Baildon Moor is one of the places I have been up onto many times. It is a fantastic place to have on our doorstep and is one of the most heavily used areas of upland moorland in the country but inspite of that it is also home to several rare plants and the breeding ground of several threatened species of birds. Though it might be legal to wander anywhere on the moors it is strongly recommended to stick to the recognised paths and also keep dogs on the paths during the nesting season. Just because it is legal to roam doesn’t mean you should.
I know that Curlew nest in the grass of the moor but until last year I had never seen a chick. The photo below shows the chick running back into cover for the 3rd time as it tries to get back across the road. It had been scattered out of some long grass that was way off the path by a pointer style dog that was running freely. The chick managed to cross the road on the 4th attempt and soon after that it was in the same area as one of its parents.
It amazes me that Skylark, another threatened species, manages to breed on Baildon Moor. They make their nests in small clumps of grass that can be found along the edges of the fairways. Many dogs have been bred to sniff out such areas and early in the nesting season they can be seen running along and sticking their noses into almost every clump of grass they come to. Given that these smaller clumps soon give way to Heather, Bracken or thicker grass that the Skylark don’t usually build their nests in this will prevent the birds from building their nests in the first place.
Snipe, Redshank, Stonechat, Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Willow Warbler, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Tree Sparrow have all bred on Baildon Moor or the neighbouring fields. Some have been very consistent but others have only bred intermittently. Several of the photos in the gallery are of chicks, or of adults with food for chicks.
Even when sticking to the paths you can still see Lapwing chicks, Skylark feeding their young, Meadow Pipit with beaks full of flies. Several Lapwing will take to the air and circle around making their loud call.
They can also be seen mobbing other birds if they fly over their nesting grounds – Red Kite, Crows, Kestrel, various gulls etc. all get mobbed.
There are several sounds on the Moor that I love. Curlew calling as they come into land. Lapwing calling and wheeling in the air as they do their mating display. Redshank and Oystercatcher also have characteristic calls. One bird that has a very strange “call”, apart from its “chip-er” is the Snipe. It flies over its breeding ground and then dives with two of its tail feathers stuck out and these thrum quite loudly.
But the bird song of Spring and hot Summer is the skylark. It is incredible to see Kestrel hovering over their hunting grounds, but equally incredible is to hear a Skylark singing away over its breeding ground, and to spend a minute searching for it high in the sky. You know it is up there but it can take a long time to find and sometimes it is nothing but a tiny dot.
Below is a small selection of photos taken on Baildon Moor. (I will remove the word “small” when I have got up to about 150 photos.) Clicking on an image loads the image and you are able to navigate to the next in the gallery.