The sheeps job on the moors

Thank you to Faye for sending this lovely sheep enjoying the photo below through, it’s definitely striking a pose!

Sheep are a common sight on the North York Moors and unbeknown to lots of visitors to the area the sheep will help keep them safe from the risk of ticks when out walking.

Most tick bites happen in late spring, early summer and autumn this is because these are the times of year when most people take part in outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping.  Ticks can be found in any areas where there is deep or overgrown vegetation and where there is access to animals for them to feed on.  Ticks don’t fly or jump but they climb onto your skin or clothes if you brush against something that they’re on, they then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.  There are many ways of reducing the risk of getting bitten, the main ones are to keep to designated footpaths, keep any dogs on a lead and wear lighter coloured clothing as the ticks will then be more visible.

Moorland estates try to reduce the risk of ticks by having a good flock of sheep on the moors as the sheep act as “tick mops”.  The sheep are dipped in a pesticide that attracts ticks and kills them off in huge numbers, and this has been welcomed as an effective and harmless method in the fight against ticks.

For more details on ticks and Lyme Disease please visit the Lyme Disease Action Organisation at the link below, they have a massively informative website with all areas covered.

The 2nd photo shows the before feeding and also the engorged tick after feeding.

It’s not just at Kew Gardens!

These photos were taken at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and show a fantastic display of sphagnum mosses and sundew, which is an insect digesting plant.  The displays on show at the gardens illustrate the great importance of these plants to the environment.

Kew Gardens is a botanical garden in southwest London that houses the “largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world”.  Founded in 1840, from the exotic garden at Kew Park in Middlesex, England, its living collections include more than 30,000 different kinds of plants, while the herbarium, which is one of the largest in the world, has over seven million preserved plant specimens.
HOWEVER, If you don’t fancy a trip to London don’t worry, just take a trip to the North York Moors as these important peat forming plants can be found throughout the area and not just on the Blanket Bog but also the areas classed as dry heath.

A long term project that is being carried out on a National Nature Reserve (NNR), Moor House, is finding that controlled muir burning on a shorter rotation increases the presence of these important plant species.
These plants are protected by law, so look out for them but please don’t remove them.

Heather moorland is rare on a worldwide scale and there is less heather moorland in the world than there is tropical rainforest.  Around 70% of the world’s heather moorland is here in the UK and luckily for us the largest continuous expanse of moorland in England and Wales is here in the North York Moors.

Toad Time!

We’ve had the frog  photos now it’s the turn of the toads!

These photos were taken on an estate in the North York Moors where they have created a Moorland duck pond.

Common Toads vary in colour from Dark Brown, Grey, Olive Green to Sandy and have broad bodies and warty skin.  Toads tend to walk rather than hop and are widespread and common in mainland Britain.  The Common Toads generally live away from water except when mating and they hibernate during winter in deep leaf litter, log piles and in burrows.

Tadpoles hatch after about 10 days and gradually change completely or metamorphose into tadpoles over 2 to 3 months.  Common Toads can live for up to 10-12 years.


Basking in the Spring Sun

We received this photo of an adder enjoying the sunshine yesterday, on the moor side of the lake at Lockwood Beck.

Adders hibernate from October, emerging in the first warm days of March, which is the easiest time of year to find them basking on a log or under a warm rock.

The adder is the UK’s only venomous snake, but its poison is generally of little danger to humans.  An adder bite can be very painful and cause a nasty inflammation, but is really only dangerous to the very young, ill or old, if you do happen to get bitten, medical attention should be sought immediately.  Adders are secretive animals and prefer to slither off into the undergrowth than confront and bite humans and domestic animals with the majority of attacks happening if they are trodden on or picked up.

Essential use of traps for predator control

The various traps in the photos have been set on wood rails, these traps are crucial to gamekeepers in their battle to help protect Ground Nesting Birds.  Unfortunately if you look closely at the pictures you can see that these traps have been set off by members of the public with pieces of stick.  Regardless of whether this was done as a silly prank or done with malicious intent the only real damage being done by springing the trap is the increased risk to the ground nesting birds from predators.

