Yorkshire, a year in the wild
From the stunning National Parks of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, to the seabird cities of the county’s East Coast, Channel 5’s ‘Yorkshire – a year in the wild’ has been captivating TV audiences for the last few weeks. Tom Marshall from the Yorkshire Nature Triangle shares some top tips on where to find some of the show’s wildlife stars.
Red letter day
The red squirrel has surely been one of the stars of the show, and the Yorkshire Dales remain just one of a handful of strongholds for this increasingly scarce but delightful British wildlife icon.
The Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail near Hawes is an attractive and leisurely walk and includes a purpose-built feeding and viewing area for these diminutive mammals, although you could encounter one at any time! Local photographers also offer hides when keen nature snappers can also try for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Yorkshire’s high rise residences for 250,000 seabirds are renowned in Europe – and getting close to the action doesn’t get any easier than the headland coast north of Bridlington. Gannets – our largest seabird - and the ever-popular puffin always draw the crowds, with a supporting cast of guillemots, razorbills and raucous kittiwakes.
Fantastic all-access family viewing and live camera facilities are available at RSPB Bempton Cliffs & Seabird Centre, whilst YWT Flamborough Cliffs offers views from the stunning coast path. You can even take diving gannet photography trips with Yorkshire Coast Nature.
Chosen as a camping spot for Harry Potter and his chums in the Deathly Hallows, the unique limestone pavement and cliffs of Malham Cove are also home to one of the most dramatic nests in Yorkshire – that of the peregrine falcon.
Here the fastest animal on the planet can raise a family and the sheer cliffs provide an ideal Top Gun training school for eager youngsters at the end of the summer. You can also spot peregrines at Scarborough, York, Sheffield and Leeds where they make a home on city buildings.
Strictly for the birds
There’s still time to catch one of nature’s most romantic moments in spring, when great crested grebes indulge in their exquisite pair bonding dance. The mirroring of movement and split-second choreography culminates in a final flourish of walking of water. Later in spring, look out for the black and white striped ‘humbug’ chicks riding on their parents’ backs.
Yorkshire’s vast array of wetland nature reserves all offer a chance to experience this ‘Strictly’ show on water, including RSPB Old Moor and YWT Potteric Carr in South Yorkshire, YWT North Cave Wetlands near Hull and YWT Staveley in North Yorkshire where otters frequently make an appearance too.
Seal of approval
As autumn arrives, Atlantic grey seals begin to think about finding a shady spot along the coast to have their pups. The rocky beaches below the cliffs of Whitby are the ideal crèche, whilst autumn and winter can also find the smaller common seal – actually less abundant – occasionally ‘hauled out’ on the shoreline at Filey Brigg.
Whitby Coastal Cruises can get you alongside the action in autumn, whilst during spring and summer, the Yorkshire Belle (Bridlington) gives you a chance to spot these inquisitive animals in the water, along with traditional fishing ‘coble’ cruises from North Landing (Flamborough) with the Wildlife Trust.
Yorkshire’s coastline is also becoming a well-known hotspot for whale watching, with the peak period for minke whales from around August-November, weather conditions permitting.
‘Yorkshire – a year in the wild’ is on Channel 5 on Tuesday 4th (autumn) and 11th (winter) with spring and summer episodes available on catch-up.