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Whitelee Moor National Nature Reserve is one of Britain’s most important upland nature reserves, of European conservation importance due to its active blanket bog and heather heaths. The blanket bog is home to a variety of plants including sphagnum moss, cloudberry, bog asphodel and cotton grass.
On the lower slopes the heather moorland is home to birds such as red grouse, and birds of prey including merlin, buzzard, peregrine falcon and hen harrier. One of the moor’s most striking insects is the day-flying northern eggar moth and butterflies such as ringlet, small heath and green-veined white are seen in summer. Skylark, stonechat and meadow pipit are common across the reserve, while on the high ground, dunlin and golden plover arrive in spring to breed.
The River Rede and its tributaries add to the habitat diversity, and otters can often be seen hunting along its banks. Adder and common lizard are common here as well as palmate newts in the small pools along the burn. A herd of feral goats can sometimes be seen on the border with Kielderhead. There are interesting flush areas with plants such as early marsh orchid. High up the Bateinghope Burn, near Buzzard Crag, are two sets of limekilns, which burned limestone from a nearby quarry and mine.
The project will involve some habitat creation and restoration work, as well as improving access to areas of the reserve, providing a level of safe and easy access to parts of the site and carefully encouraging further exploration. This will include: