The View from the Fells – In the Footsteps of Marie Hartley

Marie’s List

Whilst studying one of Marie’s diaries (1943-47), I came across a list of birds seen around Askrigg and I was fascinated by the fact that she’d listed the corncrake, which is no longer found in the Yorkshire Dales. I compared Marie’s list with the UK’s red, amber and green lists that indicate which bird species are of ‘current conservation concern’. Marie’s list of 66 birds includes: 1 that is now completely absent from the Yorkshire Dales, 14 that are on the red list, 23 on the amber list and only 28 are classed as being ‘green status’ in that they are plentiful and breeding well within the UK. I have a list of 68 species that I’ve seen and have been able to positively identify within the Yorkshire Three Peaks region.

I can only guess at how much more abundant many of the species were in the early 1940s, a time just before agriculture was about to undergo major changes in intensification and mechanisation. I find the subject fascinating: worrying but also inspiring. On the one hand, it is of great concern that there are so many bird species now in decline but on the other hand, heartening to know that the Yorkshire Dales is home to so many of them. I’ve chosen a ‘cigarette card’ style.

Curlew and Sheepfold

Curlews are one of my favourite birds and much of the time spent researching this project seems to have been punctuated by hearing their calls or seeing them stood on a wall or circling overhead.

Lapwing and Cuckoo Flower

Lapwings are on the UK’s ‘red list’. When I heard this I was really surprised because I’m used to seeing so many of them in the Yorkshire Dales. Throughout this project I’ve seen them at all of my sites and so I’m celebrating them here with a glorious little bird that I saw coming down to Carperley Green.

In the Meadow

I saw a blackbird digging about in a meadow at Muker and, whilst not unusual, it was such a lovely thing that I couldn’t help but make a print of it.