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.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Wildlife sights and sounds

More glorious sunshine has brought out the flora and fauna quite spectacularly. Although the bluebells have started to fade, visitors to Attingham are now greeted with a blaze of golden buttercups as they come up the main drive (with the longhorn cattle lying lazily amongst them!).

More spring sightings are coming in from staff and volunteers. Last week a cuckoo was heard calling from the Woodland Walk - this sound is becoming rarer as, sadly, cuckoo numbers are in decline. The RSPB have put cuckoos on to the Red List for conservation, so we are pleased to have some on and around the Estate. The first swift was spotted flying over the Walled Garden on May 9th, and on the 12th a common lizard was found in the external corner of the vinary, basking in the warmth of the sun (I hope to get the pictures up soon, kindly taken by gardener Katherine).

I cast my eye over the pond in the paddock the other day and saw this spider catch a newly-emerged damselfly, wrestling with it for a minute before claiming it as prey. It's a tough world out there!

On the same day I spotted another teneral (newly-emerged) damselfly, a large red. Tenerals have yet to show their full colour, appearing pale and washed out, and have very shiny wings. Get ready for lots of insect pictures over the coming months!

Finally, have you ever wanted to train to be a National Trust Ranger? The opportunity is now! Traineeships will be advertised on the NT jobsite over the coming weeks, including a position here at Attingham. See for more information - different properties will be advertising at different times, so keep a close eye on the pages if you want to apply.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Spring sightings

That was a bit of a long break! My apologies - life doesn't give you enough hours in the day sometimes.

The Estate is coming alive as spring settles in. Suddenly butterflies are everywhere; over the last few weeks I have spotted Peacocks, Red Admirals, Small Coppers, a Brimstone, Speckled Woods and lots of Orange Tips. The swallows have returned at some of the farms and cottages on the Estate too, though I have yet to see them by the Mansion. I saw my first damselfly of the year a few weeks ago, a large red, always one of the first on the wing. A few days ago the Senior Park and Estate Warden heard a cuckoo calling somewhere near the woodland walk and the bluebells are in full bloom and looking fabulous - this year is proving to be a wonderful one for wild flowers with bulbs. New season, new life!

Recent work by the wardens has included repairs to the fence round the Greedy Pig, clearing away timber from windblown trees, stump removal and levelling of the ride through Repton's Wood for the education tractor and trailer, clearing vegetation around the perimeter fence line, control of docks on the river ground, some expert tree surgery on a tree across the river to allow last weekends Game On! canoeing activity, preparation of the camp ground, strimming, fence repairs for one of our tenant farmers and creating a new plantation in the sports area adjacent to the play field. Plus, of course, the usual daily and weekly jobs, event preparation and Easter activities. Phew!

We have also been using a new piece of kit to observe some of our lesser-seen wildlife. This chap posed beautifully for his night-time debut photoshoot!

I hope to catch footage of some other species over the coming months, so watch this space.