Each week at Letton Hall we enjoy seeing our many guests and visitors but Letton teems with life, even when they are not here! Our neighbours fields are home to flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, but one of the great privileges for the team members who live on site is the variety of wildlife that surrounds us, especially in the summer months.
In the quiet times, when visitors are not around, it is not unusual to see Muntjac deer in the woods or on the driveway and, at times Roe deer on the Spur Field or the neighbouring farmland. Badgers are rare and foxes are occasional visitors, though we may see them more when our chickens arrive! The pen is built and we should get the birds soon.
This year, grey squirrels have been more abundant and very cheeky and we have several rabbit warrens in the grounds, but all most of our guest will see of them are their droppings! Baby rabbits have grown and become more adventurous and several have become victim to the buzzards that frequently fly overhead. Once in a while the frantic barking of one or other of our dogs alerts us to a hedgehog in the garden or grounds, as we seem to have quite a few about.
Not surprisingly, birds are abundant and our garden feeders often attract a wide variety of visitors including rarities such as nuthatches and woodpeckers. Flocks of Long-tailed Tits early in the season have given way to the steady flow of Blue Tits, Great Tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches and we have lots of Robins, Blackbirds and Wrens! One of our trustees took a picture of nesting Greater Spotted Woodpeckers in the spring and the woods are also home to Treecreepers, Jays and Green Woodpeckers. Oh, did I forget to mention the pigeons? At night, we regularly hear and occasionally see Tawny Owls. Other owls have been spotted from time to time, but it is the ubiquitous Tawny who is most at home here.
They say that bumble bees and honey bees are on the decline, but it seems we may be bucking the trend at Letton. Dozens of varieties were nesting here this year and our flower beds were alive with their foraging for weeks on end. We are deliberately planting bee-friendly species to continue to encourage them. Unfortunately wasps don’t need a lot of encouragement and we have had to deal with a couple of nests this year. Sadly that is the other side of the coin; because of what we do here, and the necessary comfort and safety of our guests, some of the creatures that frequent our buildings and grounds are not so welcome. None of us enjoy killing animals or insects without reason, but we do have to keep rodents at bay as well as wasps! Moles can be a problem too and it is sad that most of us never get to see a live one, as they really are amazing little things with their sleek coat and shovels for paws!
Next time you visit, can we encourage you to take a closer (and quieter) look around? You will be amazed what can be seen!