Dr. Tim Melling – Wildlife of the Pennines
Last Tuesday evening our members expected big things and Dr. Tim Melling, of the RSPB, did not disappoint us. In delivering his superb lecture entitled “Wildlife of the Pennines”, Dr. Melling took us on a whistle stop tour of the Pennine uplands around his home showing us the vast array of Flora and Fauna to be found in the area. Commencing on the very tops, we were given a fascinating layman’s view of the geological forces that have helped frame the area. We learned about how blanket bogs, consisting of Sphagnum mosses, can lock-in lots of Carbon if looked after properly. We also heard of the secrets of the birds to be observed such as Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe and many more. We were shown superb shots of both cock and hen Ring Ouzels and saw the exquisite silver hair net lining of the lower body set off against the black of the feathers. How many of us knew that as she aged the hen bird could be as black as the Cock?
The speaker also spoke about protecting nesting birds from climbers on craggy areas. Amongst the flora shown were the insectivorous Round leaved Sundew and the rare Labrador Tea Plant which can be used to make a nourishing herbal infusion. On the slopes Black Grouse may be observed, and occasionally Adders may be seen though they can be persecuted by dog owners. Several species of Raptor such as the majestic Hen Harrier or the Peregrine Falcon are to be found here although they are sadly open to illegal persecution. The lack of Golden Eagles means that a small population of Blue Mountain Hares flourished in these regal hills. Although these were once native to these islands, they became extinct many years ago and the current population was re-introduced about 150 years ago.
Dr Melling finished off by venturing down the enchanting little wooded cloughs, looking at the wildlife there particularly the bluebells which many overseas visitors come to see. He also showed us Crossbills and lamented the loss of Wood Warblers. All throughout the lecture Dr. Melling proved why he is one speaker the Naturalists would have back year after year. Afterwards our President Mr Peter Riley warmly thanked Dr. Melling for yet another magisterial lecture and the resulting ovation spoke for itself.