Birds and Red Squirrels of the YDNP
Why would farmers in the Dales opt for less cost-effective options for cutting their hay meadows? Because they have bought into the Agri-environmental scheme operated within the National Parks and wish to conserve species like the ground nesting Yellow wagtail while they are still feeding young. In his two-part address to the Wharfedale Nats, Ian Court, Wildlife Conservation Officer for the YDNP, described the Statutory Purposes set out by National Parks Board two of which being the involvement of local communities along with wildlife conservation. Ian then identified the key bird species found at different habitats in the Dales. The upland heather moorlands and blanket moss are special protection areas due to their importance for carbon storage and flood prevention. Here legally protected birds such as Merlin and Hen harriers come into conflict with the interests of grouse shooting. The moorland fringe is vital for birds such as Black grouse. The valley bottoms are agriculturally important as well as species rich. Birds such as lapwing, dippers, pied flycatchers, haunt these areas.
Ian moved on to Red squirrel conservation. We all know that this ancient native species is drastically threatened by the Grey and the lethal Pox it brings. Historically Reds were found as close as Bingley and Grass Wood but now, Snaizeholme near Hawed is the only easily accessible place in the Dales where close-up views of the tufted-eared Reds are guaranteed. The efforts of the WDNP in encouraging interest in wildlife brings economic benefits to the local economy and hopefully the next generation of environmentalists. The feeding station for the Red squirrels of Snaizeholme and the viewing point to watch Peregrines at Malham Cove are two major success stories. December 19th, Tim Mellor is Walking with Penguins.