Yorkshire Photo Explorer

Askham Bog Nature Reserve

Bank vole, Askham BogAskham Bog Nature Reserve, near York, is a fantastic location for some wildlife photography. I’ve been visiting the site over the last few weeks and each time I come, I see something different. Run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the site is located on an ancient lake and is a mixture of woodland and fenlands. There are lots of birds to see and photograph, as well as roe deer, insects and, if you can spot them, voles such as the bank vole in the main picture above.

I had originally visited hoping to see some water voles. I found out later that there haven’t been any water voles on site for some years, after a mink destroyed the population. However, I did come across a number of bank voles scurrying around in the undergrowth. It was a great privilege to watch them and I managed a few decent photos. I was surprised at how bold they were, with one of them at one point digging amongst the leaves by my shoe (although I did sit still for about 2 hours on the floor for that to happen!).

Bank vole, Askham BogBank vole, Askham Bog

Bank vole, Askham BogRoe deer can usually be seen and I’ve spotted one or two on most visits. They can sometimes be tricky to spot amongst the trees, but they often venture near to or on the boardwalk, especially if it’s quiet.

Roe deer, Askham BogRoe deer, Askham BogMoving onto birds, there are a lot to photograph! Buzzards are very common. On my last visit I was treated to the sight of a buzzard with its prey (possibly a weasel). I was lucky to capture this. I’d been watching this buzzard circle low over the fields for about half an hour and I decided to sit down and have a rest. Just as I was about to leave, it flew over me. I grabbed my camera and got a few pictures whilst it was still low in the sky. As I was tracking it, I realised it had something in its talons, but it wasn’t until I looked back through the pictures that I realised what it was.

Buzzard with prey, Askham BogBuzzard with prey, Askham BogWoodpeckers also frequent the bog, but can be tricky to spot. My last trip gave me an unexpected view of a woodpecker with a mouthful of grubs. This was another lucky shot, as it flew straight past me and landed on a nearby tree.

Great spotted woodpecker with grubs, Askham BogKestrels and owls are other larger birds you can see. I’ve seen a tawny owl, but didn’t manage a picture, and several people have told me barn owls can regularly be seen at dusk. I’ve been a bit more successful with the kestrels – this kestrel also flew straight past me and landed in a nearby tree, allowing me a quick photo.

Kestrel, Askham BogThere is an abundance of smaller birds at Askham Bog Nature Reserve, especially tits. I’ve regularly seen blue tits, coal tits, great tits and long tailed tits. Some of them are very bold as they are used to being fed and will come and check you out.

Long tailed tit, Askham Bog

Long tailed tit

Coal tit, Askham Bog

Coal tit

Great tit, Askham Bog

Great tit

Blue tit, Askham Bog

Blue tit

I also saw my first ever tree creeper, just next the boardwalk, and my first black cap. I know they are both quite common, but I get excited when I see something new!

Tree creeper, Askham Bog

Tree creeper

Black cap, Askham Bog

Black cap

Askham Bog Nature Reserve is fast becoming one of my go-to sites for wildlife photography. I will definitely be coming back. One day I hope to see the tawny owl again and this time get a picture! This is a highly recommended location for all nature photography lovers.

Here are a some more photos from my visits to Askham Bog Nature Reserve (click on an image to enlarge):

Approximate post code (for sat nav) YO23 2UB
Parking There is a free car park at the entrance to the reserve
Website http://www.ywt.org.uk/reserves/askham-bog-nature-reserve

This is the location of Askham Bog Nature Reserve:

Notes for next time
  • Come late evening for more chance of seeing the owls
  • Come back in different seasons to see more wildlife!

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