Each season at the park brings its own delights. In the winter it may seem as though the park is sleeping but there is still plenty to see, including the famous Lydiard display of snowdrops (Galanthus) and the yellow flowers of the lesser celandine. Spring sees the blossom and bulbs; meanwhile the blackbirds and thrushes are claiming their territories and the grey squirrels indulge in their courtship chases! High summer is a particularly busy time in the glorious walled garden whilst autumn is vivid with berries and the leaves turning bronze and gold.
The park has a great wildlife diversity: Amongst a range of reptile and amphibian species there are newts, grass snake, common lizard, toads and frogs. Mammals that inhabit the park include foxes, badgers and deer whilst the lakes provide habitat for a variety of water fowl such as coot, moorhen, great crested grebe, tufted duck, mallard duck, Canada geese, little grebe, common tern, herring gulls and swans.
There are many other bird species in the woods including nuthatches, tree creepers, thrush and pied wagtails. You may hear the loud tap of the great spotted woodpecker and at dawn and dusk the call of the tawny owl. Whenever you visit, there is so much to explore.
This year the Big Butterfly Count will run from Friday 17th July to Sunday 9th August when thousands of people across the UK will be recording the butterflies that they see in gardens, parks, woodlands and any other open spaces. Butterflies are a beautiful and important part of the UK’s wildlife. As well as being a key indicator of the health of the environment, they are also a key part of the food chain and are pollinators for plants.
July is a month when a lot of the UK’s 59 species of butterfly are on the wing although which species you see when depends on weather. As we have had a warm spring, a lot of butterflies have come out early this year. Whilst the beautiful Tortoiseshell butterfly and the Red Admiral may be more familiar, there are plenty of less well-known butterflies that you may see if you are out and about in Lydiard Park. Look out for the Meadow Brown, which has orange patches on its brown wings and a black circle with a white dot in the centre. Another common but often overlooked butterfly is the beautiful Speckled Wood (pictured.) One of the more spectacular is a migrant butterfly called the Painted Lady which travels to the UK in summer from the desert fringes of North Africa and Asia. (pictured.)
To take part in the butterfly count, all you need to do is record the number of butterflies that you see in one place over a 15-minute period. You can find out more about the project here and download a chart to help you identify the less well-known butterflies. There is more information on UK butterflies on the Butterfly Conservation website.
Read our latest Tales of Lydiard article about Vernon Henry St John, 6th Viscount Bolingbroke, to discover his interest in natural history and more about butterflies at Lydiard Park.