The friendly and knowledgeable Snilesworth gamekeepers

Gamekeepers are renowned to have a somewhat tarnished reputation to many people and this is one of the main areas that we at NYMMO are trying to improve.  We are continually telling everyone how good the job is that we do on the moors, we meet and chat to people to show them we are just ‘normal’ people and we share lots of our information through our social media outlets.

However it is especially satisfying when we receive something that well and truly backs up what we’re saying!

Please take a read of this brilliant letter that was received by #SnilesworthEstate from Derek Copeland of Copeland Veterinary Surgeons.

Tawny Owl Chick Ringing

A massive thank you to Geoff Myers (Bird Ringer) who sent us through this article.


A telephone call earlier in the week from Mike Wilkinson, gamekeeper from Bilsdale, made me head off to Snilesworth to a site just off the edge of the moor to where he had found a Tawny Owl nest with one chick in a very old birch tree. It was actually a site I knew but which, after three blank years, I had not bothered to check this year. I had monitored the nest and ringed chicks for six consecutive years from 2008 to 2013. Thanks Mike for getting me there again and well spotted.

I met John and we went to the nest and ringed one very healthy looking chick. On the way back to the car John checked the nest boxes in the wood for me and we found a Redstart incubating six eggs. Sadly there are no longer Pied Flycatchers in this wood, due to the rapidly declining national population no doubt.

In another wood at the opposite end of the valley a Tawny Owl was not so lucky. On checking the nest box earlier in the season I found it full of sticks and other debris courtesy of Jackdaws. It was full to the top but no nest. After emptying the sticks from the box, never an easy task, in the bottom I found two Tawny Owl eggs. The owl had obviously been incubating when the Jackdaws began work and no doubt had to make a quick exit. Although instances like this are rare it is the second time it has happened in this box. I have read of instances when owls have been wedged in by Jackdaw sticks and died although that has not happened in any of my boxes.

Geoff Myers 20th May 2017


Great example of the multitude of wildlife seen on a managed grouse moor

These photos are an excellent example of the variety of birds that are seen and living on our moors that are managed for Grouse shooting.  Charlie one of the gamekeepers on Bransdale estate invited his friend and photographer Jonathan McGee to bring his camera and have a walk around the moor with him while he was checking his traps (for stoats).  The variety of birds captured in just the 1 hour while they were out is brilliant, just imagine if they’d been walking on the moor all day!

The following photos show 8 different bird species and they can be split into 3 categories.

Red Status (Highest Conservation Priority) :

Lapwing and chicks




Amber Status (Species with unfavourable Conservation status) :

Snipe                                                                                    Meadow Pipit



Greylag Geese                                                                     Oyster Catcher (great photo taken through a gap in the wall)



Green Status (species that occur regularly) :

Wheater                                                                              Golden Plover (breeding pair)




School Visit to Westerdale Moor

It was quite possibly one of the worst weather days for these school children to come out onto the Moor at Westerdale, we had rain, wind and fog but absolutely no complaints from any of the children who loved their day out of the classroom.  We have to admit however that we did utilise the row of Grouse Butts to take shelter for a little while!

Despite the weather, gamekeepers Jimmy and Ben still managed to point out 6 bird species,  Mallard, Herring Gull, Grouse, Meadow Pipit, Curlew and Golden Plover.




We also managed to spot a very well camouflaged grouse in the heather sitting on eggs.

NYMMO strongly believe that getting school children out onto the moors is really important education and this is something that we will be doing lots more in the coming months.

BASC have invited us to work alongside them and a number of other local partners in running a scheme that will enable hundreds of six to 11-year-olds to visit the moors, help with conservation tasks and learn about the region’s unique habitats and wildlife.   This great initiative was made possible after North Yorkshire Police gave £3,000 from their Police Property Fund and then BASC added a further £7,000 from their legacy funding to enable more schools to participate.



Stoats – The Chick Killers!

This photo shows a stoat which has just been shot by the gamekeeper on Hawnby estate, unfortunately it was too late for the little Lapwing chick that was in its mouth.  This is a perfect example of why predator control is essential in trying to protect all ground nesting birds.

The Fenn trap shown above are LEGAL traps that are seen on the moors and these target Stoats, Weasels, Rats and Squirrels, these traps are essential as when chicks hatch they do not fly immediately and this is when they are most at risk.  FennTraps are usually set either on wood rails that have mesh guards attached to them (this is to try and eliminate any non-target species from entering) or alternatively in tunnels that run either within, gutters, walls, track sides or any other route that looks like it could be a potential predator run.

Remember these traps are on the moors to help all ground nesting birds with their survival chances, so please DO NOT tamper with them and then hopefully we will get to see more of the chicks below.





Gamekeepers to the rescue!

We received this message through onto our facebook page and I think it’s only right that we give these 3 keepers the credit they deserve.

“I received a bad puncture on my car on the way out of Rosedale this evening. I was so lucky that two young chaps from the North Yorkshire Moors Moorland Organisation pulled over and changed my tyre for me while I stood and watched… They wouldn’t let me get mucky! Can’t thank them enough.”

Well done to Pete, Matty and Nick, no end to your talents!





Bird Ringing

This week the Gamekeepers on Hawnby Estate located a Tawny Owl nest, which had one chick, they then got in touch to get the chick ringed. The Bird ringer is Jeff Myres, he has lots of bird boxes both on Hawnby and Snilesworth estates.  Gamekeeper John went with Jeff to show him where the Tawny Owl nest was and on the way they also spotted two nests of Blue Tits and one nest of Redstarts.

The Tawny Owl is a similar size to a pigeon, it has a rounded body and head, with a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding its dark eyes, it is mainly reddish brown above and paler underneath.  It is a widespread breeding species in England, Wales and Scotland but not found in Ireland. Birds are mainly residents with established pairs probably never leaving their territories. Young birds disperse from breeding grounds in autumn.  The Tawny Owl has amber status showing that the species has an unfavourable conservation status in Europe and there are actually only up to 300 breeding pairs in the UK.

Bird Ringing aims to monitor survival rates of birds and collect information about their movements, this information then provides vital support for conservation efforts as it helps to understand how these processes influence population sizes over time.  Identifying the mechanisms is the first step in reversing declines.

The Blue Tit is a very easy recognisable bird with its mix of blue, yellow, white and green, it is a green status bird meaning that it is a species that occurs regularly in the UK.

The Redstart is identifiable by their bright orange-red tails, which they often quiver, the breeding males look smart, with slate grey upper parts, black faces and wings, and an orange rump and chest whereas the females and young are duller.  Redstarts ‘bob’ in a very robin-like manner, but spend very little time at ground level.  Like the Tawny Owl the Redstart has amber status.





Dew Ponds on Snilesworth Estate

The following photos show the resident gamekeeper topping up the Dew Ponds on the Snilesworth Estate.

A Dew Pond is an artificial pond that is usually created on the tops of hills where a natural supply of surface water is not readily available.

The creation of these Dew Ponds ensures that water is always readily available for all wildlife and livestock, this is especially important during the hot summer months.



Charity Clay Shoot

Please come and support us as we are looking to raise lots of money for Yorkshire Air Ambulance & NYMMO by holding our Charity Clay Shoot and Raffle.