Bird Life Of Craven – The Ultimate Guide!


By Brian Stott

When you look out of your window at home or at work or look around you as you walk or drive around our beautiful district you will always be able to spot birdlife, but how many of you realise how many different birds make up the ornithology of the area?

I have been looking back through photographs I have taken in the past eighteen months and all of the pictures here have been taken within our local area showing what a wide variety there is. I’m sure I haven’t got everyone so if you have some photos of your own send them into Declan at The Skipton Press. I’m sure he would welcome them. (You can send them to

Let’s start off with a Heron. This one was taken flying at Bolton Abbey but I have seen them in the stream which runs right beside Fisher Medical Centre in town.


Here is another shot of a Heron, again at Bolton Abbey. Heron has an almost prehistoric dinosaur look.


This is the one outside Fisher Medical Centre .


Here is a much smaller bird everyone will have seen. A sparrow in my back garden


Back to a bigger species now. Here is a young swan taken on the canal in the centre of town. It is a Cygnet about 10 months old in March this year.


And a whole group down by Bus Station


Here are some Geese I saw flying overhead in their classic V formation, they are always honking as they fly along so you can get your camera ready when you hear them.


Here is one on the canal by Rendezvous Hotel


A male Blackbird outside Herriots Hotel, the females are not really black and have a brown speckled breast.


Everyone knows Robin Redbreast

This one came right up to me as we were at Bolton Abbey but there are often ones in our garden



This one was also at Bolton Abbey it is a Pied Flycatcher. It was a long way off up a tree but a keen ornithologist pointed it out to me. They are quite rare and come here each summer from West Africa. As well as insects they eat caterpillars.


Another beautiful and very small bird is a Kingfisher. I have seen one in Skipton Woods behind the Castle and also one in Wilderness Woods just behind The Cross Keys Pub. I haven’t got photos of these but I did manage to get this picture near Barnoldswick on the canal towpath so it is in Craven area.


It dived in and caught a fish whilst we watched. You can see it in its beak.


This is a picture of a Crow taken from my garden last November at dusk. I took it with a flash and although it was probably 40 metres away the bird’s eye reflected the bright light.


This is a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I took it a Cliffe Castle in Keighley but I have seen (and heard) them in Skipton Woods and Aireville Park but not managed to photograph them there.


Another inquisitive bird that will come up close like a Robin for feeding off crumbs is a Chaffinch



Here is a Starling on my back garden fence. A lot of people don’t like them but they are quite a beautiful bird really. They can be quite aggressive with each other. They like to nest in dark holes, I discovered this earlier this year when a pair got stuck down the drain pipe of our conservatory (we rescued them be sawing the bottom end off and carefully pulling them out, they both were able to fly away. The very next day one came down our chimney and was in our sitting room. It had managed to squeeze through a very small vent on the gas fire but of course couldn’t go back. It escaped through the window when we opened it. Google search revealed these occurrences are frequent in spring!


Everyone associates Gulls with the sea but many live inland.

This is a Black Headed Gull the most common inland gull. But it’s head isn’t black! This was in February and in winter they have a white head with dark ear patch.


Here is one at end of March with head now black


Here are some Pheasants I saw at Bolton Abbey. The males are more colourful as you can see when you look at the female bird at the left of the picture. There are many of them all around our district. The second Pheasant photo is at Haworth but you can see them all around Skipton area.



Ducks and ducklings are all over the district.

Here are some on the canal. There are lots of species. The majority of one’s round here are Mallard. The males (drakes) have green heads when adult.




This one will be recognised by everyone, A Blue Tit


This one is a Red Kite. I took this in Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway at Loch Ken but there is a breeding colony at Harewood House near Harrogate and Leeds and the ones from there are known to fly over the Yorkshire Dales and sadly our local paper recently reported that one had been found locally shot dead.


Finally to many Yorkshiremen this is the most famous “Bird” of all !!! Although I took this photo in Leeds so not in Craven District and the man pictured on Dickie’s Balcony is Jason Gillespie an Aussie!



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