Peak District nestbox bung boost for rare pied flycatchers

More than 100 nestboxes have been ‘uncorked’ as Peak District rangers prepare for the return of a rare migrant bird.

Over 30 pairs of rare pied flycatchers arrive in the ancient oak woodlands at Padley Gorge, near Sheffield, from West Africa every spring.

To make sure there are enough nest boxes for the red-listed birds National Trust rangers stopper the entrance holes to 100 boxes in March to prevent blue tits and great tits from using the homes. Around 20 rangers and volunteers return in April to remove the bungs.

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National Trust ranger Mark Bull removes the cork bungs from pied flycatcher nest boxes in Padley Gorge, near Sheffield. CREDIT: David Bocking

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Formby celebrates 50 years in National Trust care

Rangers, volunteers and campaigners have celebrated 50 years of conservation at Formby.

The mile-long stretch of dunes and pinewoods on the Sefton coast was acquired by the National Trust in 1967, following a £20,000 fundraising appeal.

Father and children on the beach at Formby, Liverpool

Family on Formby beach. (c) Chris Lacey/National Trust Images

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Expert Matthew Oates picks his favourite spring wildlife as holly blue butterfly booms

Britain is enjoying a holly blue butterfly boom as warm temperatures cause spring wildlife to flourish.

National Trust gardeners report one of the best years in decades for the holly blue butterfly, but nature experts confess that the reasons for the butterfly explosion remain a mystery.

Holly blue male in Gloucestershire CREDIT Matthew Oates, National Trust Images.jpg

Holly blue butterfly (c) Matthew Oates/National Trust Images

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Natural Childhood report – five years on

Five years on from the Natural Childhood report more families than ever are enjoying nature at National Trust places.

Last year almost 4.5 million family members visited the conservation charity’s places – with visits growing steadily over the last five years.

BioBlitz5, Copyright National Trust, credit Steven Haywood

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Sheringham rangers report ‘good’ frog spawning season

Rangers at Sheringham Park, Norfolk, have welcomed a ‘good’ year for frog spawn.

In the last month ponds around the country have echoed with the sound of grunting frogs and toads searching for a mate.

Female frogs and toads wake from hibernation swollen with spawn. The spawn is fertilised by the males as it is laid in ponds in late February and early March.

Malcolm Fisher, visitor services manager, said: “It has been a good year for frogs. We have one pond that was absolutely jam packed with frogs this year.

“The toads’ spawning season is just past its peak. There were times when people had to watch where they were walking because there were so many toads on the footpaths, trying to get to our ponds.”

Families visiting Sheringham Park can look forward to seeing the tadpoles grow into froglets and toadlets in the coming weeks.

Mr Fisher added: “We created one pond in the park just seven years ago. It’s a place we encourage families to visit. In the last three years we have had good numbers here.”

The parkland at Sheringham was set out by star Georgian landscape designer Humphrey Repton and is home to a variety of wildlife including chiffchaff, woodpeckers and the holly blue butterfly.

Parkland is one of fifty ‘priority’ wildlife habitats hand-picked by government as needing support. The National Trust aims to create 25,000 hectares of new ‘priority’ nature habitats by 2025 – equivalent to over 30,000 Premier League football pitches.

Find out more about Sheringham Park.

PICTURES: Spring daffodil display at Cornwall’s Cotehele

Bright yellow daffodils banished grey sky blues for Cornish tot Pearl Fogarty.

The four-year-old spent the day in the gardens at Cotehele, near Saltash, Cornwall, which boast more than 250 varieties of daffodils.

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Pearl Fogarty, 4, with the daffodils at Cotehele, Cornwall. Credit: Steven Haywood / National Trust Images

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Spring equinox: could we be in for a hot summer?

National Trust experts have predicted a hot summer could be on the way, as winter finally ends.

The spring equinox, which occurs today, formally marks the end of winter.

Matthew Oates, nature specialist at the National Trust, said: “We’ve had an unusually mild winter – yet again.

“UK-wide it has now been rather dry since mid-August. Perhaps a long, hot summer is brewing?

“Spring, by contemporary standards, is running just about on-time, though its progress will be slowed by cool, wet weather this week.

“However spring performs, the truth is that at spring’s beginning winter can be instantly forgotten.”

Longer, warmer days have seen wildlife begin to wake up at National Trust places across the country.

Rangers and gardeners from the conservation charity have taken to social media to share pictures of spring flowers, leaping lambs and nesting birds.