This blog is written by employees of Nottinghamshire County Council, the views in this blog are personal and may not be shared by the County Council.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Storytelling

Here are a few images from the recent Christmas Storytelling at Rufford Abbey Country Park.


It was a great success, with thanks to the scouts, story teller, Ranger Service and all volunteers!!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Autumn finally coming..............

Here is a melee of photos taken recently at Rufford, the leaves are finally starting to drop and frosts are upon us.........

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Tree of the Week

HAZEL- Corylus Avellana

Hazel can be found throughout the UK, commonly seen in the understory of lowland oak, ash and birch woodland as well as in hedgerows. It can often be confused with Elm, as they have similar looking leaves, however hazel are a lot smoother.

  • Hazel is often coppiced and can live for several hundreds years but when left to grow, it can reach a height of 12m. Hazel was grown in the UK for large-scale nut production until the early 1900s. Cultivated varieties (known as cob-nuts) are still grown in Kent, but most of our hazelnuts are now imported. 
  •  It's bark is smooth, grey-brown, which peels with age. Leaves tend to be more oval with a pointed tip, hairs on the underside and toothed on the edges.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Just a bump in the night? or something more sinister?

Do you believe in the paranormal? Would you be willing to spend a couple of hours in one of the most haunted properties in Nottinghamshire? 
If so, join us on one of Ruffords Ghost Tours this winter. The Northern Ghost Research and Investigation Team - UK (NGRIT) will be conducting their investigations around the Abbey ruins and surrounding area on Thursday 20th October and Tuesday 20th December.

Patrick Firth, founder and lead investigator for NGRIT said: “Rufford Abbey is one of our favourite locations for research, it is extremely paranormally active and one of the most fascinating sites we regularly like to investigate, we are delighted to be hosting another ghost walk here.

Tickets on sale in Tourist Information 10:30am-4:30pm 01623 821338

£10 per person, No under 16's, Pre-booking and payment essential.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Tree of The Week

SWEET CHESTNUT - Castanea Sativa
It was thought that the Sweet Chestnut was first introduced into Britain by the Romans, but today it can be found in large areas of woodland and coppicing plantations which the timber is used for fencing.

  • Look out for the purple-grey bark which develops deep ridges with age. They can grow up to 35m tall and 700 years old.
  • The leaves are glossy green and grown up to 25cm long. They are toothed around the edge, with a center line and finish with a tipped point at the bottom of the leaf. Green spiky shells also appear on the branches, these are the fruits which have been pollinated. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Moth Recording

Moth Recording 
Here are some of our recent findings at Rufford. Poplar Hawk Moth, Bordered Beauty, Yellow-barred Brindle, Coxcomb Prominent, Angle Shades, Canary-shouldered Thorn and a cheeky Bush Cricket.

From setting up a basic moth trap (seen in the picture below) with a light fixed in the centre and empty egg cartons (where the moths shelter) in the wooden box, we can draw in the moths over night and record our findings in the morning. During this process no moths come to any harm and are all let free. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Friends of Bestwood Country Park

Here is a link to a great website by the Friends of Bestwood Country Park.

They were formed in late 2007 and focus on activities in Bestwood Country Park.
"The group’s aim overall is to promote the interests of our big beautiful park, its habitats and flora and fauna as well as its many human visitors and its historic buildings, and to serve as an active means of communication and co-operation between all users."

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Teamwork makes the dream work

Recently we all undertook a Lantra approved 4x4 training course, destination Bestwood Country Park due to it's challenging terrain.
Lots of things were covered including; failed hill start, winch rescue and working as a team to navigate through dense woodland.

