The rare Yorkshire wildlife you might not know about - and where to see it

When picking out a place to spot rare and exotic wildlife, Yorkshire doesn't typically top the list.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 5th July 2018, 5:58 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 4:47 pm
How many of these rare species have you seen in Yorkshire?
How many of these rare species have you seen in Yorkshire?

But the county is home to a huge range of habitats, from coastland, to forests and moorland, within which live a surprising array of secret inhabitatnts.

Here are just a few of of the rare wildlife that can be spotted across the county.

Red Squirrels

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Red Kites can typically be spotted on the Harewood House estate

The Widdale Red Squirrel Reserve in Wensleydale is one of just 16 areas in the UK which is dedicated to preserving the red squirrel in its natural habitat.

The Snaizeholme Red Squirrel Trail lies at the heart of the reserve, and is features a viewing area offering excellent views of the creatures, without disturbing them.


Europe's largest mainland seabird colony clings to Flamborough Cliffs, which boasts unrivalled views of puffins, particularly during spring.

Minke whales can sometimes be spotted in the shadows of Whitby Abbey

Bempton Cliffs is also a great spot to catch a glimpse of the seabird, from both the viewing points and at the visitor centre, where live images are beamed back using CCTV, and puffin patrols are also run every weekend from Easter until July.


Take a trip on one of Whitby's Whale Watching tours and if you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a whale along the coast, with humpbacks, fin, sperm and minke whales all having been sighted in the area over the years.


Potteric Carr in Doncaster is home to 200 hectares of protected meadows and wetlands, and boasts a great variety of wildlife to discover, including the rare and secretive Bittern, whose pale and brown plumage can make it difficult to spot in the reeds by the water's edge.


The Living Seas Centre in Flamborough is a great spot to discover what lies beneath the surface and their boat trips offer a a great opportunity to spot some marine wildlife along the coast, including dolphins and porpoise.

Roe Deer

Larger mammals like the brown bear, wolf and wildcat died out hundreds of years ago, but smaller mammals, like the deer, voles and badgers, can be spotted around the Dales.

Herds of roe deer can be spotted at the Grass Wood Nature Reserve, close to Grassington, in quieter parts of the reserve.

Golden Plover

The golden plover arrives in the summer and can be glimpsed at Commondale Moor, in the North York Moors, during the breeding season, as well as at Old Moor near Barnsley and in the South Pennine's, which is boasts a distinctive array of bird life.

Red Kites

If you want to witness the impressive display of red kites in full flight, head to Harewood House near Leeds for a good chance of spotting them.

The birds were released on the estate in 1999 as part of a conservation initiative, so their numbers are gradually increasing each year, and they can also be seen in the Yorkshire Wolds, particularly in the South Cave and Londesborough areas.


Tophill Low Nature Reserve is one of the best locations in the country for catching a glimpse of Kingfishers, and is home to two reservoirs, marshes, ponds, woodland and grassland, offering plenty of ground to explore and search for wildlife.

Water Vole

As well as Kingfishers, Tophill Low Nature Reserve is also a great place to spot some rare species, including water vole, purple heron and otter.

Grass snakes are also commonly spotted here by the reservoir during spring.