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Wild About...

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July 2019

Castle Howard has played host to some exceptional guests in the past; the cast of Brideshead Revisited, indie sensation the Arctic Monkeys and Queen Victoria herself to name just a few, but this year sees the historic house welcome an altogether different kind of guest. Rather spiny with a real wild side and questionable table manners, yes we’re talking about hedgehogs! Castle Howard has teamed up with charity Hoggies Respite to provide a safe and welcome home to hogs in need.
This partnership comes at a crucial time for hedgehogs. Their numbers have declined dramatically over the last 10 years and with fewer than 1 million thought to be left in the UK, these endearing creatures are disappearing from our countryside. However, help is at hand and the small but dedicated team at Hoggies Respite are busily working to help our hedgehogs get back on their feet. With over 190 sick and injured hedgehogs rehabilitated and released back into the wild in 2018 alone, their work plays a vital part in conserving this iconic species.
Maggie Farmer is one of the founders of Hoggies Respite, ‘every hedgehog needs a home and with acre upon acre of hedgerows, woodland and parkland, Castle Howard is the perfect release site for rehabilitated hogs. It’s fantastic to know that our hedgehogs will find a safe home here and hopefully help populations thrive.’Now in their 5th year, Hoggies Respite and their volunteers are working round the clock to care for mothers and their young who have become too vulnerable to make it on their own. Among the hedgehogs to be released at Castle Howard are orphans Fred, Ginger and Edd as well as Mama Mama, a strong mother hedgehog with 6 little hoglets.
Here at Castle Howard, we are thrilled to be part of the excellent work done by the team at Hoggies Respite. Our natural landscape and the wildlife that live here are just as important as the historic buildings in our care and they too need conserving. We look forward to welcoming the first set of hedgehogs as they make their journey back into the wild.



April 2019

Owls are truly stunning creatures and it’s one of life’s special moments when you spot a barn owl gliding through the landscape, silent and ghostly pale against the dusky sky. Leave it to just the right time of evening and if you’re lucky, you might see one swooping across the Lime Avenue. Eyes fixed on the ground below, it seems to see straight through you, transfixed in a world of predator and prey and listening intently for the soft rustle of mice below.
What is it about these birds that is so fascinating? Just hearing the twit and twoo of a tawny owl as the light fails around you can send a shiver down your spine; a strange mixture of excitement, wonder and is that a slight hint of fear? A nocturnal creature that calls from the darkness, cloaked in folk lore and with large bewitching eyes, hearing an owl seems to draw us back into our childhoods - a world of dark and dangerous woods, fairy tales, witches and the big bad wolf.
It’s a real pleasure to have these beautiful and fascinating birds breeding on the Estate and this spring we’ve been working  to provide new nesting sites for owls. By installing new nest boxes across the Estate we hope that they will provide the perfect sites for owls and their owlets this season.
Long may they delight and spook us.


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