Discovering Buckden and beyond

Wildlife and countryside of the Dales

From riverside to fell-top, there is a whole range of different environments for wildlife at Buckden, with particular interest for those coming to see birds and wild flowers.


Along the River Wharfe you are likely to spot dippers bobbing on rocks in the water and you could be lucky enough to witness a flash of bright turquoise along the water’s surface, indicating the greatest fisherman of them all, the kingfisher. Look too for brown trout in the still pools. There are also goosanders, grey herons, sandpipers, swallows and oystercatchers along the river.

On the wetter moors above there are curlews, lapwings and snipe. The Dales area is an internationally important stronghold for upland waders and the uplifting warble of the curlew is particularly characteristic of the area and signals the end of winter each year.

The ash woods along the valley sides are home to a rich variety of bird species, including woodcocks, green woodpeckers, goldcrests, tree creepers and nuthatches. Little and tawny owls scour the open ground and roe deer often venture out into the meadows from Redmire Wood.

...Peregrine falcons...

Peregrine falcon

Some of the most spectacular birds can be spotted high in the air, keeping a sharp eye out for prey or dead carrion or simply sailing on air currents. Buzzards can often be seen gliding or flapping their large wings in a rather wooden way and peregrine falcons are sometimes seen around Cray. The peregrine is the fastest bird you are ever likely to see and can dive at up to 100mph if it sees dinner below. Red kites have also been spotted since their reintroduction further down Wharfedale, following persecution that lasted decades and led to these magnificent birds being confined to a few valleys in mid-Wales.

Even here in the garden at West Winds you can see a fantastic range of birds. Recent visitors include great spotted woodpeckers, spotted fly catchers, wrens, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, nuthatches, tree creepers, chaffinches, goldfinches, greenfinches, bullfinches, siskins, robins, song thrushes, blackbirds, jackdaws, swallows, tawny owls and even a sparrowhawk.

...Wild flowers...

Rock rose

The keen naturalist should also be able to find many wild flowers that are rare or declining elsewhere in the country. The delicate pink birdseye primrose grows in limestone flushes here and orchids include the early purple, butterfly, fragrant and common spotted. Other uncommon flowers include grass of Parnasus (white) and the autumn gentian (purple).

But the most showy of flower displays are also the most common. The hillsides and woods are frequently smothered with primroses in spring and in June and July the buttercup meadows are a blaze of colour, sometimes with additional splashes of pink from bistort, purple from wood cranesbill or red from clover.

...Look after nature...

If you are coming to Buckden to discover its nature, please help to look after it. Many wild flowers and birds are in decline – even in the Dales – and need careful protection. Picking wild flowers prevents them setting seed and propagating for future years and for rare flowers is against the law. Digging up any wild plant in the countryside is also illegal. Apart from a few very common species, harming a wild bird or taking its eggs or destroying its nest is against the law.

If you care about the countryside of the Dales and elsewhere in Yorkshire you could help by joining the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

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