Embrace the New Year with Yorkshire’s Winter Wildlife Watching
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Embrace the New Year with Yorkshire’s Winter Wildlife Watching

Winter emphasizes the sculptural beauty of our surroundings, grass and tree branches tinted with glittering frost and lit in the low sun by a pale blue or pink sky. The air is frigid and clean, and familiar surroundings take on a hint of wonderland. Wildlife can be easier to spot in the crispness of winter too.

Much of our wildlife is as bustlingly busy as before Starling murmuration starling murmurations start forming in November, especially around wetland reedbeds, and last until early January. More and more birds will flock together as the weeks go on, and the number of starlings in a roost can swell to around 100,000 in some places. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have several fantastic reserves to watch murmurations from.
Drumming woodpeckers great spotted woodpeckers are glossy black and white birds with a splash of red beneath their tail – males also have a red patch on their nape. Listen out at Moorlands nature reserve or Askham Bog nature reserve on the edge of York for great spotted woodpeckers, and later into the spring at Allerthorpe Common for green woodpeckers.

Birds of Prey Sixteen birds of prey and four species of owl are regularly seen in Yorkshire; amongst others, look out for short eared owls on the coast in winter, and peregrine falcons on our wetlands. Red kites are identified by a forked tail and are one of our most unmistakable and now abundant birds of prey across Yorkshire.

They are commonly seen at Cali Heath nature reserve -– along with, for lucky and quiet visitors, the ghostly beautiful barn owl. Peregrines often swoop down to agitate the waders roosting for the winter at Wheldrake Ings (take care the reserve isn’t flooded before you visit!) and Askham Bog is a great place to spot buzzards, kites, kestrels and sparrowhawks – amongst others! Yorkshire is home to an incredible wealth of precious wildlife. Join as a member this year and help Yorkshire Wildlife Trust care for over 100 nature reserves – creating wilder havens for wildlife and people to enjoy. Visit www.ywt.org.uk/membership

Amy Cooper is the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s communications officer