Wildlife living in the Peak District comes as a rich assortment thanks to careful management by landowners and the preservation of habitats and wildlife environments in association with residents, visitors and the National Park Authority.
There are numerous Nature Reserves and more than eighty SSSI’s (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) in the Peak District and Derbyshire where often rare or unusual species can be found. With the help and support of Natural England, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Peak District as well as various departments of the Peak District National Park Authority together with general wildlife enthusiasts and associated local businesses, vulnerable species of wildlife living in the Peak District are carefully protected, their numbers monitored and habitats preserved.
Having a diverse topography to include exposed and isolated moorland, glacial edges, deep valleys and wooded gorges as well as rich pasture and semi-urban residential areas, the Peak District provides an extensive range of habitats to suit a wide variety of wildlife; its only failing is the lack of a coastline!
Archaeological remains found in various important sites around the Peak District confirm that in the far distant past wildlife including mammoth, sabre-tooth tigers and woolly rhinoceros roamed hereabouts. It is recorded that wolves did not die out in the Peak District until some five hundred years ago and were commonly hunted in the Forest of the Peak. Nowadays however, wildlife living in the Peak District is generally harmless with most ‘wildlife’ injuries actually being caused by domesticated pets or farm animals.
The moorland areas of the Dark Peak are home to some spectacular birdlife including golden plover, occasional merlin and the extremely rare and protected hen harriers, whilst peregrine falcons have become resident in several disused as well as working quarries in the region. The melodic tunes of curlew, the warbling cry of lapwing and the sweet singing of skylark herald the onset of spring for ground nesting birds, whilst deep in the woods a yaffling laugh denotes the presence of green woodpeckers searching out a mate, with repetitive knocking sounds from high above as they dig away at rotting trunks in a search for insects.
Oh what joy to see the flash of white from a moorland hare high on the Peak District hills. A very long way from its cousins in Scotland, this wonderful creature in its camouflage white coat looks strangely conspicuous as winter snow begins to melt, its brown summer outfit still to arrive!
Nocturnal forms of wildlife include the badger whose regular paths cut through the countryside like miniature Roman roads, together with foxes, owls, mice, voles, shrews and various bats, some of which have colonised in Peak District caverns and caves. Crystal clear rivers running through Derbyshire dales support water voles, whose numbers are thankfully on the increase following a few years of decimation from escaped mink.
Wildlife in the Peak District encompasses many species which pass relatively unnoticed including a plethora of insects, butterflies and moths or a slime of amphibians that live in dew ponds, pools and around shallow lakes.
Not only is the Peak District enjoyed and appreciated by humans, but it is visited each year by migratory winged wildlife and is a permanent home to a multitude of animals, insects, birds and fauna which make wildlife in the Peak District one of the natural wonders of the British Isles.