The Ultimate Guide to Wildlife in North Yorkshire

Settled between the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the rugged coastline of the North Sea, North Yorkshire is a beautiful corner of England home to a variety of wildlife. With diverse wildlife and thriving marine ecosystems, there are endless opportunities to explore wildlife in North Yorkshire.

From the windswept moorlands where red deer roam to the tranquil woodlands echoing with the calls of songbirds, North Yorkshire is a paradise for wildlife lovers. In this guide, we’ll delve into the lives of North Yorkshire’s most iconic residents, covering the best places to spot them and the optimal times of year for wildlife-watching adventures.

Whether it’s majestic birds of prey like peregrine falcons and barn owls or playful seals basking on rocky shores and friendly dolphins leaping through the waters off Scarborough, you’ll be amazed by the diversity of the wildlife in North Yorkshire. So, grab your binoculars, lace up your walking boots, and prepare to experience the best wildlife sightings on Yorkshire’s doorstep.

Wildlife in North Yorkshire: Land Animals

North Yorkshire’s rugged landscapes are home to many fascinating land mammals, which makes a trip to the north of the UK all the more exciting. From red deer to badgers, here’s a glimpse into the wildlife in North Yorkshire that you can spot. 

Red Deer

Keep your eyes peeled for the magnificent red deer, especially in the moorlands and woodlands of North Yorkshire. They often roam in groups, particularly during the autumn rutting season when the males compete for dominance. For the best chance of spotting them, head to the North York Moors National Park or the Yorkshire Dales, where they thrive in their natural habitats.

Roe Deer

A sighting of the graceful roe deer is every nature enthusiast’s dream when exploring the wildlife in North Yorkshire. With their distinctive springs, roe deer are often spotted bounding through woodland edges and open fields. Look out for them in the early mornings or late evenings when they’re most active. Areas like Dalby Forest and the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are prime locations for roe deer encounters.


One of Britain’s most beloved creatures, hedgehogs are a common sight in gardens and green spaces across North Yorkshire. With their endearing snuffles and unmistakable spiky coats, hedgehogs are delightful little animals too cute not to love. 


Delve into the nocturnal world of badgers as you venture into the countryside to spot wildlife in North Yorkshire. Known for their distinctive black and white markings, badgers are elusive creatures that primarily make an appearance at dusk. To catch a glimpse of them going about their nightly routines, settle in quietly near their sets in woodlands or hedgerows, particularly in the Yorkshire Wolds.

For those looking to observe wildlife in North Yorkshire, you’ll find hedgehog-friendly habitats and lots of other wildlife housing at Angrove Country Park. Having won multiple David Bellamy Awards for Conservation, this is a holiday destination where you’ll be able to spot lots of wildlife whilst walking around the park.

Wildlife in North Yorkshire: Birds 

The avian wildlife in North Yorkshire is made up of both resident and migratory birds, filling the skies with song and colour. From the dramatic coastline to the sprawling moorlands, we’ve selected a couple of our favourite birds that soar high above the English countryside.


Prepare to be enchanted by the charismatic puffins in North Yorkshire that reside in the coastal cliffs. These adorable seabirds, with their distinctive black and white plumage and brightly coloured bills, are a sight to behold for birdspotters. 

If you’re wondering where to see puffins in North Yorkshire, head to the stunning cliffs of Flamborough Head or the rugged shores of Bempton Cliffs. In the months between April and July, you’ll be in with a good chance of seeing them nesting and fishing in the surrounding waters.


Bird lovers will recognise the eerie and haunting calls of the curlews echoing across the moorlands and wet grasslands of North Yorkshire. These elegant waders, with their long, curved bills and mottled brown plumage, are symbolic of the region’s wild beauty. Visit the North York Moors or the Yorkshire Dales during the breeding season from February to July for the best chance to spot these iconic birds.

Peregrine Falcons

These majestic birds of prey in Yorkshire are a sight to behold, with their incredible speed and agility allowing them to rule over the skies. The peregrine is the largest falcon and incredibly, is one of the fastest animals on the planet. When it dives down on its prey, it can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour!

Those who spot the peregrine falcons in flight will be amazed by their aerial acrobatic skills. Keep your eyes peeled and binoculars on hand when near coastal cliffs and upland crags, as this is where peregrines nest and hunt throughout the year.


The buzzard, which once suffered from severe persecution and pesticide poisoning, has made an amazing comeback in recent years. With their broad wingspan and distinctive cat-like calls, buzzards are now one of the most common birds of prey in Yorkshire, frequently spotted in the region’s woodlands and open landscapes. Keep a lookout for them perched on fence posts or gliding effortlessly across the sky, especially in areas like Nidderdale and the Howardian Hills. 

