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6th January 2021

This stunning image of a rare short-eared owl taken on moorland above Scar House reservoir in Upper Nidderdale has won a wildlife photography competition. Entries to the competition came from all over the north of England and show the variety of native wildlife thriving in upland areas.

The beautiful owl with its golden eyes and inscrutable expression was spotted by Peter Curran from Harrogate, who has a keen interest in photography, walking and bird watching in the region.

Peter Curran says: “I’ve been taking pictures of wildlife for about 15 years and every Christmas I select my favourite images from the year and make an album, along with family photos. It motivates me to try to get better shots each year than the last.

“The moor above Scar House is a great place to see birds. I saw this owl three times in about the same location and on the third attempt the late afternoon light was just right for a really good picture. There are ring ouzels resident there too and sometimes the odd hen harrier or merlin. I hope the hen harriers will nest and breed this year at Scar House as there seems to be a pair. I believe there are also four or five hen harriers living around Masham which is wonderful for this very rare species.”

Tracy Johnson of the Nidderdale Moorland Group said: “Nidderdale is home to many bird species and owls are particularly loved by the public. This year there were plenty of voles, which are a major part of the owls’ diet. The management activities carried out on sporting estates help to ensure that nest predation is kept to a minimum, benefitting a wide range of raptors and other moorland birds.”

The other photos which captured the judges’ imagination include a redshank taken on the Abbeystead Estate in the Bowland Fells; a woodcock, pictured at Westerdale in the North Yorkshire moors by James Cavana; rare grey partridges photographed in Northumberland by James Little and a red grouse photographed on Glaisdale Moor, North Yorkshire, by Mike Crocker.

Mark Cunliffe-Lister, chair of the Moorland Association said: “These pictures demonstrate the wide variety of wildlife that thrives on managed moorland. The healthy habitats created by gamekeepers help ensure a sustainable population of raptors and other birds, as well as supporting rare plants, insects, snakes and mammals.”

The competition was organised by the Moorland Association in partnership with the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Communities. The winner will receive a night’s stay for two at Swinton Park Hotel, available as soon as Covid restrictions allow.

Caption 1: Winner — Short-eared owl on the Nidderdale moors. Photograph by Peter Curran.


Did You Know?

75% of Europe’s remaining upland heather moorland is found in the UK – but this area declined alarmingly over the latter part of the last century. The Moorland Association was set up in 1986 to coordinate the efforts of moorland owners and managers to halt this loss, particularly in England and Wales.

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