Read about the life and work of the Attingham Wardens

Attingham Park is a National Trust property comprising of an 18th Century mansion set in a Repton landscape; the Park and wider Estate includes a deer park, walled garden, several miles of the rivers Severn and Tern, extensive farmland and woodlands.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Our lovely volunteers!

It's National Volunteer Week next week so I thought I would take the opportunity to say a big thank you to all of the wonderful wardens that help us carry out the vast amount of work here all year round. Come rain or shine, they are here and usually smiling! They also take plenty of photographs, many of which are offered to me - so here are some of our lovely lot! (As I browsed my files for these pics I soon realised that two gents in particular end up infront of the cameras a lot - guess who?!!)


I need lots more pictures of everyone else, so will be sneaking up on them with a camera over the coming few weeks...

Finally, a lovely shot of the deer taken by Phil a few days ago - they have their summer coats now, and the bucks are growing new antlers at an amazing rate. As the weather warms up the bucks are splitting off into social groups and are often seen quite near the public paths as they graze and sunbathe; meanwhile the does are preparing to give birth in the quieter sanctuary areas. If you do ever come across a fawn hiding in long grass or bracken, remember never to touch it or get too close - if the mother can smell a human on her baby, she will abandon it. In a few months you will be able to see the fawns running with the rest of the herd, so we look forward to that.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Hawks, hogs and holidays

What a fantastic day we had today! The sun finally made an appearance, it is the first day of the half term holiday and we had a brilliant show of hawks and owls from Feather Perfect, a local company based in Telford. Hundreds of visitors gathered to watch the flying displays, and some lucky ones were even able to take part. It was a great opportunity to get close to some beautiful birds of prey and really appreciate their speed and agility as they soared across the Mile Meadow paddock and the crowd. I hope that we can have similar days in the future - and that one day I get to be the one with the gloves on handling these magnificent birds!

Last Sunday we had a party to celebrate the five year anniversary of the first turning of the soil in the Walled Garden since its restoration began. In the Bothy you can see displays of photographs from the last five years, including some taken back when the garden was an empty grass field - hard to believe when you compare it with what you see now. The staff and volunteers have done an amazing job in transforming the area, and work is ongoing - now that the old childrens playground has moved into the Shoulder of Mutton playfield, the three new tamworth piglets are hard at work rooting and fertilising the soil so that later in the year it will be turned back into production. The plan is for a flower garden, providing fresh cut flowers for the mansion and tearoom as well as a beautiful area for visitors to enjoy. Here they are on the day of the party:

The wardens have been working a lot on one of our tenanted farms, clearing away old spiral guards from established young hedges, pollarding overgrown and collapsing willows along a brook and removing an old fence so that it can be replaced. It has been a strange week weather-wise - one minute we are wrapped up in fleeces and dodging hailstones, the next minute melting in the hot sun! Other jobs have included burning brash, fixing a few gates and reopening the WWII walk with a new and improved route - now the walk goes through the alcove where previously visitors could not go, and avoids the wet area at the top of the deer park near the tip of Reptons Wood. There are yellow-topped posts and arrow posts to mark the route, so have a go and tell me what you think!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Ravenwatch Part Three

We have flight! On Wednesday we first saw them flying a bit further afield than their tree, and today all three ravens were flying in wide circles and calling with their distinctive 'cronk cronk cronk'. Getting a picture was almost impossible but here is a bit of proof:

The wardens have been helping the garden and events teams this week in setting up for Spring Fair, putting up the marquees and the May Pole. We have also been clearing timber from the old ash plantation near the walled garden with the timber crane, mulching a hedgerow, cutting logs, investigating some old drainage tunnels, planning some new wildlife monitoring methods, repairing our composting toilet, clearing up the masses of litter dropped on the flood meadow as the water receded and three of our team have been doing their chainsaw course on the nearby Dudmaston Estate.

Horse chestnuts are nearly all in leaf now

The weather is warming and the Estate is springing to life: there are birds everywhere, the trees are bursting into leaf and wildflowers are popping up and daubing the landscape with colour. In the deer park the bucks are dropping their antlers - we collect as many as we can to use with our education groups and local schools as well as for props on guided walks. The herd is also starting to split up into different social groups - the older bucks tend to have their group, then the younger ones have theirs while the does start to hang back in the sanctuary areas in preparation for giving birth next month.

This little robin has been making quite an impression with us lately - it hangs around the trees by the deer park bridges and is so inquisitive that if you stand quietly enough with a little treat in your hand he jumps right in! Here, volunteer James has a close encounter - such a shame about that railing!

The wildflower bank near the clock tower at the back of the mansion is coming into bloom with the snakes-head fritillary looking particularly good - last year the rabbits nibbled off the heads before they could come out but this year our pest control is proving successful and the checked purple and white flowers can be seen cropping up all along the bank: