The Great Yorkshire Creature Count – A Wild Safari On Your Doorstep

Special Features

−−− BY LINZI DAVIES −−−

Are you ready to discover the wildlife on your doorstep? Join the Great Yorkshire Creature Count! 

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s ‘wildlife census’ is returning for its third year, bigger and better than ever. From midday Saturday 18 June until midday Sunday 19 June, the Trust is asking Yorkshire folk to spot, count and record the creatures in their outdoor spaces – starting with a list of 30 creatures great and small. 

It’s free, fun and easy to do, and everyone can take part. You can sign up now. Every single garden, yard and scrubby patch of grass could make a difference. You’ll be surprised what you find once you start looking. The Trust will give you everything you need and you’ll be helping them to support, protect and enhance Yorkshire’s wildlife.

Last year, more than 4,200 people headed outside for a doorstep safari to see what they could find by gently rummaging, stealthily watching and making a note of the worms, beetles, birds and bees feeding, resting and hiding in gardens. Between them, they counted 14,949 creatures.

■ RedKite. Image © Jon Hawkins – Surrey Hills Photography

GOOD FOR NATURE, GOOD FOR YOU

We know that spending time in nature is great for our mental health and wellbeing, and by noticing and recording the wildlife where you live you’re helping nature too. 

Dr Amir Khan, Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts and Bradford GP, said: “I love a challenge and the Great Yorkshire Creature Count will be great fun – everyone can take part. Our outdoor spaces are a lifeline for wildlife and also vital for improving our own health and wellbeing. By noticing and recording the wildlife where you live you will be helping nature and our vision of creating a wilder Yorkshire.”

There are more gardens than nature reserves in the UK and they provide crucial corridors, nesting areas and places to shelter for many of our much-loved creatures. But nature needs us. With their habitats destroyed and the pressures of climate change increasing, even our once-widespread creatures such as the common frog or the garden bumblebee are declining.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has a vision of a wilder Yorkshire where our towns, cities and countryside are connected and rich in wildlife. With your help, they can find out more about how many different creatures are making themselves at home, what we can do to protect them, and how wildlife-friendly our gardens are.

■ Red Admiral. Image © Jon Hawkins – Surrey Hills Photography

SPOT IT, COUNT IT, RECORD IT

It’s really easy to join the Great Yorkshire Creature Count. Just follow these three steps:

● Sign up at ywt.org.uk/great-yorkshire-creature-count to get your downloadable checklist, tips and advice.

● On the weekend of the Count, head outside to search for and record creatures on the checklist.

● Submit your sightings on the website.

If you want to take your count a step further you can join the project group on iNaturalist, an app for uploading your records and photos. It doesn’t matter if you’re not sure what species of creature you’ve spotted – just upload your photo and members of the iNaturalist community can identify it for you.

And if you want to get more wildlife in your life, June is the perfect time to do it! The Great Yorkshire Creature Count takes place during the UK’s biggest nature challenge: 30 Days Wild. Every year thousands of people enjoy taking part by pledging to do something wild each day in June. Everyone who signs up receives a free pack full of inspiration to guide them through the month. 

LAST YEAR’S MOST-COUNTED CREATURES

● There were seven bird species in last year’s Creature Count top ten. Blackbird, woodpigeon and house sparrow were the top three most-recorded species, with robin (5th), starling (7th), blue tit (8th) and dunnock (10th) joining them in the top ten. 

● Garden snail (4th), buff-tailed bumblebee (6th) and honey bee (9th) represented the invertebrates among the most-recorded creatures. 

● The small tortoiseshell was the most-recorded butterfly.

■ Fox. Image © Luke Massey2020VISION

HOW TO ATTRACT MORE WILDLIFE

There are all kinds of things you can do to encourage more creatures to use your outdoor space. Here are just a few:

● Attract more insects by growing plants that encourage bees and other pollinators. You don’t need much space, or a lawn or flower beds to do this – you can use pots and containers, window boxes and hanging baskets, or even walls.

● Feed your garden birds and other creatures that might visit, such as hedgehogs, and provide water for drinking and bathing – don’t forget to keep it topped up.

● Build homes and shelters for wildlife, from bee hotels and log piles to hedgehog houses and bat boxes.

● Create a pond or bog garden to increase the variety of creatures you might see.

Rachael Bice, chief executive at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“The Great Yorkshire Creature Count is getting bigger and better each year, and anyone can join in. Every single garden, yard, window box and scrubby patch of grass harbours wildlife  – you’ll be surprised by what you see when you start looking. Last year, more than 4,200 people headed outside to stealthily spot, count and record wildlife, and reported nearly 15,000 Yorkshire creatures!”

Helen Pedley has been interested in nature – particularly birds and flowers – since she was a child, but the Great Yorkshire Creature Count gave her the opportunity to sit, watch and immerse herself in her garden wildlife. She said:

“I found it really easy to take part – the spotter sheet is a great help for the most common things you’ll see. It’s so easy then to load up your records on the website. If it’s not on the sheet, most people can record a photo just with a phone, and the amount of information I got from the iNaturalist app was immense. Even if you’re looking at a flower bed for 15 minutes in your lunch break, it still gives you that little mental pick me up if you see something beautiful in a flower or a butterfly, but if you’ve got more time you can develop your knowledge. There is an ebb and a flow about wildlife. There were busy times and quiet times, and I could see how reactive nature is to things in the weather that we don’t even notice.”

For Linda Clarke, taking part in the Great Yorkshire Creature Count was a way of learning more about the wildlife on her doorstep. She said:

“I’m a birdwatcher, but the count sparked an interest in what else was around me and made me more aware. I was interested in the variety of bees that we were asked to look out for and started to notice all the different kinds of bees in the garden. This year, to follow up that interest, I’m doing a four-week Field Studies Council introductory course on bees.”

■ Garden snail. Image © Nick Upton2020VISION

Top Ten Most-Recorded Species Last Year

● Blackbird 664

● Woodpigeon 601

● House sparrow 530

● Garden snail 445

● Robin 414

● Buff-tailed bumblebee 414

● Starling 410

● Blue tit 409

● Honey bee 369

● Dunnock 352

Top Ten Most-Recorded Invertebrates

● Garden snail 445

● Buff-tailed bumblebee 414

● Honey bee 369

● Tree bumblebee 264

● 7 spot ladybird 181

● Marmalade hoverfly 176

● Small tortoiseshell butterfly 139

● Woodlouse 100

● Harlequin ladybird 53

● Peacock butterfly 49

Top Ten Most-Recorded Birds

● Blackbird 664

● Wood pigeon 601

● House sparrow 530

● Robin 413

● Starling 410

● Blue tit 409

● Dunnock 352

● Collared dove 347

● Goldfinch 332

● Great tit 291

The 30 Species Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Are Asking People To Spot In 2022

● Large red damselfly

● Aphid

● Large white butterfly

● Red admiral 

● Brimstone moth

● Buff-tailed bumblebee

● Common woodlouse 

● Marmalade hoverfly

● Zebra spider

● Garden black ant

● Garden snail

● Leopard slug

● Earthworm

● 7-spot ladybird

● Red soldier beetle

● Field grasshopper

● Grass snake

● Common frog

● Smooth newt

● Robin

● House sparrow

● Goldfinch

● Swift

● Blue tit

● Blackbird

● Red kite 

● Black headed gull

● Bat 

● Hedgehog

● Fox

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is a charity dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring wildlife and wild places in Yorkshire.

Established as a charity in 1946, their vision is for a Yorkshire that is abundant in wildlife, with more people having a genuine and meaningful connection with nature.

looking after over 100 nature reserves right across Yorkshire, they are involved in hundreds of conservation-related projects, inspiring people to understand the value of nature and to take action for it.

For over 70 years, they have been protecting Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places, working across land and sea; from hills and valleys, to beaches and city streets. Wherever you are in Yorkshire, you’re only approximately 20 miles from one of their nature reserves – wild havens on your doorstep where you can connect with nature.

Now more than ever before, we need a society where nature matters. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust inspire thousands of children, families and individuals every year; helping them to connect with their local wildlife through events and engagement programmes.

There is a great variety of events on offer with something to interest everyone whether young or old or inbetween! Here is a selection coming up soon.

Masterclass: Watercolour Painting Workshop

Saturday 2 July 2022 10:00am – 5:00pm

Flamborough Village Hall, Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire

This event combines the beauty and splendour of nature with your artistic aspirations guided by a local professional artist.

Glow-Worm Walk (multiple dates)

Friday 24 June 2022 – Friday 22 July 2022 10:00pm – 12:00am

Townclose Hills Nature Reserve, 

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Join our expert guide for a night-time adventure in search of glow-worms. Don’t miss this wildlife wonder!

Waves Of Waste Beach Clean At Filey South

Sunday 26 June 2022 10:00am – 12:00pm

Filey Beach, Filey, East Riding of Yorkshire

Join our Waves of Waste co-ordinators as they give Filey South beach a thorough tidy up to protect marine wildlife.

Livestock Needle Felting

Sunday 26 June 2022 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Spurn National Nature Reserve, 

Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Join us for an afternoon of Livestock Needle Felting & create your own personal grazing friend, using our Spurn Hebridean Sheep wool!

Seashore Safari 

Multiple dates up to Wednesday 31 August 2022

Scarborough South Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

Join our Living Seas team for a guided tour of the rocky shore and go in search of weird and wonderful marine life within the rockpools

Wild in the Woods 

Multiple dates up to Tuesday 30 August 2022 11:00am – 1:00pm

Potteric Carr nature reserve, 

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Experience the woods in a new light; take on the challenge of lighting a fire, building a shelter and cooking a tasty snack on the campfire whilst nestling in this gorgeous woodland setting.

Full details on all these events, plus many more can be found at;

www.ywt.org.uk

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