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22nd December 2021


This captivating image of a Cuckoo taken in the Northern Pennines 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 rare bird was spotted by keen photographer Ryan Williams from Manchester, who had to set up camp at 4am ready for the cuckoo’s most active period. Ryan said : “Usually first thing in the morning  is the best time to see the Cuckoo and I have learnt to be patient. Cuckoos are one of my favourite birds and they are only here for a few weeks each year, which makes it even more exciting to get a good picture.”

The Cuckoo is red-listed in the UK due to a declining population and arrives from Africa in late March or April each year. Cuckoos famously lay their eggs in other birds’ nests for the unsuspecting parent to rear with their own chicks. The most common ‘victims’ of this practice are Meadow Pipits, Dunnocks or Reed Warblers. Cuckoos eat insects and invertebrates, with hairy caterpillars being a particular favourite, as pictured in Ryan Williams’ image.

Kerry Woodhouse of the Northern Pennines Moorland Group said: “The North Pennine moors are home to a wide range of rare birds as well as moorland mammals,  reptiles, plants and insects. This image shows the link between providing good habitat for plants which the caterpillars eat and they in turn provide food for the Cuckoo.”

The other photos which captured the judges’ imagination include a Barn Owl photographed in the Peak District by Tammy Mellor, a Meadow Pipit pictured on Dallowgill Moor, Nidderdale, by Mollie Lord, a Short-Eared Owl photographed by Richard Bailey in the Peak District and a Sea Eagle taken by Jason Ferdinando in the North York Moors.

Amanda Anderson, director of the Moorland Association said: “The beauty of our native wildlife is captured in these delightful images. Moorlands managed sustainably for Red Grouse are the best place to see a wide variety of rare birds, as well as rare plants, insects, adders and mammals.”

The competition was organised by the Moorland Association. The winner will receive a night’s stay for two at the luxurious Swinton Park Hotel.


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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