Wildlife at Stowe

From the fluffy through to the tiny, a wide variety of animals call Stowe home. Take a look at what you might spot as you explore the gardens. Some are easier to find than others!

At over 1,250 acres, the gardens and parkland provide a large varied landscape. From the multiple lakes that wind through the gardens to the wooded environment in Wick Quarter, vast grassy fields to wild meadows, the gardens provide the perfect home to countless animals. We work hard to encourage these animals to thrive in the gardens, providing them with the habitat they need to survive.


There's a variety of animals who don't mind getting their feet wet. With multiple large lakes, a river and various other smaller bodies of water, the gardens serve as the perfect home to water-loving creatures. Tiny bugs live on or around the water, feeding the fish, which feed the other creatures.

A pair of swans on the water in winter

Swans, Geese and Ducks

Commonly found fighting on the banks of the octagon lake, the bodies of water in the gardens are popular with a wide range of birds. The islands provide peaceful oasis where the birds can lay their eggs without interruptions from humans

a young heron by the lake


Herons are often seen hunting in the gardens. They have long legs for wading in water and they are very adept at being motionless for long periods in order to catch their prey.

Otter swimming past Winchester City Mill


Amongst our most elusive is a family of Otters who live close to the Oxford bridge near the Boycott Pavilions. We've created an Otter holt to encourage their return and whilst they tend to stay hidden, tell tail signs such as spraint to mark their territory has been spotted. Various camera traps in the area have also captured their activities.


Land-based animals can sometimes be a little easier to spot. They mainly eat plants, nuts, bugs and other animals and live underground or in the trees. The varying landscapes and terrains in the gardens give these animals plenty of places to live and find food. Some are put to use around the gardens, helping make our lives easier whilst some just call it home. 

Sutton Hoo sheep

Grazing Animals

Our Tenant farmers use the land in much the same way as in the Cobham era. Sheep and cows control the grass growth, provide food and help recreate the historic views. The Longhorn Cattle, which can be spotted in the parkland, were also kept by the third Duke in the mid-1800s who won several prizes for his show herd.

Red squirrel on a tree trunk


A common site around the wooded areas, especially in the Elysian Fields where they scour through the grass for nuts to get them through winter. As cute as they look, they can also cause problems, stripping the bark off young trees and killing them. We encourage them in the gardens but also monitor their numbers.

A grass snake in Quarry Bank's Apprentice House garden

Grass Snakes

Another shy animal, we've seen evidence of a nest found in leaf litter underneath one of the fallen tree trunks. The grass snake is also aquatic and is usually found near ponds, lakes and ditches so Stowe is ideally suited to their needs. The snake is a good swimmer and can stay submerged for over half an hour. They feed on frogs, toads and young birds. They are often spotted making their way through the rivers in the Elysian Fields.

Muntjac deer in a sunny forest setting at Hatfield Forest

Muntjac deer

Hundreds of wild deer roam the parkland. They tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, generally hiding during the day in hedges. They are native to china and introduced to the UK in the early twentieth century. Various ‘escapees’ have now populated the British countryside. They can live up to 19 years.


1,250 acres is much easier to get around by air. Stowe is home to an eclectic range of birds, some more recognisable than others. Bird boxes and a range of good nest building materials make the gardens the perfect location. 

Green woodpeckers love to eat ants

Green Woodpecker

A woodpecker can usually be heard before they are seen. They have a distinctive, fast clack…clack….clack….clack…sound. They're either looking for insects on tree-bark or, searching for ants’ nests on the ground. The green woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in the UK. It is quite stocky in appearance with a long, strong beak. Green woodpeckers are easily identified as they are a greeny-grey colour with a bright green rump and red head.

A barn owl in flight

Barn Owl

Barn Owl’s nest in and around the buildings at Stowe and can often be seen at dusk when they are leaving their roost to hunt. They hunt over rough grassland across the Parkland where they can find mice and voles. They have acute hearing to detect small mammals and sensitive vision and their low flight is almost silent. They have long legs and toes to reach their prey in thick vegetation.


We work hard to give these animals the perfect environments to live and develop. We've created habitats for animals to live it, put up bird boxes and whenever we've worked on a project in the garden, we've avoided disrupting the local population.

For ever, for everyone

By supporting the trust, you help to protect these animals and the landscapes they live in for future generations. You could even take it a step further and volunteer with us. We have various roles from wildlife surveyors through to joining the ranger team, or even joining our Sunday gardening group.