Alderley Park / The Stanley Family


Natural History of the Park, Buildings Amid Nature

The natural environment of Alderley Park is not a static one; in recorded history it never has been. Its value resides not in the way it preserves primitive habitats, but in the way it protects endangered ones. Thus, it stands in an area which is heavily populated and which even a thousand years ago was being stripped of its natural oak woods. This makes it even more important that the wildlife here is protected in a refuge which, because of its limited public access, holds far more natural wealth than other local sites of similar size.

Over 125 acres (50 hectares) of Alderley Park are designated by county authorities as Grade A or Grade B Sites of Biological Interest. Amongst the most important wildlife are large and thriving badger sets, Cheshire’s third largest heronry, rookeries with over 100 nests, large winter duck populations, a small colony of the endangered great crested newt, bat roosts, colonies of three or four species of wild orchids, lakes and ponds which support a wealth of fish and aquatic life and much more besides.

In 1978, a pair of herons nested on the island for the first time since the nineteenth century. The number of nests on the island has increased every calendar year since then. In 1999, the total number of nests reached 44, making the heronry possibly the second largest in Cheshire! In late April the heronry is a remarkable sight, since it can be safely viewed, unlike any other in the area, from less than forty metres.

To descend briefly into statistics, the following have been recorded, nearly all in recent years, here in Alderley Park:- 171 species of birds, 33 of mammals, 4 of amphibians, 3 of reptiles, 23 of fish, 22 butterflies, 18 dragonflies, 385 wild flowers, 68 species of tree, 51 mosses and 241 fungi – amongst others! Thus it may be seen that, in a part of England which is relatively poor in wildlife, AstraZeneca has inherited a rich and challenging home.

With many thanks to Mr. George Hill and Mr. Andrew Broome, Astra Zeneca, for contributing the Alderley Park/Stanley Family articles.

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