Wildlife

Wide and varied habitats and creatures

The hills turn pink in August when the heather is in bloom © National Trust / Peak District

The hills turn pink in August when the heather is in bloom

There are many different types of intriguing and beautiful creatures that inhabit the moorlands and woodlands of the Peak District. The Dark Peak area itself has some specialities not found in other parts of the National Park. The Peak District is the most southerly point at which the mountain hare has been spotted in the UK.

Red grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

A distinctive call that can be heard on the heather moorlands all year © northeastwildife.co.uk

A distinctive call that can be heard on the heather moorlands all year

'Go-back, go-back' is the distinctive call of this reddish-brown game bird, which can be heard on the heather moorlands all year round. It inhabits the moorlands because of the lack of trees on the landscape and the wealth of heather shoots, seeds and flowers that it feeds on.

Mountain hare (Lepus timidus)

This is one of the few places in England where you may see a mountain hare © National Trust / Peak District

This is one of the few places in England where you may see a mountain hare

The mountain hare is shorter than the brown hare, with shorter ears and legs, and inhabits the moorlands to graze on the many plants. It uses depressions in the ground for shelter under heather and rock outcrops. To prepare for winter, it sheds the black/grey summer coat, replacing it with a distinctive partially white coat but keeping the black-tipped ears.

Cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)

Swathes of cotton grass sweep the Dark Peak moors © NT

Swathes of cotton grass sweep the Dark Peak moors

The common cotton grass is very deceptive. It looks like a grass but is actually part of the sedge family. It has long slender grass-like leaves but is mostly recognisable by its seed heads of fluffy masses of cotton, which are designed to be dispersed by the wind. This plant is of great importance in preventing peat erosion.
 

Weasel (Mustela nivalis)

The Weasel is a majestic creature known for its ingenuity and cunning © northeastwildlife.co.uk

The Weasel is a majestic creature known for its ingenuity and cunning

Known for their ingenuity and cunning, weasels use pre-defined hunting routes to track down their prey. As the prey scurries away to its burrow, the weasel's slender long body is well adapted to follow into the smallest of spaces. It sets up a den in a burrow, rock crevice or drystone wall. You can see the weasel active both day and night.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

A moorland habitat native © northeastwildlife.co.uk

A moorland habitat native

A short, shrubby, perennial bush, the bilberry's head blossoms into pink bell-shaped flowers in spring. It has stems that can stand approximately 50cm high and are covered in bright-green, oval-shaped leaves. In autumn, the pink flower of the bilberry ripens into a bluish-black fruit producing single or paired berries instead of clusters.

Meadow pipit (Anthus Trivialis)

Listen for its distinctive short and repetitive song © northeastwildife.co.uk

Listen for its distinctive short and repetitive song

Often mistaken for a song thrush, the pipit can be identified by its olive-brown upper parts with dark streaks and dull pink legs. It can be seen all year round in the Peak District, mostly on the ground rummaging for insects or in their nests of dry grass. Listen for its distinctive short and repetitive song.

Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)

Look on top of rocks and posts for the perched owl scanning the moors © northeastwildife.co.uk

Look on top of rocks and posts for the perched owl scanning the moors

Sharp yellow eyes survey the open and rugged countryside of the moors. Swooping a few feet from the ground, the short-eared owl plunges feet first into the vegetation as its prey scurries away to safety. This hunter can be seen by visitors to the moors both day and night, but will be seen more frequently during the winter months.
 

Water vole (Cricetidae Arvicola terrestr...

Water Voles are easily mistaken for a gluttonous rat © northeastwildlife.co.uk

Water Voles are easily mistaken for a gluttonous rat

As a small, brown-bodied, long-tailed and fat-faced creature, the water vole is usually mistaken for a gluttonous rat. They dig out their burrows in the banks of a stream or canal, then line their nests with grass before heading off along the upland waterways in search of grasses, bark and roots to feast upon.

Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)

Look for reddish stems and dark green needle-like leaves on the moorlands © northeastwildlife.co.uk

Look for reddish stems and dark green needle-like leaves on the moorlands

An evergreen shrub that grows in carpets and low hummocks on acidic peatlands. Its distinctive pale purple flower appears in May, followed by a bounty of dark-purple-to-black juicy berries which contain large seeds. To spot the crowberry, look out for the reddish stems and dark green needle-like leaves that cover the grounds of the moorlands.

Alport bird hide

A large, powerful and stunning creature that is swift and agile in flight

A large, powerful and stunning creature that is swift and agile in flight

Since 2002 we have put a bird hide on the top of the Alport Valley, which returns every March before nesting season and is taken off the moor for winter. Birds spotted from the hide include peregrine falcons, kestrels and other raptors. The hide overlooks Alport Castles and is situated a couple of metres from the public footpath on the way round to the Upper Derwent Valley. The current hide is a converted Anderson shelter as this has proved more durable than previous incarnations of the hide.

Pipistrelle bat

This tiny creature was found on the cobbles outside our offices in Edale.  For information, care advice and more about bats please contact the Bat Conservation Trust.

Cotton grass planting

Planting of cotton grass plug-plants to stabilise peat and encourage natural revegetation processes in conjunction with heather brashing and lime, seed and fertiliser application projects.

50 things: Wildlife

Get your hands dirty and explore the Peak District

Get your hands dirty and explore the Peak District

Lots of the fun 50 things to do take you exploring the world of the wildlife kingdom. Have a look at the great activities below and go venture into the Peak District to try them out.

17. Set up a snail race
34. Track wild animals
35. Discover what's in a pond (check out our Down by the pond event at Longshaw)
36. Make a home for a wild animal
40. Go on a nature walk at night

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