YOUNG wildlife enthusiasts will get some extra help with wildlife spotting at Beeston Castle and Woodland Park this summer as English Heritage launches a new wildlife trail sheet.
Since the woodland trail opened in May 2008, Beeston Castle’s wildlife has become a real draw for the clifftop castle, with birdwatchers particularly taking advantage of the different woodland habitats to spot rare breeds, including woodpeckers and cuckoos.
However, the novice nature spotter often missed many of the signs that give a clue to the animals that inhabit the site.
“When you are looking for ground-based animals, you’ll often see squirrels and rabbits running around the grounds, but these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our wildlife populations,” says Beeston Castle’s visitor operations manager Mark Hodgson.
“There are several badger colonies hidden in the dense foliage around the site, and although you are unlikely to see a badger during the day, you can easily spot signs of where they have been, including their latrine and scratches on trees where they have been looking for tasty insects to eat.”
The wildlife spotter sheet highlights some of the creatures and signs that visitors should look out for when visiting the site, including photographs to help them identify different species.
For ornithologists, the birdlife on site is also extensive, with a report by Cheshire Ecological Services (the commercial wing of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust) identifying at least 45 species of birds living around the site, including peregrine falcons, meadow pipit, dunnocks, willow warblers and goldcrests.
There are also song thrushes and starlings, both of which are rated as ‘globally threatened’ by the British Trust for Ornithology.
One species of creature that visitors are very unlikely to see, though, is the resident bat population.
At least five distinct species have been identified at Beeston Castle, using the tree lines to navigate to their feeding grounds. These include a nursery colony of Natterer’s bats, as well as pipistrells.
The best chance visitors have of spotting the more unusual wildlife at Beeston Castle is when the site first opens at 10am, as well as in the late afternoon (the site remains open until 6pm every day) when things are a little quieter.
Admission prices to the site are £5.30 for adults, £4.40 for concessions and £2.70 for children. English Heritage members get in free.
For more information, please contact Beeston Castle on 01829 260464 or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/beeston.