We undertake these courses to better understand the vehicles we use on site but also so that we can apply the skills learnt in everyday running of a Country Park.
We used both our site vehicle and the trainer's Landrover to test the differences, and to see which one was better for different reasons. Both did very well on all tasks with the Ford Ranger just pipping the Landrover to be crowned the best all rounder. 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Operation Bestwood

Recent goings on at Bestwood include;
  • Building steps down a Horse Trail so the riders can descend safely
  • Meadow sweeping to see what lies in the grasses of a Bestwood
  • Tree felling to open up light into existing pathways
  • Ragwort pulling on the Pit Top so this species does not invade too much space

Friday, 8 July 2016

Fox caught on camera again

Once again the Fox has been up to lots of shenanigans, seen here playing with a ball possibly???

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

New beginnings

As May turns to June Rufford Rangers are having to change the way they operate. From the 1st of June our colleagues from Bestwood Country Park will be joining us here at Rufford to run both parks together from one base so we hope you will join us in offering a warm welcome to Steve, Rob and Steve. The next few months will be interesting as all the team get to know one another and settle in to their new surroundings and new routines. There are many differences between the parks so it will take some time for them to get to know the areas, habitats and wildlife.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Tree of the Week

LIME - Tilia x europaea

Native to the UK, the common Lime is a hybrid between Small-leaved and Large leaved Limes. Common lime is most often seen as an ornamental tree in large parks and estates. Here at Rufford, the lime trees make up what was once the old driveway, from the Western gates main entrance (A614) to the Abbey's grand doors.
(During the war, lime blossom was used to make a soothing tea).

  • Look out for the heart shaped leaves. Usually 6-10cm,  toothed on the outer side and dull green in colour.
  • The bark is a grey-brown, with ridges appearing on more mature trees and large burrs (abnormal growth) at the base of the tree.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Cygnets again.

Good news again this year, the Swan has had 7 cygnets and they are all in good health.

Also seen on site today was a female Orange-Tip Butterfly on Red Campion.

Here is a close up of one of the cygnets.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Tree of the Week

HORNBEAM - Carpinus Betulus

The Hornbeam, horn meaning 'hard' and beam 'tree' in old English, is traditionally used for furniture and flooring due to it's hard wood, as it's name suggests. Native to Britain it is a deciduous (leaves fall in winter) broadleaf tree, growing up to 30m tall and 300 years old.

  • Look out for it's smooth grey bark, often developing  vertical fissures (cracks) as it ages. The leaves are oval and pointed with serrated edges and grows 7-12cm long. In Autumn the leaves look particularly attractive, turning yellow through to orange and then a reddish- brown. 
  •  In the Autumn, Finches and tits along with small mammals will eat the seeds. The plant is also food for caterpillars of many different moth species, including the nut tree tussock.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Tree of the Week

SYCAMORE - Acer Pseudoplatanus

Sycamore is a fast growing and sometimes invasive tree, it tends to dominate woodlands blocking other species out. It can grow up to 35m and live to 400 years old. The timber is used for making furniture and kitchenware as the wood is strong and does not taint or stain the food. 

  • Look out for the bright green leaves in spring, they can often be mistaken for maple. They have five lobes (called palmate leaves) with spikey edges.
  • The bark is a grey like colour, broken up by numerous fissures (cracks) revealing an orange texture underneath.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A few recent happenings

The swallows have arrived back!! They have returned from Africa and taken up residence in last years nest. Kingfisher cam caught.....no Kingfishers but instead this appeared. It is a Female Sparrowhawk.

Whilst waiting for contractors to arrive on site I also took these, copper Beech leaves and a panoramic of the Abbey.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Tree of the Week

Norway Maple - Acer Platanoides

Native to Northern Europe, this tree was first introduced into Britain in the 17th Century. It can often be found as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens and also as a street tree, mainly due to it's tolerance of compacted soils, shade and pollution.

  • Look out for the domed crown and smooth, grey and sometimes rigid bark. Before the leaves, yellowish/green flowers appear in clusters of 30-40. 
  • Leaves are bright green and smooth with 5 rigid lobes (sometimes an additional 2 at the bottom), very similar to the field maple and sycamore 

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Kingfisher Cam.

Recently we have had regular sightings of the Kingfishers at Rufford, so we set about putting our TrailCam out to try and catch them on film, initially we had nothing and then this little beaut of a video popped up!!

