With an area of Parham parkland designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it comes as no surprise that the gardens and park are home to fallow deer, rare lichen, English crickets and plenty of other native wildlife.
When the gardens open in Spring the first of the summer migrant flocks are starting to arrive. In late March/early April the Chiff-chaff is the first and can be found by its song after which it is named.
Swallows follow soon after and within weeks are seen flying around the gardens, usually returning to their nests, including in the Garden Shop year after year. The House Martens come a little later, building their nests under the eaves of the House and around the Clock Tower.
The last summer migrant to arrive is the Spotted Flycatcher, in May – it can be seen perched on the back of a garden seat, making short flights out and back, catching a passing insect. Its song is a squeaky note, a bit like a wheel in need of oil.
Parham is a great haven for all three species of Woodpecker. The Green and Great Spotted are the most likely to be seen around the gardens, the Lesser Spotted spending most of its time in the older trees out in the parkland.
Blue Tits and Great Tits are very common here, but three other species can be seen too. The Long Tailed Tit is usually to be seen towards the end of summer after nesting, when, with sometimes as many as 15 offspring, the whole family take a tour of the garden.
The Marsh Tit (hardly ever seen near a marsh) is a rather pale grey bird with a black cap and a very distinctive call, a sharp “pitchu!..pitchu”.
The Coal Tit has a distinctive white patch running up the back of its head – it’s inclined to spend most of its time at the top of conifer trees singing its high-pitched little song.
The Tree Creeper is a small woodland bird that frequents the trees in the grounds. Like a little mouse it starts at the foot of a tree and moves upwards in rather jerky movements looking for insects in the bark.
The Nuthatch is the only bird able to come down a tree head-first – it is a very attractive bird, with pale underparts white to buff, slate grey back and head with a black stripe through the eye.
Keep a lookout for Britain’s smallest bird: the Goldcrest. It often frequents the bushes but can be found almost anywhere, particularly where there are Yew trees, and can be detected by its thin tinkling song.
The Thrush family is represented by the very common Blackbird, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush, the latter being by far the most common thrush in the Park.
Listen too for the beautiful songs of the Blackcap, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler – they are all excellent songbirds, usually very difficult to see as they sing from deep undergrowth or leaf cover.
The Finches include the Chaffinch and Greenfinch, and the Goldfinch is usually seen in the Spring looking for nest sites in the apple trees.
Crows can be seen over the gardens – the one seen most often is the smaller Jackdaw, sometimes wheeling in large flocks over nearby woodland. Loud screeching of the Jay can also be heard – it is very colourful when seen close up, and it is a destructive though shy bird. The Magpie’s chatting call is often heard coming from trees north of the garden.
Looking skywards you may be rewarded by sightings of Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. The much larger Buzzard is increasingly common, soaring up with its large broad wings.
There are many other avian visitors, including the Wren, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock and Hedge Sparrow to name just a few.