Tag Archives: Yorkshire

Connecting for Nature

Flower-rich roadside verge in the Vale of Pickering.

Flower-rich roadside verge in the Vale of Pickering.

The marvellous Yorkshire B-Lines project is the topic of one of the talks at ‘Connecting For Nature’ an event bringing together local people in Ryedale, Scarborough and Howardian Hills to pool their ideas for biodiversity action. The event will be held at Pickering Memorial Hall, 27th Mar 9.30-2.30, with lunch included! Places limited. The event is free but pre-booking is essential. You can book or ask for further information by emailing liz.bassindale@northyorks.gov.uk who is coordinating bookings for the event. Please sign up soon! Let us know if you have any special dietary needs.

Those attending will also be hearing from NYCC’s Local Nature Partnership Officer, Matt Millington, former Dalby Forest ecologist and local natural historian Brian Walker, North Yorkshire based nature writer Amy-Jane Beer as well as Buglife’s Paul Evans on the aforementioned Yorkshire b-Lines initiative. The speakers will be helping us address the conference theme of Connecting for Nature, thinking about the strategic, the local, the surprising and the joined up in working together to protect and enhance natural habitats.

The event is jointly hosted by Scarborough Borough Council, Ryedale District Council and the Howardian Hills AONB, following discussions about joining forces for coordinating a plan of action for local biodiversity. The workshop groups will focus on five key groupings of habitats, inviting participants to share their ideas and priorities. Delegates will be invited to indicated their preferences when registering on the day from 9.30am. The workshops will cover:

Woody places (habitats defined by trees – forests, woodlands, orchards), Wet places (including ponds, marshes, rivers and floodplains) Farmland places (especially arable and grassland), Coastal places (seashore and marine) and Community places (including urban and suburban parks, gardens, allotments, rural villages, churchyards, transport corridors etc).

If you have an interest in the natural habitats of North Yorkshire and the wildlife that depends on them perhaps you should have your say? If you cannot join us on the day, please get in touch so we include you in further communications about the new partnership. We need people with all sorts of community interests and connections as well as specialists in particular wildlife, locations and land management. Hope to see you there! Don’t forget to register your interest asap. The contact email again is liz.bassindale@northyorks.gov.uk  If you quote ‘Connecting for Nature’ in the subject that would be most helpful.

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HLF experts to visit the Vale

The Vale of Pickering from Sherburn BrowThe Partnership Board for ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’ met this week in Scarborough. A key item on agenda was the approaching visit on 1st Aug by staff from HLF to help them assess our Stage One lottery bid for the Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Thorny-Issue-Of-The-Day: how to showcase the ‘Hidden Vale’ landscape in an hour and a half tour…tricky when there are so many great vistas, diverse villages and interesting project proposals to choose from.

It was felt there are three essential messages to impart to the experts on this assessment visit. Firstly, what is this landscape unit that we have chosen to call ‘Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale’, and what are the special qualities and that are so overlooked? Not least by the visitors flocking to the coast who pass through the Vale of Pickering, unaware of its twelve thousand years of cultural heritage (think Star Carr, Lake Flixton, glacial lakes and moraines, drainage, peat and farming…).

If you were wondering by the way the proposed HLF project area is roughly speaking bounded by Brompton, Sherburn, Muston and Eastfield. You can read more in my earlier post Yorkshire’s Hidden Vale.

The second message we need to put across to these important visitors will be the threats or issues faced by The Carrs landscape, emphasising why it is urgent and timely to bring them to public attention and to find new ways of protecting the natural assets in ways which nurture the rural economy. I wrote about the threats to the peat soils for example in Vanishing Peat.

The third ‘message’ is to show examples of what funds from HLF, carefully deployed, might enable to happen and how this will secure long term benefits, not only for the landscape, but for the people and communities living here as well.

A tall order? Let’s hope that we can rise to the challenge and help the Vale of Pickering sell itself as a fitting candidate for the Landscape Partnerships Scheme.

Listening for Lapwings

As spring approaches and farmers begin tilling the fields and finish their hedge-trimming work we look and listen in anticipation of the first signs of Lapwings selecting breeding sites on The Carrs.

Lapwing in flight

Lapwing in flight      Image: Chris G Bradshaw

Also known as ‘Teeafits’ or ‘Peewits’, the distinctive calls and tumbling display flights of these iconic farmland birds are a sure sign they are interested in nesting on the field below. Ornithologists call this species Vanellus vanellus or Northern Lapwing, while country names in some parts of the UK include ‘Ullat’, ‘Tumbler’ or ‘Green Plover’ . The local Yorkshire dialect name of ‘Teeafit’ is one I have only encountered since working with farmers near Scarborough. Where I grew up in West Yorkshire ‘Peewit’ was the favoured term. What name do you call them by?

Whilst in winter months large flocks of up to several hundred are not unusual on flooded fields in farmland areas, they begin to disperse to seek breeding territories as winter gives way to spring. Grazing pasture on The Carrs or arable land with lingering patches of shallow flooding are some of the areas that attract these charismatic birds. East of Sherburn and Brompton we have approximately 150 pairs breeding on The Carrs. Survey work undertaken in spring 2011 for the Wetland Project found half of these breeding pairs choosing fields in the Higher Level Stewardship wet grassland schemes. As the schemes only cover a selection of sites along the Hertford and Derwent floodplain, there is good potential, with sensitive management, for this population to increase.