Both the Male and Female appear in this video, at this time of year they are pairing up, they can have up to 3 broods a year!!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Summer migrants flying in

A lot of birds migrate to Europe and Africa during the harsh Autumn/Winter months but then return in the Summer. A whole host of Warblers have starting arriving such as Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler and Blackcap (male below). 

The Swallows have arrived back too, a week later than last year but they are straight back eyeing up last years nest ready to have up to three broods of young again.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Tree of the Week

Wild Cherry- Prunus Avium

A large deciduous (sheds it's leaves) tree, native to the UK and Europe, except the far north. It grows best in fertile soil and full sunlight. This is a popular tree, planted for it's spring blossom and used by birds to feed from the fruit.

  • Look out for the clusters of white cup shaped flowers, flowering in April-May. The leaves will be oval with pointed tips, fading orange and deep crimson in autumn 
  • The bark tends to be brown/red with with horizontal lines, starting to peel and fissure with age

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Spring is on its way!!!

Has Spring finally sprung???

Frogspawn has been spotted, and the odd Bluebell coming through (still a few more weeks until the woodland floor is carpeted with them though so just hold out for that photo opportunity). 

The Wildflower meadow has been chain-harrowed to get rid of any old material lying on the top, hindering those wildflowers reaching for the sun.

Monday, 14 March 2016

College and volunteer's combined efforts.

Here at Rufford we have a loyal set of Saturday volunteers and a fresh new set of college groups that undertake tasks on site.
This weeks task was to start laying the 130m of fencing needed to border a pathway used by the public, and both groups have done great!!!

Estate skills are part of the College's syllabus so they are more than keen to crack on with fencing, and the volunteers will do anything you throw at them. The 'slightly' muddy path will be laid with hard chippings in the future so that this whole pathway will sport a new updated look.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Tree of the Week

Hawthorn -Crataegus Monogyna

A small, spreading deciduous (loses it's leaves in winter) tree. It is commonly used for hedgerows as the thorny twigs which are densely packed, act as a good barrier and it's resilience to survive in harsh conditions.
  • Look out for the clusters of white or sometimes pink tinged flowers in late spring, followed by the ripe fruit (red berries) from October. Berries are a valuable food for birds such as Fieldfares and Redwing and small mammals such as Bank Vole and Wood Mice.
  • The bark tends to be brown-grey with orange layers lower down. As it ages it forms a fissured pattern with algae sometimes forming. The leaves are small and deeply 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tree of the Week

Silver birch -Betula Pendula

Native to the UK and Europe, this is a fast growing and sometimes invasive tree, growing up to 30m tall. Birch trees are associated with specific fungi particularly Birch Polypore (razor strop), which is a bracket fungus that grows on the trunk.

  • Identifiable by it's silvery white bark, often flaking away and revealing greyer patches below. 
  • The leaves on a birch are up to 7cm, triangular and pointed with large jagged edges separated by smaller ones. In the Autumn the leaves turn a golden yellow before dropping.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tree of the Week

Scots Pine -Pinus Sylvestris 

Scots Pine is one of only three conifers native to the British Isles, being more open and flat topped with a long trunk. The bark tends to be red-grey/brown lower down and red-orange higher up with a flaking scale like appearance.

  • Look out for the blue-green paired needles, 5-10cm long, along with the egg shaped pine cones 5-8cm, which become light brown and rounder as they mature.
  • This is a useful timber tree, producing wood for buildings, furniture, telegraph poles and chipboard.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Build a Bird Box success!

