Ramblings around and ‘moor’ grousing?

With poorer weather forecast for the coming week, we made the most of yesterday and headed for the Yorkshire Dales.  It was not bright hot sun but it was pleasant and conducive to a lovely walk along the banks of the River Ure and up to Redmires Force.

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Redmire Force, a lesser known ‘cousin’ of the popular Aysgarth Falls, tranquil and a natural haven abundant with wildlife.

The meadows and tree lined banks are the kind that remind you of what is special about Yorkshire, habitats rich in wildlife.  Milkwort was abundant, quantities such as I’d not seen in a good few years.  A veritable grassland carpet with Heath Speedwell and Wild Thyme, Salad Burnet and Pignut all plentiful along the riverbanks.

Oystercatchers too were very vocal along the river bank and a pair tried their best to distract us as we walked across one of the riverside meadows.  A Common Sandpiper with a beak-full of food an indication of breeding success.  The ornithological epitome of Dales haymeadows, the Curlew was vocal with much bubbling heard.  Dancing mayflies too were evident but not in vast swarms recently emerged.

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A pair of Oystercatchers: with perhaps as many as four pairs along the stretch of the River Ure around the village of West Witton, clearing a rich feeding area along the river bank and the meadows leading down to it.

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The Yorkshire Dales landscape has feature boundaries such as this above, this one forms part of a green lane leading back to West Witton and had Herb Bennet, Dog’s Mercury, Wild Arum along its route, and as it led up into the village between some cottages a good sized Hart’s-tongue Fern.  Phyllitis scolopendrium is so named because the fern frond was said to resemble a deer tongue (hart being an old name for a deer).  The ash tree, clearly distressed but still hanging on to life was supporting a host of other species capable of ultilising the dead wood.  Full of emergence holes and woodpecker enlarged holes created as they searched for grubs.  If you check out the dead trunk just above the left hand branch of flowering hawthorn then you might just spot the fruiting body of Daldinia concentrica, a fungi also known as King Alfred’s Cakes.

The gentle walk delivered up quintessential scenes of what we like to think of as the English countryside; rolling green flower filled meadows and tree lined river banks. This is the kind of farming practice which I have no trouble being supported through taxes. Returning from North Yorkshire back to South Yorkshire and what a contrast, the ever expanding ‘ring of steel’ around Thorne Moors SSSI / Natura 2000 site strung across the home horizon.  Acres of industrial units (not one sporting any solar panels) and industrialised agriculture, massive fields devoid of hedgerows and trees.  Some serious savings could be made here in terms of CAP payments and recycled where environmental benefits are being delivered?

A recent post informed readers of a petition which seeks to Ban driven grouse shooting, since that mention the network has spread the word and the signatories have almost doubled in just a few days, so is there hope such as that expressed by its creator Dr Mark Avery?  Avery’s next post (same day) updates his readers on an event which might also be of interest to readers of this blog?  Hen Harrier Day, along with an invitation to join him in the Peak District.  Readers of both will be aware of the background and rationale to this event.  Let’s hope this and the other actions (across the country) do indeed raise the profile of issues around illegal raptor killings.

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