- Wildlife Groups
Situated just outside Wakefield, Nostell Priory itself is a former Georgian manor house bequeathed to the National Trust in 1953. I was in West Yorkshire attending a training day so popped in on my way back home for a 2 hour explore of the estate grounds.
The grounds cover some 130 Hectares (about 300 acres) and are fairly typical of such places - gently undulating parkland, grassland, meadowland, several woodland areas and a couple of lakes. There are several walks to follow plus a cycle track and I more or less meandered around the main bits on the 2.5 mile Parkland walk.
Nostell's main claim to fame from a wildlife point of view are its population of bats with nine species recorded here including Daubentons, Noctule and Whiskered, many of which hunt over the 2 medium sized lakes that also support wetland bird species such as Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe and various duck species during the winter months. Not much bird life on the lakes when I visited apart from a few Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot and Moorhen but some impressive displays of Fringed Water Lillies certainly took the eye.
The extensive meadows here are what caught my attention and made the most impression on the day though. It seemed to me that apart from one cattle grazed area, most of the available grassland here has been converted by the National Trust into flower rich meadowlands.
It was an overcast day so not the best weather for wandering across meadows but the wealth of typical plant species such as Yellow Rattle, Mayweed, Birds Foot Trefoil, Common Knapweed and both Red and White Clover were attracting plenty of bees and a few butterfies including Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell.
The former main entrance of the now restored Obelisk gatehouse marks the northern boundary of the estate grounds and from here you can either take the cycle path through mixed deciduous woodland or walk back across yet more wild flower meadows. Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers (scarce birds anywhere in the UK) are sometimes seen around here in winter and I did have a pair of woodpeckers but they were definitely the commoner Great Spotted variety. I did a bit of both, admiring both the range of tree species with many Sweet Chesnut and Limes, and hopelessly trying to identify the numerous grasses on the meadow (who doesn't struggle with grasses and sedges!).
It was rather overcast on the day I visited and I dare say that on a warm sunny day there would have been more butterflies over the meadows and dragonflies across the lakes. Bird species were few and far between too but again, middle of the afternoon in mid summer, what can you expect? I had a few Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 3 Oystercatchers on the lawn in front of the main house and a gaggle of a dozen or so young Mistle Thrushes.
Obelisk Walk (popular walk through the meadows at Nostell)
Related pages from Yorkshires Wildlife
Nearby nature reserves / wildlife sites
Southern Washlands (Local Nature Reserve)
Fitzwilliam Country Park (Local Nature Reserve)
Anglers Country Park (Local Nature Reserve)