Take a walk around the grounds at Penrhyn during any time of the year and there is a strong possibility that you will see at least some of the wildlife that shares the grounds of the castle with the visitors and local community. 

One of our most frequent and friendly visitors is the robin, often spotted around the courtyard by the Victorian kitchens and at various places in the garden.  The robin is a member of the thrush family, as are the blackbird and the nightingale.  Our robins have become so used to our visitors that some will even take food from a cautiously offered hand, but only if you are able to sit very still.  On a sadder note, in Victorian times, robin skins were used as decoration for ladies hats due to the beautiful red of their breast feathers which are so visable especially during the bleaker months of the year. 

A very friendly robin at Penrhyn Castle
A robin perched onto a branch near the visitor centre at Penrhyn Castle
A very friendly robin at Penrhyn Castle

During the winter months, robins of both sexes guard their own territories and their birdsong is the same for both sexes during this time.  Robins are omnivorous, eating everything from fruit to small insects.  They do have a particular fondness for mealworms!

Another species of bird often seen on the feeders around the visitor centre during the months of Autumn and Winter are the various members of the tit family.

The easily recognised combination of blue, yellow, white and green makes the blue tit one of our most attractive garden visitors. In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they all search for food.  Keep an eye out for the youngsters who tend to have yellow cheeks until they become mature and turn white.

Coal tits are not as colourful as their cousins but no less interesting.  They have a more slender bill than the blue tit to enable feeding from the surrounding conifers.   During the winter, they are often seen on the birdfeeders and peanuts tend to be their favourite snack.

The Jay is actually a member of the crow family although it is much more colourful than it’s cousins.  Jays can be seen around the grounds of Penrhyn as they are particularly fond of acorns which are found in the surrounding oak trees.  They are quite shy birds and tend to stay under cover and prefer to keep out of sight, making it a special treat when you are able to spot one in the surrounding branches.   The jay is one bird that believes in preparation and will bury acorns during the Autumn in readiness for the colder Winter months.

A jay enjoying the view on the parterre
A close up of a jay sitting on topiary
A jay enjoying the view on the parterre

Moving away from the birds that visit us regularly here, we also have a family of badgers living within the grounds.  Bagders are distinctive mammals often seen at night time in the wooded areas surrounding the castle. The term brocc is an old English word for badger, and can be found in many place names such as Brockenhurst in Hampshire.  They live in dens and can live up to 15 years in their sett.  One indication of a nearby sett of badgers is a tree with distinctive claw marks.  They often use a nearby tree to scratch and keep their claws in shape for digging. 

Here at Penrhyn we also have two varieties of bat that live in the grounds and in parts of the castle itself. 

The pipistrelle bat is the smallest and more common of Britain's 18 species of bat. They are also known as ordinary or earlet bats, and they are quite often seen earlier in the evening than other breeds of bat. The very jerky flight of this bat was the reason behind the ancient name for bats, 'flittermouse'.

A brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) emerges from its roost in a log
Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) emerging from log roost
A brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus) emerges from its roost in a log

The brown long-eared bat can also be found around the grounds.  As the name suggests, it can be recognised by its very long ears which are almost the same length as its body and are occasionally tucked up underneath its wings.  Long-eared bats generally form small and quiet colonies of around 20.  They are quite rare and more difficult to spot than the more sprightly  pipistrelle bat, but are seen flying relatively low during the darker winter months.