Birdwatchers will be in for a treat if they catch a male buzzard mid-flight during springtime. It’s mating season, so the males will perform a ‘roller coaster’ flight pattern, ascending high in the sky before swooping down repeatedly in an enchanting dance. 

Barn Owls

Experience the magic of twilight as you search for the silhouette of the barn owl gliding silently over North Yorkshire’s countryside. With their heart-shaped faces and ghostly white plumage, barn owls are a distinctive symbol of mystery and elegance amongst the birds of prey in Yorkshire. Explore the farmland and meadows of North Yorkshire, especially at dusk and dawn, for a glimpse of these nocturnal hunters in action.

Popular Birdwatching Spots

Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher or a casual observer, the variety of avian wildlife in North Yorkshire will amaze you. There are plenty of prime places to catch a glimpse of Yorkshire’s favourite winged inhabitants, but these are our top picks.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Staveley Nature Reserve

Nestled in the tranquil countryside of North Yorkshire, this nature reserve offers a peaceful retreat for birds and bird watchers. Wander along trails that wind through lush forests, calm wetlands, and picturesque meadows, all of which are full of a variety of birdlife. Keep your eyes peeled for rare woodland species like the great spotted woodpecker and the melodious song thrush, or catch a glimpse of waterfowl gliding across the reserve’s ponds and lakes. 

RSPB Bempton Cliffs 

Perched on the edge of the Yorkshire coast overlooking the North Sea, Bempton Cliffs is a haven for seabirds. Its towering chalk cliffs provide nesting sites for thousands of different species during the breeding season. From the iconic puffins to the graceful gannets and vibrant razorbills, prepare to be enchanted by the noisy colonies that call this dramatic coastline home.

Wildlife in North Yorkshire: Marine Life 

Dive into the underwater world along the coastline and discover a treasure trove of marine wildlife in North Yorkshire waiting to be explored. From playful seals and dolphins to majestic whales, the marine habitats here are teeming with fascinating creatures that will leave you starstruck.


Keep your eyes peeled for the adorable seals at Ravenscar, lounging on the rocky shores of North Yorkshire. Ravenscar is home to a huge seal colony made up of both grey and common seals. Known for their playful antics and soulful eyes, these charismatic creatures are a joy to observe. 

They can often be found ‘hauled out’ on the coast throughout their breeding season from late summer through to autumn, which is when we see them relaxing and recharging on land. Grey seals are the species that give birth to fluffy white pups, so if you’re wondering when the best chance is to see these babies basking in the sun or playing in the water, August to November is prime time. 


Embark on an unforgettable adventure and go whale watching in Whitby. From majestic minke whales to awe-inspiring humpbacks, these marine giants are some of the most impressive sightings of wildlife in North Yorkshire. 

With their sleek bodies and distinctive white markings, minke whales are one of the most commonly sighted species. They gracefully glide through the waves, often breaching the surface and feeding on schools of fish in the rich waters off the Yorkshire coast.

A humpback whale sighting is less common and for those fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, an encounter with these underwater giants is an experience beyond comparison. Known for their acrobatic leaps and haunting songs, they migrate through the waters off North Yorkshire during the summer months, often travelling in pairs. 


You may be surprised to find out that you don’t have to travel too far afield to see everybody’s favourite marine animal. Visitors will be delighted by the sight of playful dolphins dancing in the wake of boats off the coast of Scarborough. With their acrobatic leaps and cheerful chirps, these highly sociable swimmers are a joy to behold. 

All throughout the year, you can encounter bottlenose dolphins in British waters. They travel in small groups of up to 15 and they love to leap out of the water, happily approaching boats to bowride. They’re hard to miss too, as Britain’s bottlenose dolphins are the biggest of their kind – this is so they can stay warm in our cold and choppy waters.


We hope this guide has ignited your excitement about the amazing wildlife-spotting opportunities in North Yorkshire. Delve into the heart of this stunning region and discover a nature lover’s dream, where every turn allows you to encounter an animal that you may have never seen before. 

From the graceful red deer leaping through the moorlands to the playful seals sunbathing along the coastline and the enchanting birds soaring overhead, North Yorkshire is teeming with rich wildlife diversity. If you want to take these memories home with you to frame, be sure to bring your binoculars and camera, as there’s certainly no shortage of photo opportunities in this captivating corner of England! 

Looking for a base to explore the incredible wildlife in North Yorkshire? Leisure Resorts has an amazing selection of luxury holiday homes nestled in the heart of North Yorkshire at our award-winning Angrove Country Park. Relax in comfort and style surrounded by nature’s beauty, and wake up each morning to the sights and sounds of the countryside.

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