Wildlife, trees and plants at Nidd Gorge
The woodland is home to more than 80 species of bird, including spotted and green woodpecker, tawny owl, goshawk, woodcock, coal tit, great tit, blue tit, goldcrest, sparrowhawk, heron, kingfisher, redpoll, siskin, grey wagtail and dipper.
Mammal species include roe deer, bat, wood mouse, bank vole, stoat, weasel, badger, squirrel and fox. The canopy of alder trees over the river attracts a wide variety of insects, which are a good food source for the fish that inhabit the river. These include trout, grayling, dace, chub, gudgeon, barbel, perch, pike, roach and carp. Butterflies recorded in the wood include the common blue, peacock, wall brown, and elephant hawk moth.
The southern bank is designated semi-natural ancient woodland. Mature sycamore makes up around half the tree stock, with the rest being a mix of oak, ash, beech, birch, rowan, elm, hazel, wild cherry and holly. Trees along the river bank are mainly alder, but Bilton Banks contains several yew trees that are more than a century old. In 1999, a donation from Taylor’s Tea funded a small area of new planting of oak, ash, birch and cherry.
As well as broadleaved woodland, the area to the north of the river includes conifer stands containing Scots and Corsican pine, hybrid larch, western red cedar and Sitka spruce. The Trust is gradually thinning the conifers to allow more light into the wood and encourage the broadleaf trees and native flora to regenerate.
Ground flora includes snowdrop, bluebell, forget-me-not, wild garlic, celandine, wood sorrel, wood anemone, foxglove, dog rose, dog’s mercury, coralroot bittercress, hairy woodrush, toothwort, common spotted orchid, common twayblade, sanicle, wood dock, common gromwell, yellow archangel, greater stitchwort and bugle. Where springs create marshy conditions, there is marsh marigold, meadowsweet, brooklime, pink purslane and moschatel.
There is also some invasive Himalayan balsam and rhododendron in the woodland, which the Trust is working to control as these species are detrimental to the native flora.
The wood also has an impressive array of fungi, with 91 species recorded. These include dryad’s saddle, leafy brain fungus, candlesnuff fungus, turkey tail and angel’s bonnet. The woodland has many mosses, hornworts and liverworts, including indicators of ancient woodland such as fox-tail feather-moss, common striated feather-moss and common tamarisk moss. Others include chalk comb-moss, top notchwort, rambling tail-moss, wall feather-moss, bordered thyme-moss, petty pocket-moss and scented liverwort.