Wildlife spotting at Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon is full of wonderful animals and perfect for wildlife spotting, so keep your eyes peeled to spot some of the native creatures and insects as you walk around the grounds.
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild used Waddesdon at weekends to entertain his family and friends, he also added an Aviary with exotic birds, and a menagerie of Barbary goats and rare deer and cattle to add extra interest for his guests.
Of these animals, only birds in the Aviary remain however Waddesdon is a rich habitat for a wide variety of animals, insects and birds. As you go for a walk, keep your eyes open as you may spot a Red Kite with its distinctive forked tail, hares, local butterflies, dragonflies or grasshoppers.
Our favourite creatures and habitats to spot
Badgers can mate all year round but the cubs are only ever born in February. If you are really lucky, you can spot baby badgers in April and May. During autumn you'll have to get up really early in the morning when you might see some snuffling and rooting about for food.
Pheasants, partridges and their relatives are a family of birds, whose members range in size from the massive domestic turkey to the tiny quail. You may see them darting across open fields or hiding in bushes, before letting off their tell tale squawk.
Grey squirrels are active during the day, foraging for food in trees and on the ground. They have grey fur and a large bushy tail which arches over their backs. Look out for them searching for beech nuts that have fallen from the trees.
Yew Trees can live for over 1000 years, and are one of the few conifers that don't produce cones, but birds love their red berries.They like the limey soil here. Yew wood was used to make the famous English long bows used at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.
Stinging Nettle leaves and stems are covered with tiny hairs, which snap and release acid when touched causing a painful stong. In the past, nettles have been used for food and medicine, and the stems were woven into cloth. It's often said that Dock leaves help to relieve a nettle sting when crushed onto the skin, so it's worth a try.
Beech Tree leaves are sensitive to light and twist to face the sun. They produce nuts (beech mast), but need a hot, dry summer to flower. Beech mast is edible but we leave it on the ground because animals love it, from badgers, squirrels and mice to blackbirds, thrushes and pheasants.
Flies live in water, soil, leaf litter, stems, moss, fungi, rotting wood and dung. There are nearly 7000 different types of fly in Britain, from tiny mites to giants nearly 30mm long. We think of them as pests but their larvae (maggots) feed on rotting vegetation and dead animals, breaking them down, so that eventually they become part of the soil.
Spider webs are most noticeable on an early autumn morning, as the dew sits on the silky strands and makes them easier to see.