Well once again the Bird Box event was a sell out success, loads of new homes were made for lots of the garden birds around the county. People aged 3-83 enjoyed hammering nails into wood to create new homes for wildlife.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Bird Ringing

Two recent bird ringing sessions provided us with some close up views of everyday birds.
Above we have a male Bullfinch, Marsh Tit, male Goldcrest and a male Siskin. 
Other birds caught during the sessions included, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Coal Tit.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Tree of the week

Candy Tree- Candyus Maximus

This tree is a one off native of Rufford Country Park, no other Candy Tree exists. It can grow up to 85m in height and trunk diameter of 10m.
  • The bark is white and sparkly. It provides candy canes for children who behave themselves at Christmas.
  • It has no leaves just really really really really sparkly glittery bark and branches, and lights up blue and white during Christmas time.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Events 2016

Check out the header tab EVENTS 2016 for a list of upcoming events.
This includes, build a bird box, brass bands and many more!!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Tree of the Week

Wellingtonia-Sequoiadendron giganteum

Evergreen and coniferous,the Wellingtonia is native to California and outstandingly large. It can grow up to 85m in height and trunk diameter of 10m.
  • The bark is thick, spongy and rich red-brown in colour. It provides niches that are used by roosting birds, in particular Treecreepers.
  • The scale-like leaves tend to curve away from the twig with egg shaped cones ripening from green to brown in the second autumn, growing 4-5cm 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Windblown damage

Today we were out clearing up a tree which had been damaged in the wind.

After high winds are forecast we survey the park and make a note of trees that have come down.

We prioritise the trees on pathways, near desire lines and near any buildings.

The one in the photo was over a desire line used by people who walk their dogs, so we acted swiftly and got it down with the use of a chainsaw and a winch.

We made the area safe after felling and cleared any wood off the desire line.

Some trees are left as standing deadwood if they are away from pathways as they are a good habitat for beetles and in turn will provide food for birds around the park.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Tree of the Week

Blue Atlas Cedar -Cedrus atlantica

From the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco, this tree is narrow at first, becoming wider with age. Branches are ascending with fairly short blue-green or dark green needles. The bark tends to be dark grey in colour.
  • An easy way to identify the tree is to look for the short blue-green needles and upright barrel shaped cones (smaller to that of the Cedar of Lebanon) which take around two years to mature. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

Tree of the Week

Cedar of Lebanon -Cedrus libani

The Cedar is both evergreen and coniferous, native to Lebanon, it was brought over to the UK in the 1740's onwards as an ornamental tree in stately homes and mansions. Known for it's unique shape, it's broadly rounded with a shelf like flat top, growing up to 35m tall. The bark is greyish-dark brown developing scaly ridges on older trees.

  • An easy way to identify the tree is to look for the long, erect, barrel shaped cones (7-10cm) and dark green needle like leaves.
  • Look out for 'Charlie' another Cedar of Lebonan (we have three on site) and discover the story behind it's name.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Barn Owl footage

Below is a snippet of footage from our Rufford Barn Owls of last year.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Tree of the Week

HOLLY -Ilex aquifolium

Holly is mostly seen in gardens and often used for hedges, but it can also form a substantial tree (up to 20m tall). The leaves tend to be spikey, glossy and dark green in colour, towards the base of the tree (to protect itself from wildlife grazing) and smother, less spikey towards the top of the tree. Holly bark tends to be smooth and grey, forming small pimples, often becoming silvery grey in older trees.

  • An easy way to identify this tree is to look for the red berries, popular with Mistle Thrush and Holly Blue butterfly.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Tree Of The Week

YEW -Taxus baccata

The Yew tree is one of the world's longest lived trees, with some more than 2,000 years old. Crowns in young trees tend to be coned-shaped, becoming columnar, then domed. Yews are evergreen trees which means they keep their leaves during the winter, making them green all year round. All parts of the tree, except the aril, are poisonous to humans and livestock.

  • An easy way to identify the yew is to look out for the red aril, 1cm long with a black seed. The bark tends to be scaly and red-brown and purplish in colour.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Highlight of 2015, twit twoooooo..........

Finally we can share some amazing news from 2015.
Remember this old post??? Click here!
The Janitors built an Owl box to specification made from materials we had laying around.

And we are delighted to inform you that 3 happy healthy chicks fledged from it last year!!!!

Video to follow.

Friday, 1 January 2016