Counting the wildlife that’s counting on us

August 23, 2019

Scotland is renowned as a wildlife destination and home to more than 90,000 species. The way we look after our grounds and gardens really matters to species that are declining and we need to do our part to protect Scotland’s wildlife for the future.

Wildlife Survey

Our ten acres of gardens are home to a lot of wonderful garden wildlife, on any given day you can see red and grey squirrels, garden birds and even red deer. At the end of March, with the help of local expert, Nick Mclean-Thorsen we carried out a study to provide a clearer picture of the type of wildlife and species that were regular visitors at Rufflets.

Birds

Along with more commonly sighted garden birds such as wrens, blackbirds, blue tits, and greenfinches, over the course of a three-day day survey in Spring, a number of bullfinches, chaffinches, dunnocks, goldfinches, greenfinches, long-tailed tits, pied wagtails, robins and tree-creepers were all spotted. Having a pair of binoculars ready made it easier to spot interesting birds that appeared and disappeared frustratingly quickly including a buzzard, kestrel, lesser spotted woodpecker and pheasant. Providing natural food, cover and nesting sites will help us attract more birds year-round. Around the grounds we have a lot of naturally dense areas for nesting as well as natural areas for bathing and a rich supply of food.

Bees

There are approximately 24 different species of bumblebee in the UK and 19 of those can be found in Scotland. Two of the most common species are buff-tail and northern white-tail bumblebees which are black, yellow and white in colour, but common carder bees are also quite easy to identify because they’re bright orange.

By planting for nectar and having some early and late flowers in our planting mix, our gardening team are able to prolong the nectar season for bumblebees and allows them to visit our gardens repeatedly. Bumble bees are vitally important for pollinating hundreds of plant species, including many crops, so we do our part to ensure we nurture bees too.

Squirrels

Once the most common squirrel across the UK, red squirrels have undergone a population decline due to competition for food and living space by the invasive non-native, American grey squirrel. Grey squirrels also carry Squirrelpox – a virus lethal to reds but not to greys. Red squirrels can more often be spotted out near the Gatehouse at Rufflets and the greys on the lower garden.

Red Deer

If you are really lucky you may spot one a Red Deer coming through the south eastern corner of the gardens at day break and resting in the long grass by the old orchard. The Red Deer live on the open mountains and moorlands of Scotland and are one of the largest wild animals standing 4ft high at the shoulder with a large appetite!

While these notoriously shy creatures are fascinating to observe at such close proximity, they can occasionally be a nuisance. Our head gardener tries to find ways to discourage our deer visitors from devouring rose buds as they become more skilled in his tactics and move to other areas of the gardens. Please do let us know if you have any tips that we can pass onto Phil?

By ensuring that we continue to provide food, water, shelter and a place to breed for any of our wildlife visitors we can continue to enjoy them in the gardens and grounds at Rufflets. Next time you are visiting, do let us know if you spot any wildlife we may have missed in our survey.

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