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A rich diversity of Weardale fauna.

12th Aug 2021

Wolf, Wild Boar, and Aurochs (wild cattle) no longer roam Weardale, the hunting forests of the Bishop Princes gone, but there remains a wide and varied diversity in the fauna of the region.

Image: Roe Deer buck (c) G M Heeley

Chapter 6, FAUNA, in the Natural History of Upper Weardale is online, the printed book edition available from the Durham Wildlife Trust.

The many changes in land use and population has made its mark on Fauna present in Weardale. Conservation efforts have seen the return of Otter, Polecat and Pine Martin in recent years. The nature of conservation is discussed more in Chapter 8.

The expanse of moorland, which can seem empty of all but sheep, is deceptive. The region has an abundance of ground nesting birds, many on red and amber list of endangered British species - Grouse (Red and Black) Curlew, Lapwing, Short-eared Owls amongst others.

Image: Sand Martins are quite common along the main river and open waters (c) Hilary Chambers

Very often when we see the term 'fauna' we think only of those large creatures we can sometimes see when out and about. But of course the area is home to many species of Bat, to Lizards and Adders, Frogs, Newts and Toads.

And there are many dragonflies, bees and hoverflies, and butterflies. On the ground there are bettles and a widespread mix of molluscs.

Images: Golden-ringed dragonfly (c) Stuart Priestley; Buff-tailed Bumblebee (c) Lesley Hodgson; Red-tipped Clearwing (c) Stuart Priestley; Adult Magpie Moth emerging from pupa (c) Enid Hoseason.

This chapter is an amazing read through a massive variety and variations in species. The summary is here and the whole chapter can be downloaded also.

In an area so huge, and with much open moorland, there is so much more to explore and the writers of this chapter note that there is a lack of survey work for small mammals, and our own annual bird count is one of the few in the area that provides a detailed consistent record.

Hopefully, production of the Natual History of Upper Weardale will encourage a greater understanding of the diversity in the area, and inspire more data capture which will be essential to future management in response to climate change and conservation needs.