Summer

Summer is the time when birds and animals are hard at work feeding their young. Even night hunting creatures like owls sometimes have to keep going into the daylight hours to catch enough food. The flowers in the road verges and hay meadows reach their peak and butterflies make the most of the ample supply of nectar.

Look out for:

* A stoat hunting along the line of a wall. These fast little creatures are deadly hunters and know that rabbits like to hide in holes in drystone walls

* Families of wrens hunting in and out along the tops of drystone walls. For such a tiny bird, the wren must have one of the loudest songs

* A hay meadow in full flower, on a hot summer’s day there’s no finer sight (or smell!). Many have footpaths running though them but try not to trample the grass – it may look beautiful to you but to a farmer it also means winter food for his stock. Swaledale has some of our finest hay meadows but Dentdale has some lovely ones too especially alongside the Dales Way and The National Trust’s Upper Wharfedale estate is also rich in these traditional meadows

* Keep your ears open for the mewing call of a buzzard, floating lazily on a rising current of warm air but keeping a sharp look out for a meal. These huge birds of prey are making a come back in the Dales. Keen birdwatchers might also spot the rarer hen harrier and red kite

* Watch the fastest bird on earth – the peregrine – at Malham Cove. Effortless and magnificent, it can dive after prey at over 200mph. During the summer volunteers are there with powerful telescopes to help you spot them.

* Take a torch and go bat spotting. The Yorkshire Dales has several different species of these fascinating creatures. By a river you might see large Daubenton’s bats skimming along grabbing insects with their large feet from the surface of the water or near house lights watch out for tiny Pipistrelles snatching an easy meal from the gathering insects, Don’t forget the midge repellent though!