Whitelee wildlife

Discover what plants and animals have already been recorded at Whitelee.

Whitelee has a patchwork of habitats that provide homes for a wide mixture of plants and animals. These habitats and species being within an operational windfarm poses both challenges and opportunities.

The windfarm operators, ScottishPower Renewables, have an ecology team who monitor and manage the wildlife of the site, overseen by the Whitelee Habitat Management Group. The Whitelee Countryside Rangers also carry out wildlife recording and biodiversity improvements. For more information on Whitelee's biodiversity contact the Countryside Rangers.

Plants, birds and insects are the most common types of wildlife that visitors will encounter, but there's lots more to discover...

Habitats

Whitelee covers an area of approximately 78kmĀ²/30.3 milesĀ². 22 habitats were identified in total: 5 are on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), and 3 are on the BAP lists of the 3 council areas. The land can be broadly broken down into 3 distinct habitat types:

  • Conifer plantation  -   3186 hectares
  • Modified and unmodified blanket bog - 1055 hectares
  • Acid and marshy grassland and transitional habitats - 1059 hectares

Flora

To date, 356 plant species have been recorded within the windfarm. Of the species recorded, 1 is of national importance:

Veilwort (Pallavicinia lyellii) is a bryophyte (a non-vascular plant), and the rarest plant found so far, and is considered 'vulnerable' in the UK and Europe. For more visit the Plant Life website

Herbs

Visitors are more likely to spot more conspicuous, brightly coloured herbaceous plants such as Colt's-foot, Heather or Bog Asphodel. 106 herbaceous plants plus a further 22 tree species have been recorded to date.

Fungi

Fungi flora have largely been under-recorded but so far we've identified 52 fungi species.

One species - Moor Club (Clavaria argillacea) is of regional importance but something visitors are more likely to notice is a bright red coloured Russula (a number of species of fungi) found growing throughout the site's conifer plantations.

Lichens

Surveys of the Whitelee extension identified 94 lichen species and we've identified 9 further species from around the windfarm. Of the total, 3 are nationally rare, 5 are nationally scarce and 6 are locally rare.

Birds

Birds have been well recorded and to date 101 species have been identified, including a number of red list species of conservation concern. There's still scope for this list to expand as the site's habitats are managed and developed.

The location of the windfarm on high open moorland with conifer plantations makes it a valuable habitat for raptors (birds of prey), as well as waders and large populations of Skylark and Meadow Pipit.

Buzzards and Kestrels are routinely seen hunting small mammals, and for the very fortunate there are more exciting species to be seen including:

  • Barn owl
  • Short-eared owl
  • Tawny owl
  • Hen Harrier
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Merlin

Mammals

17 mammal species have been recorded within the windfarm including several rare species such as Eurasian Otter, Pine Marten and Brown Hare.

Amphibians and reptiles

5 species of amphibian and reptile have been recorded including:

  • Common Lizard
  • Adder
  • Common Frog
  • Common Toad
  • Palmate Newt

The windfarm could be a vital stronghold for the declining Adder.

Please note, this is the UK's only venomous snake, so if you see a snake in the windfarm don't go near it.

Invertebrates

Invertebrates have been largely under-recorded, and those records that exist are from small surveys, as well as through incidental observations. Over time it's expected that this list will expand considerably through increased surveying. 148 insect species have been identified so far with moths accounting for the largest number of these.

Need more wildlife information?

Contact the Countryside Rangers.

Last modified on 30 July 2021

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