Bransdale Moor

Bransdale Wildlife

There is a range from the top predators, such as Short Eared Owls and Merlins, through ground nesting birds including Golden Plover, Lapwings, Curlew and Skylarks to small mammals such as Wood Mice and Short Tailed Voles, Reptiles, including Adders and Lizards to a range on invertebrates including some of the rarer Fritillary Butterflies. These are all dependant on the balance of habitat mix and careful management inputs.

Red Grouse

A wild, territorial bird which spends much of its time in and around the heather areas on the moors. Grouse are dependant on heather for shelter, feeding and breeding purposes. Parents with their tightly shepherd broods of up to 12 chicks are often seen in may to August. The fluttering gliding flight of the birds and the distinctive 'Go back, Go back' call of the territorial males are in many ways the essence of the moors.


These large, long billed waders breed on the moors and the 'courlee' call gives the bird its name. Their territorial desplay flights are also very distinctive. They breed mainly on the grassy and boggy areas of the moor and feed on invertebrates taken from the ground with the long bill, which the gangly chicks do not develop until later. They also eat small berries and leave the moors after breeding to over winter in coastal areas.


This distinctive small bird of prey is literally often seen as a blue flash when a hunting male is chasing bird prey. These birds often nest in banks of dense heather and there are a number of traditional breeding areas on Bransdale. Distinctive 'plucking stations', with remains of prey, may be found on posts and large boulders. Merlins mainly feed on small birds, but also take small mammals and will even catch dragonflies in flight.

Short Eared Owl

Short-eared owls are medium sized owls with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and yellow eyes. They are commonly seen hunting during the day. In winter, there is an influx of continental birds (from Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland) to northern, eastern, and parts of central southern England, especially around the coast.
They are of European conservation concern and so are an Amber List species.

Roe Deer

The roe became extinct in England during the 18th century, but survived in woodland in parts of the Central and North West Highlands. Many populations have been reintroduced in England and there are now anestimated 500,000 roe deer in Britain. The Roe Deer is a relatively small deer, it has short, erect antlers and a reddish body with a grey face. The Roe Deer is primarily active during twilight and is very quick and graceful.


The North York Moors is the largest area of dry heather upland heath in England. The beautiful sweeps of the purple flowering dwarf shrub are vital to the well being of many animals and birds on the moor, including grouse and sheep, and are managed by careful burning of small areas to produce a range of life stages in the banks of heather. There are different species of the heather family, but Ling is the most important and widespread. 70% of all Ling areas in the world lie within the British Isles.


Bilberries are extremely difficult to grow and are thus seldom cultivated. Fruits are mostly collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, parts of England.

Short Tailed Vole

The field vole or short-tailed vole is a grey-brown vole, around 110mm in length, with only a short tail. They are one of the most common mammals in Europe, ranging from the Atlantic coast to Lake Baikal. They are found in moist grassy habitats, such as woodland, marsh, or river banks. Although they dig burrows, they usually build nests above ground. As an important food source for owls and some other predators, their population peaks and troughs in a four-year cycle.