Upper Wharfedale what to see in spring

View down Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales

As snow thaws and the winter withdraws, spring arrives in Upper Wharfedale; we always have to wait a little longer than other parts because of the upland altitude. But once we have some warmth from the sun, colour, buzzing and song return swiftly.

Flowers are the first sign with wood anemones, primroses, lesser celandines and the smell from the wild garlic; later in the spring cowslips, mountain pansies and early purple orchids start to appear. These flowers then start to support the dormant insect population. Bees that have spent the winter hibernating in holes in trees and the gaps in drystone walls emerge looking for some sweet early nectar.

Cowslips
Cowslips at Lyveden

There is a strong bird population in Upper Wharfedale - you will begin to hear and see oyster catchers, lapwing and curlew in March with the wintering blackhead gulls beginning to show their distinctive black head breeding summer plumage. From April onwards, you will begin to notice the golden plover and skylarks on the fell tops on Buckden Pike.

Curlews are one of the iconic species that come to the moors to breed in spring
A curlew, which are found on Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

In the woodlands of Redmire opposite Buckden the full array of birds will begin to be around, including nuthatch, tree creepers, warblers and redstart; some of these are resident all year round but species like the redstart migrate from northwest Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Along the riverside you will see the dippers bobbing and the pied and grey wagtails fluttering their tails.

Nuthatch by its nest hole
Nuthatch

And of course in the fields you will see lambs. The farmers, ever busy throughout the year, have brought their ewes down off rougher hillside pasture to their lower valley lambing fields. These areas are sheltered and with the farmer's close eye on them the fields fill up quickly with these little woolly bundles of joy.

New born lambs are a delightful sight
Border collie sheepdog 'holding' a ewe and lamb