Thorne Moor in Yorkshire is being restored as a heathland
habitat. This peatland has everything that a Dragonfly needs. In fact it's one
of the best places in the North to see these creatures.
raised bog. Photo - Natural England/Peter
Moor forms part of the Humberhead Peatlands National Nature Reserve which is the
largest area of raised bog wilderness in lowland Britain.
area is a great place to see rare plants, insects, birds and animals.
moor was formed from the remnants of wetland that occupied the floodplain of the
Humberhead Levels thousands of years ago.
At one time the area was covered
by woodland but this was cleared by prehistoric man.
William Bunting (1916-1995)
, an amateur naturalist, worked tirelessly to save what remains of Thorpe Moors.
campaigned vigorously against peat extraction and fronted a group called Bunting's
The 'Beavers' blocked drains
which threatened to lower the area's water table to a dangerously low level.
together with climate change, led to the gradual formation of the deep layer of
peat which now covers the area.
Peat extraction was of major significance
in medieval times involving the labour intensive practice of digging peat by hand.
the 1960s production of peat for horticultural purposes was mechanised, and this
continued until 2004.
The moor was acquired by English Nature as a Site
of Special Scientific Interest - it started 'rewetting' work, designed to restore
the wetland to its original condition.
As part of the restoration work peat-forming
bog species, including Sphagnum mosses and Cottongrasses, have been actively encouraged.
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Moor's restoration has stimulated the local Dragonfly population and there are
now 20 different species of Dragon and Damselfly to be found.
of peatland has everything that a Dragonfly needs - there's plenty of still water
where it can lay its eggs and there's loads of other insects to eat.
the many Dragonflies is the Southern Hawker - one of our largest Dragonflies.
As its name suggests they're mainly found in the South of England, but
now they're slowly spreading North.
Also look out for some unusual butterflies
including the Large Heath Butterfly.
moors are also a northern stronghold for the Adder, but seeing them requires stealth
because they are secretive creatures.
It's hard to obtain accurate records
- but surveys show that there are several hundred Adders on the moors, making
Thorne Moor something of an Adder hot spot.
The best time to see the Adders
is during the spring and summer because they hibernate from early October.
often to be seen basking on pathways on warm days before slithering off into the
Look out for their striking zig-zag markings.
moors are an internationally important breeding site for one our weirdest birds
- the Nightjar.
In fact it's so strange that its scientific name means "goatsucker".
bird's half-bird half- log shape makes it hard to spot because it's perfectly
camouflaged to conceal itself.
You're more likely to hear these birds before
you see them - and their sound is unusual to say the least.
churring call led to the bird being nicknamed "gabble ratchet" in Yorkshire.
Moor is also a stronghold for the Nightingale which migrates to the area in April
from Africa - listen out for its melodic song in spring and early summer.
Moor images courtesy and copyright of Natural England, Peter Raworth and Peter
Large Heath Butterfly copyright
of Natural England and Peter Roworth.