By John Grainger, Property editor
There must be something about birds, because many of us can’t get enough of them.
We buy bird tables, hang up peanut feeders and build nesting boxes. Perhaps it’s just because they’re about the only kind of wildlife that will still come near us, or perhaps there’s something compelling about their gravity-defying “lifestyle choice”.
After all, householders – especially the nobility – have kept birds for centuries: raptors for hunting, fowl for eating and some, like peacocks, just for decoration.
The Lascelles family at Harewood House went to the extreme, setting up their own massive bird garden, with scores of species from all over the world, from Burrowing Owls to Laughing Thrushes.
The following four properties all offer bird-centred treats – not on the scale of Harewood, obviously, but rather desirable nevertheless for the right kind of ornithophile (or bird-lover).
The Lodge at Healey (below, middle), four miles west of Masham, is a large detached house in a stunning rural setting. Taken as a whole, it has six bedrooms, five reception rooms, three bathrooms, two garages, a library and a study, but the rear wing can function as a separate two-bedroom cottage with separate access and would be ideal as a relatives’ annexe or holiday let.
The house is very private and secluded, set in a mix of formal grounds, cottage gardens and natural woodland which provide a real haven for wildlife and birds, including woodpeckers.
Heaton House (main pic, above), near Boroughbridge, is an even grander affair. This magnificent country house not only has three bedrooms and four reception rooms, but a hamlet of other properties besides, including a two-bedroom cottage, a one-bed flat, offices, garages, a workshop and estate office.
The whole is set in seven acres of gardens and grounds, including vast lawns, a tennis court and large pond, which is a magnet for wildlife and has its own picturesque duck-house.
Coming back down to earth – but only just – Pond House Farm (above) is a grade II-listed five-bedroom Georgian farmhouse in Arkendale.
Arranged around a cobbled courtyard, its numerous outbuildings include a large barn, a stable building with hayloft, two garages, a workshop and various stores, which could have a range of potential uses. In fact, the owners have commissioned architect’s drawings for residential conversion of the barns and the council have given their support, subject to submission of the drawings.
The property overlooks the Mar – the pond in the house’s name – and also has beautiful gardens, a small paddock and a birch copse.
The pièce de résistance, though, is the grade II-listed Georgian dovecote, which has recently been refurbished.
Finally, as if to prove that having birds on your property isn’t just the preserve of the wealthy and landed, 3 Teasel Grove (left) is a two-bedroom semi-detached bungalow on a corner plot in a quiet cul-de-sac in Harrogate.
It has off-street parking and a larger-than-average garage/workshop (which could be converted to living accommodation or an annexe).
It also has low-maintenance gardens – complete with bird-table and chicken-run. What more could an ornithophile ask for?