What to look out for
Our wildlife haven and the ‘Youse’ river Ouse restoration project
Some of our more treasured bird species such as the green woodpecker or tawny owl
The wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies in the summer months
Different species of butterfly across the garden and parkland in spring and summer
Ducks, geese and moorhens on the lakes
Our garden birds can be seen and heard in the trees, lawns and undergrowth all around the garden. They include the blue, great and long-tailed tits, robins, jays, willow warblers, grey wagtails, blackcaps and chaffinches among others.
Our four lakes are a popular residence for families of mallard ducks, moorhen, coots, Canada geese and of course the pair of swans that are a regular feature of many photos. Herons can also be spotted from time to time.
River and meadow birds
We are lucky enough to be home to one of the most coveted river birds - the kingfisher. They are not that easy to spot but catching that flash of red and blue is well worth the wait. Another colourful resident of the wildlife haven is the green woodpecker which can be seen regularly in the parkland, where it feeds on ants.
Birds of prey
Birds of prey are more elusive and almost exclusively inhabit and hunt the parkland area. Sparrow hawks are the most common but kestrels and buzzards can been seen circling overhead and a tawny owl has occasionally been spotted in Ringwood Toll and on the parkland.
Dragonflies of Sheffield Park
A regular survey is carried out at Sheffield Park to monitor the different dragonfly and damselfly species that live in the garden and parkland. Over a ten year period the results show a positive growth in numbers and they make a spectacular sight flying over the lakes in the garden and skimming the top of the grass in the wildlife haven, near the river.
We have been managing an area of meadow in East Park for a couple of years to encourage native wildflower species. This includes a grazing regime to create a more traditional meadow habitat. Look out for Common spotted orchids in early summer and bluebells in the more wooded areas.
We are also involved in an ongoing project with Sussex University and Wakehurst Place to reintroduce a range of wildflowers to the flood meadow. Thousands of seeds and ‘plugs’ of cowslips, ox-eye daisy and other species have been sown and planted by staff and volunteers and the area is being specially managed to allow them to establish.
Twilight is a beautiful time in the garden and the sight of bats flying over the lakes adds to the magic. Although the garden is not open at that hour of the day, we do organise bat walks from time to time.
The garden and parkland are great habitats for butterflies. We can have hundreds of meadow browns across the parkland, peacocks in the Ringwood Toll copse, commas in East Park and clouded yellows have been seen in good migration years.
We have resident eels living in the lakes and the installation of an eel pass was agreed to encourage them to return from Arnos Brook up the culvert at the bottom of the lakes to breed.