Summer in Haddon Medieval Park is a wonderful time of year. The birds, butterflies and bees are at their busiest, the young animals are out exploring their new world, and the meadows are full of colourful wildflowers.
This summer was a scorcher, of course, with the UK experiencing the highest temperatures ever recorded here. This meant that much of the wildlife in the parkland was less visible as a result, seeking shelter from the heat in the plentiful undergrowth and under the trees. The River Wye which runs through the Medieval Park continued flowing, albeit at far lower levels than usual, but alarmingly the underground spring that has supplied Haddon Hall with water for centuries dried up for the first time in recorded history.
Only time will tell the impact that the increasingly frequent hot, dry summers will have upon the many wild species that call this place home, but the continuing risks of climate change to our wildlife make our protection of this precious landscape even more important.
Haddon Medieval Park is home to 26 different species of butterflies, including a number that are classified as rare or endangered. We have regular surveys by local conservation groups to monitor the populations and record new species.
We were very excited this summer to learn of new sightings of White Letter Hairstreak butterflies within Haddon Medieval Park. This species has declined by as much as 96% over the last 40 years due to the loss of Elm trees, on which it breeds, caused by Dutch Elm Disease.
For the first time this year we also spotted Silver Washed Fritillary butterflies in the parkland. This large, graceful butterfly with a swooping flight is a beautiful sight in summer.
Exploring Haddon Medieval Park
This Summer saw a full programme of events in Haddon Medieval Park, from specialist Wildlife Walks and our ever-popular Parkland Tours, to full-day Photography Workshops.
In July we were joined by renowned naturalist and author Christine Gregory, who led an enthusiastic group along the peaceful banks of the River Wye to learn about the wildlife and plants of the water. Attendees saw kingfishers, dippers, wagtails, mayflies and hundreds of brightly-coloured banded demoiselles.
On warm days in July and again in August we were treated to Butterflies & Meadow Life Walks by conservationist Steve Orridge, when attendees were able to discover not just the Medieval Park’s many butterfly species but also the birds, insects and small mammals that live in our woodland pastures.
A lovely group of enthusiastic photographers enjoyed a full-day Photography Workshop in July. They were given tuition in how to get the best out of their cameras and were shown many hidden spots within the normally private parkland that offer perfect landscape, wildlife and architecture photographic opportunities, including inside the 17th Century dovecote.
Our experienced guides also led four Parkland Tours throughout the summer, explaining the landscape and ecology of the parkland as well as the history of the Park and its importance to Haddon Hall in medieval times.
We are planning many more exciting new events in the Medieval Park for 2023, including a Dawn Chorus Morning, a Forest Bathing Morning, a Bat Walk and a Moth Evening, as well as further chances to attend all our most popular events from this year.
Haddon Medieval Park has some of the best examples of Ash Trees (Fraxinus excelsior) in the country, although these magnificent trees are under grave threat throughout the UK from Ash Dieback, a fungal disease which causes leaf loss and ultimately kills the trees. Some experts are predicting that it may cause the death of 95% of the UK’s Ash trees within the next 30 years. Each Ash tree can support up to 1,000 other species, so Ash Dieback represents a devastating loss to wildlife as well as to our landscape.
We are busily replanting Ash trees throughout Haddon Medieval Park and the wider Haddon Estate using seeds gathered from our trees that appear to be disease-resistant, in the hope of rearing new generations of healthy trees for the future.
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To keep up to date with developments in Haddon Medieval Park as we regenerate this ancient landscape, please follow us on our Facebook and Instagram accounts, where we post regular updates throughout the seasons.