Nidderdale AONB is home to important populations of a variety of birds including merlin, golden plover and redshank along with regionally important concentrations of other species such as curlew and lapwing that breed in the meadows and pastures.
Moorlands can provide valuable habitats for both amphibians and reptiles. Moorland and newly planted woodland are valuable habitats for adders. Common in moorland, open woodland and grassland are the common lizard and the slow worm.
Large expanses of water are important for birds, and wetland areas and ponds provide a provide a perfect environment for dragonflies and damselflies. Otters and water voles are regularly recorded alongside rivers and streams and river lampreys are widespread.
The Government has pledged to improve Britain’s most threatened wildlife through the Biodiversity 2020 initiative. The species selected are referred to as Section 41 (NERC Act) species.
While the majority occur elsewhere in Britain, some of the birds in particular are Nidderdale born and bred. These include curlew, lapwing, hen harrier, herring gull, red grouse, black grouse, grey partridge, nightjar, cuckoo, lesser-spotted woodpecker, tree pipit, skylark, yellow wagtail, spotted flycatcher, grasshopper warbler, wood warbler, song thrush, ring ouzel, willow tit, marsh tit, starling, linnet, twite, bullfinch, hawfinch, house sparrow, tree sparrow, yellowhammer and reed bunting.
Of these, lesser-spotted woodpecker, yellow wagtail wood warbler, twite and hawfinch have probably been lost from the AONB in recent years. Black grouse became extinct historically but an on-going initiative is working to repatriate it.
Casual records of these and other bird species are most welcome and can be sent to the Nidderdale Birdwatchers or entered on-line at the local biological record centre which is http://www.neyedc.org.uk/.