Discover Yorkshire's Wildlife
Yorkshire has so much outdoor space for wildlife from rolling countryside to the stunning vast white cliffs along the Flamborough Headland and is home to a rich abundance of natural wildlife, from puffins to red kites, to deer and red squirrels to porpoises and dolphins.
The best place to start if you want to get up close with nature has to be the Yorkshire Nature Triangle spanning from the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds, to the imposing 400ft chalk cliffs to the East Coast and mighty Humber Estuary.
Between Bridlington and Scarborough you will find a wildlife treasure trove at the Flamborough Cliffs where every year over a quarter of a million seabirds descend to breed, offering visitors brilliant views of puffins, gannets, kittiwakes and many more.
By far the most popular viewing point has to be RSPB Bempton Cliffs. You can walk along the nature trail and hire Discover Backpacks for the kids so they can identify the wildlife themselves.
Head south along the coast and you’ll arrive at Spurn Point, also one of the country’s top bird migration hotspots, just an hours drive from the hustle and bustle of Hull. The sinuous peninsula sticking out into the mouth of the Humber acts as a crossing point for birds heading off and coming back from their long migration.
Travel west to the Yorkshire Wolds, Tophill Low Nature Reserve and Blacktoft Sands. The Yorkshire Wolds host spectacular views of the majestic red kite. With the wildlife best seen on foot, bike or horse, you’ll spot brown hares darting across the fields, hear singing skylarks and inhale the scent of pink orchids as they attract clouds of butterflies.
Blacktoft Sands sits near Goole on the south bank of the River Ouse, where it widens to become the Humber Estuary. This magical reserve hosts a diverse population of waders, warblers and raptors, easily spotted from the accessible trails and hides. It's also a great place for watching the breathtaking courtship display of marsh harriers and see wild ponies grazing on the reserve. Tophill Low Nature Reserve sits alongside the River Hull in the very heart of Holderness – a mix of wetlands, woodland and grassland surround two massive water reservoirs, providing homes for a whole host of iconic species including otters, water voles, kingfishers, grass snakes and barn owls.
Outside of the triangle there are still vast amounts of wildlife waiting to be spotted.
Head further to West Yorkshire and you might see barn owls, otters, marsh harriers, bitterns, avocets, as well as butterflies and wildflowers.
Adel Dam has all the elements of a typical English countryside. With badgers and deer, ferns and bluebells, this peaceful reserve also straddles Adel Beck, home to kingfishers, birds of prey such as sparrowhawks and occasionally you may be able to spot the one off red kite circling the site.
Experience wildlife-friendly farming in action near Huddersfield at the Stirley Community Farm, with a food training garden, bee hives and a beef shorthorn herd and for some spectacular Pennine landscape, Broadhead Clough Nature Reserve, offers an energising climb through the tranquil mature woodland to the top of the valley.
South Yorkshire is home to Doncaster’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park, the perfect place for some family fun. Meet some of the most beautiful and endangered animals in the world at this walkthrough wildlife adventure that is home to one of the largest polar bear reserves in the world and the famous rescued Romanian Lions!
Situated nearby at the heart of South Yorkshire’s Dearne Valley, Old Moor is a fantastic place to watch wildlife. The skies, fields and open water are teeming with birds throughout the year. In summer you can see the grasslands ablaze with butterflies and orchids and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to see newly hatched ducklings.
One of the richest wildlife sites in South Yorkshire is Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve in the Don Gorge. This patchwork of open water, wetland, woodland, and grassland was one inhabited by Ice Age woolly mammoths and rhinos. Nowadays you’re more likely to see woodpeckers and brown hares in addition to wild orchids and trees such as ash, elm and hazel. You can also saunter up the side of the Don Gorge or make the most of the reserve’s location on the Trans Pennine rail and cycle or walk to nearby Denaby Ings.
In North Yorkshire, The Yorkshire Dales National Park encompasses 840 square miles of outstanding scenery, protected wildlife and rich heritage. Enjoy a tree-filled trek to the spectacular Aysgarth Falls where you may spot a roe deer or two. Head east to Askham Bog which is a hive of activity when it comes to flora and fauna. Get there early enough and you might spy roe deer or woodcocks. Foxes are also regular visitors as well as birds such as willow tits, buzzards and reed warblers. Water beetles and dragonflies can be seen at certain times of the year and the bog is also home to England’s largest colony of gingerbread sedge.