Tranquil woodland in the heart of Skipton

© Skipton Town Council 2016

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A Year in the Life of the Wilderness



Rod visited the Wilderness, often in the early morning, usually weekly and  mainly on a Friday. These are his observations.


3 January 2014

Another new year starts in the Wilderness. Lots of usual thrushes, blackbirds, wrens, robins in the scrub. Magpies chattering and small flocks of tits moving in and out of the trees.


10 January Still very wet but buds are pushing through the earth. Lots of bird activity. Rooks flying across with twigs, rebuilding nests.


17 January

Cold. Strange weather. House sparrows chirping on the building at the bottom of the Wilderness. They breed any time now so busy with nest material.


24 January

Very mild week. Birds singing, buds coming through. Feels like Spring not Winter. Seen a hedgehog  this week that proves the weather fools Nature’s wildlife.


31 January

More buds bursting through. Mistle  thrush singing top of trees. Very early nesting bird. We just need the rain to ease now.


7 February

Heavy rain again. Beck in full spate. Heron trying to catch food. Some herons will be on eggs, one of the earliest to lay.


14 February

Starling busy singing a varied and sometimes bubbling song. Also a good mimic. There is a bird near my house mimics a curlew quite often.


21 February

Another wet week. Oyster catchers flying over, heading for breeding grounds. Blue tits busy in and out of boxes.


28 February

Dry start to the week. Lots of bird song. Mistle and song thrushes, blackbirds, robins, dunnocks and wrens. Lots of curlew flying over calling on the way back to nesting grounds.


6 March

Good dry week. Several peacock butterflies out in the sunshine, also a few tortoiseshells emerging from hibernation. Grey wagtails back on the beck looking for nest sites.


14 March

Good start to the week, nice and warm. Lots of birds singing. Quite a lot of ladybirds on the tree trunks and bumble bees flying.


21 March

Snowdrops almost gone now but beautiful yellow daffodils in bloom. Blossom and buds showing on trees and bushes, but a cold snap forecast. So hard again for the flora and fauna


28 March

Spring is really here. Now birds calling throughout the Wilderness. The first warblers are back, chiff chaff, call repetitive but still iconic of spring woodland..


4 April

Seems like Autumn today, sudden drop in temperature. Low mist and fog. Mistling, as we say in Yorkshire. Sure enough there is a mistle thrush calling from the tree tops!


11 April

Daffodils are fading, blue bells coming into bloom.

Comma, peacock, tortoiseshell, orange tip butterflies, all hatching. Lots of bumble bees.


17 April

Warmer this week. New flowers appearing, lots more colour.

Peacock and tortoiseshell butterflies.

Stag and hind roe deer browsing on the new buds and shoots.


24 April

Wet, wet, wet. But swallows are over the wood. Bluetits busy at the boxes. Jackdaws building. The rain doesn’t stop Nature.


2 May

3 or 4 good days this week. Warblers are still in full song. Chiff chaff, willow warbler and black caps. Fantastic dawn chorus.


9 May

Swifts arrived back this week. That’s the sound of summer.


16 May

Taking a party to Kent for a week’s bird watching.


30 May

Mixed weather this week. Warblers still calling. Lot of fledged young birds about. Predators watching, magpies and crows.


5 June

Stunning summer’s day. Butterflies everywhere: speckled woods, small whites tortoiseshell, peacocks, comma, holly blue.  Fantastic range of colours on show.


13 June

Very early walk

Blackbirds, singing, the odd robin and dunnock too. Then a song thrush starts up. Followed by willow warbler, black cap and  various tit calls, a great dawn chorus.


20 June

Scorcher of a week. Everything is green and lush. Birds singing, feeding young. Summer in its full glory.


27 June

Early walk. Blackbird alarm call. Tawny owl sitting in the tree trying hard not to be disturbed. More birds join in until the owl flies off.


July – holidays


25 July

A few warblers still singing. Blackbirds on second broods. A change in the air. Cooler. Some birds will start to leave soon.


1 August

Very wet morning but early start. Hedgehog crossing the path

The cool wet night brings out the slugs so plenty to eat


8 August

Mixed week of wet and warm weather. One or two young robins in the undergrowth speckled and skulking away so no predators can see them


15 August

Very wet week. Beck in full spate. Heron trying to fish and a teal, for the first time for me. Looking for food in the flow between stones.


21 August

Lots of curlews flying over calling, moving to the coast now. Soon the pink footed geese will be flying over to their wintering grounds on the west coast.


29 August

Cooler week. Mixed dry and wet. Heron in the beck bottom. Nuthatch and tree creeper foraging on the trunks of trees.


5/19 September holiday


26 August

What a dry month. A superb summer. Swallows and house martins all gone now. Robins back on territory, singing, Birds feeding on berries.


3 October

Autumn just about here. Cooler today but butterflies still flying. Lots of starlings in the trees. Good colony of house sparrows on the building near the bottom gate.


10 October

Still mild. Leaves staying on the trees and the Autumn colours are showing. Watching a hedgehog, early just before light, going under a large stick pile.


17 October

Lots more colour to the leaves. Slight frost overnight. Roe deer, hind and fawn from this year, browsing.


24 October

I’ve seen my first green woodpecker in the Wilderness this morning and two minutes later, a pair. Fantastic birds.


30 October

Late  walk, tawny owls calling and bats flying, pipistrelle mostly.


14 November

Peacock butterflies still about and lots of pink footed geese flying over towards the west coast.


21 November

Very wet and cold today but first redwings in the wood brought down by the wind and rain.


28 November

Dry quiet week. Large flock of finches in the wood this morning, goldfinch and green finch and three siskins. May be we will see a brambling soon.


5 December

Very cold and frosty morning. Heron looking for food. A few blackbirds and thrushes moving around. Great views of a tree creeper, fantastic little bird.


12 December

Another cold wet week. House sparrows and starlings near the entrance. Flushed two pheasants, first time I have seen them in the wilderness. The weather can bring anything down into the undergrowth.


19 December

Very wet week. A few birds in the underbrush. Heavy rain coming down. Walking back, saw a nice nuthatch looking for grubs on the bark of a tree.


26 December

Boxing Day. There is still wildlife around , winter is yet to arrive and times will get harder. Some of the birds won’t survive but Nature always amazes. Looking forward to the next year.