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Our work at Hatchlands Park

Dormouse boxes ready to install at Parke, Devon
Dormouse boxes ready to install at Hatchlands Park, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Mick Jones

Discover more about our work at Hatchlands Park that is helping wildlife to thrive. Find out how we’re counting butterflies are part of a national monitoring scheme. Learn more about our work to provide new homes for the hazel dormouse in the woodland and kingfishers at the pond.

Protecting the hazel dormouse

Hazel dormice are under threat nationally due to changes in woodland management, farming practices, loss of hedgerows and the fragmentation of woodland. They’re a protected species in Britain and regarded by government as a priority for conservation action.

Their preferred habitat of dense, deciduous woodland, coppice and thick shrubbery is a feature of our parkland and woodland. Recently an expert from the Surrey Dormouse Group confirmed that these tiny creatures are making their home at Hatchlands in the hazel trees.

What we’re doing to help

We’ve set up a dormouse project to help these tiny mammals thrive. The next step in our work involves helping them through the winter by providing nesting boxes in the woodland and forming the first dormouse monitoring area at Hatchlands Park.

Orange tip male butterfly on the forget-me-not flower, Cotswolds
Orange tip male butterfly on the forget-me-not flower, Cotswolds | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Butterfly monitoring scheme

With nationwide declines reported across a number of Britain’s most common species, we’re working hard, along with the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, to help reverse that trend.

Butterflies are uniquely placed to act as barometers of the state of the environment, allowing us to assess the impacts of climate change and the progress of initiatives to conserve biodiversity. They’re a perfect indicator species, with rapid lifecycles and high sensitivity to environmental conditions.

What we’re doing

At Hatchlands Park we’ve designed and set up our first butterfly transect with help from Bill Downey, the Transect and WCBS Coordinator for Butterfly Conservation Surrey and SW London.

What’s a transect and how does it work?

A transect is a fixed-route walk where butterflies are recorded on a regular basis over a number of years. Transect routes are chosen to evenly sample the habitat types and activity on site.

Butterflies are recorded each week from the beginning of April to September, when weather conditions are suitable for butterfly activity. These set conditions can have a considerable effect on the numbers of butterflies seen and so ensure that the counts are standardised as much as possible.

A variety of species

The Hatchlands transect takes in a large area of the estate that includes Sheepwash Pond, the Wildflower Meadow, the Parterre Garden and Centenary Woodland. To date we’ve recorded a number of different species including brimstone, small white, orange tip, small copper, small tortoiseshell, meadow brown, common blue, large white and red admirals.

A close up of a kingfisher with a fish in its mouth perched on a branch
Kingfisher at Hatchlands Park, Surrey | © National Trust Images/Richard Bradshaw

Pond restoration to benefit kingfishers

Sheepwash Pond is our largest expanse of water on the estate and a valuable habitat resource, as well as being used by the local community as a fishing pond and a peaceful picnic spot for our visitors.

Creating homes for kingfishers

We want to do more to help serve the population of kingfishers that we regularly see in the park. Kingfishers are cavity nesters, with most species nesting in holes they dig into earth banks on the sides of ponds, streams and rivers. We’ve helped them by creating pre-built tunnels and tubes for kingfishers to move in.

New banks

The pond had also previously suffered from erosion which has caused the silt levels in the water to increase. We set about creating new banks using reclaimed wood and silt collected from built up areas of the pond. These new banks were the perfect location to place the new homes for kingfishers.

A habitat for multiple species

The pond and surrounding area is also home to a number of fish including wild carp, bream, roach, perch and pike, 15 species of dragonfly and damselfly, wildfowl, bats and other aquatic invertebrates. This wide variety shows that our efforts at the pond are working and we will continue to monitor the site into the future.

Cattle grazing in the parkland on a bright day at Hatchlands Park, Surrey


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