The Fenn Traps will cease to be legal for stoats from April 2020 but will still be useable for weasels, rats and squirrels.  Two new traps have now been approved as run-through tunnel traps rather than just a baited dead end set, these are the DOC and the Tully trap.  Both of these traps meet the higher welfare standards of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) of which the UK is a signatory.  One thing to be aware of is that the approval of the DOC series is dependent on the user following the manufacturer’s instructions, which require baffles either side of a run-through DOC and contain very specific requirements for their positioning.  The instructions were amended slightly in January and the up to date version can be found at

Further potential replacement traps are in the pipeline and if they pass the stringent testing process in place they could be available before next April.

Regardless of the trap being used the one thing to note is that these are set by trained professionals and it is against the law to tamper with these set traps.

The Columba Project benefits from NYMMO Dog Training Days

NYMMO are really proud to be able to hand over £1,000.00 to Maureen Westerman who has been the project co-ordinator for the Columba Project in Middesbrough since it’s inception in 2003.  Since opening its doors 16 years ago the charity has provided a place for vulnerable young adults to attend twice weekly where they are provided with a listening ear and offers of snacks and drinks.

Thanks to John Cavana and Connolly’s Red Mills for running the 3 HPR (hunt, point, retrieve) gun dog training days which raised the funds to allow NYMMO to donate this fantastic amount of money, which will pay for the charity’s rent for the whole of 2019.

John and his team of volunteers for the Gift of Game initiative visited the #ColumbaProject in December where they were one of several charities which benefited from the 500 game meals that have been cooked and provided to homeless shelters in the past 6 weeks.

The game season may have ended but the cooking certainly hasn’t and next on the menu we have venison as we look to continue serving the homeless community with hot meals throughout 2019.

Thank you to Michael Rogers for the use of his dog action shots of the day.


Frog Spawn Spotting

January and February is a key time for frogs and toads as this is the period in which they start spawning.

For anyone who doesn’t know the difference between Frog and Toad spawn the thing you need to look out for is that Frog spawn is always laid in clumps whereas Toad spawn looks like long strings of pearls which are draped over pond weed and submerged plants.

These photos were sent in over the weekend and things are certainly moving on quickly, there is definitely an abundance of frogs around this year.

Gun Dog Handler Training on the North York Moors

A massive thank you to John Cavana and Connolly’s Red Mills for putting on 3 days of HPR (Hunt, Point, Retrieve) Gun Dog Handler Training on the North York Moors.

I attended the event on Thursday, unfortunately for me I’d picked the only foggy day in an unusually tropical February but still got to meet some really lovely dogs of varying different breeds.

The dogs on show included Old Danish Pointers, German Short Haired Pointers, Hungarian Vizslas and a Bracco Italiano.

The 3 days raised £1500 but not only that the participants boosted our local North Yorkshire economy by stopping in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and filling their cars up with fuel in our local garages.

The North York Moors are enjoyed by a huge amount of people for varying different reasons but each just as important and these 3 days highlight another great use of the moors which brings much needed income to the area.

Thank you to Michael Rogers (Dog Photos UK) for the use of some of his photos.


Controlled Cool Burns v Wildfires


The following are informative words of Ian Coghill, these need to be heard, appreciated and essentially understood.

“Yesterday I attended a GWCT meeting in Parliament to discuss Wildfire. Amongst much interesting information we were told that last year’s fire a Saddleworth caused the loss of the equivalent of 7cm peat across the whole site and released 30 tonnes of Lead into the river system which had been trapped in the peat since the industrial Revolution. If the moor eventually begins to function as a carbon sink again it will accumulate peat at a centimetre every 20-30 years. That all means that with luck the peat will be back where it was last spring in about 140- 210 years time. Unfortunately as none of the precautionary measures requested by the FRS will be allowed and as rotational burning will be largely forbidden by NE, as it has been in the past, the moor can confidently be predicted to burn to a crisp again in 15-20 years time.
Thank goodness that the Countryfile ‘journalist’ given the chance to look at the issue of Wildfire chose to spend his time promoting irrelevant and probably ill-founded allegations from FoE which have nothing to do with Wildfire.”