Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has published a colourful new guide to their very best places in Yorkshire for wildlife watching throughout the year.

Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife is a comprehensive companion for anyone looking to explore Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s numerous reserves, including information on the best reserves for families, birdwatching, fungi and flowers, top reserves for each season, and a seasonal suggested walking route.

Professor Alastair Fitter, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Trustee and Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of York, tells us more about the importance of these places for wildlife and the people who enjoy it, in an excerpt from the book and encourages us to 'lose yourself in the natural world.'

Alastair adds; '’Reserved for nature’ is not (or shouldn’t be) a place where things are kept unchanged and where people aren’t welcome. Some reserves are quite wild and though people are allowed on them, and encouraged, it’s on nature’s terms.

'At another extreme, urban parks can be important refuges where nature exists on our terms. And then there is everything in between, including my favourite, Askham Bog. It is rarely fully explored but the Trust has created an amazing boardwalk that allows all visitors to experience at least some of its magic. Every reserve in the book is open for your enjoyment: the wild, the wilder and the wildest, from the big flagship reserves to Yorkshire’s most remote hidden gems.'

‘Reserved for nature’ doesn’t mean that nature is left alone; all of the reserves are managed, often to maintain a habitat important for a rare species, he explains. Left to nature, most of Yorkshire would turn to woodland; perfect for some creatures, less so for others.

Great British Life: A meadowfield on a summer's day full of wildflowers. (c) YWTA meadowfield on a summer's day full of wildflowers. (c) YWT

Says Professor Fitter, 'It seems contradictory that some species rely on us to maintain the habitats they need, but that’s because we have so dramatically altered nature – most large herbivores and all large carnivores have gone. They would have created a mosaic of habitats allowing species to thrive.

'We also hear a lot about re-wilding. Properly done, this means letting nature take its course without human intervention. In practice what mostly happens is ‘wilding;’ reducing our level of management over time to allow natural processes to take the lead. This is what the Trust is now doing on some of its reserves, most recently and notably at Ingleborough.'

This means the next edition pf the guide could well be bigger, he adds.

'Yorkshire’s nature reserves could be more full of life, with more to encounter and enjoy; bigger, and support for more species including those that cannot survive in small areas. And there will be more places, as we create a network of joined-up habitats that are friendlier to wildlife to allow plants and animals to meet and mingle. The Trust has begun to do this in the Lower Aire Valley and around Potteric Carr.

Reserves are what we all want and allow them to be – now we need your to help ensure they will also be bigger, better and more joined up.'

Whether it’s a close encounter with puffins on spectacular white cliffs, multicolour meadows buzzing with bees and brimming with butterflies, or wondrous wetlands welcoming wintering wildfowl and waders in their thousands, our grand and glorious part of the world is a cracking place to experience nature at its best.

Great British Life: Potteric Carr nature reserve. (c) Catrin Rees Potteric Carr nature reserve. (c) Catrin Rees

Keen to get out exploring right away? Here are our top four reserves to explore this August:

For a day by the sea head to Flamborough Cliffs nature reserve, with its stunning coastal views, wildflowers, the chance to glimpse porpoises and other marine wildlife, and lovely beaches. Early August is also the last chance to spot the reserve’s internationally important numbers of breeding seabirds from the clifftops including kittiwakes, guillemots, and maybe a final few puffins before they depart for a winter at sea.

For those wanting more of an inland adventure, Strensall Common nature reserve is a fabulous large heathland close to York where the pink heads and grey green leaves of cross-leaved heath intermingle with the purple spikes and green foliage of ling heather. Common lizards bask on the stumps of silver birch, and you may be lucky enough to spot the occasional adder – so tread carefully! Yorkshire’s heather blossom peaks in August, so enjoy the swathe of colour.

Around two-dozen types of dragonfly breed across Yorkshire, with several others visiting as occasional migrants. A warm, sunny day is best and the margins of pools and ponds being great places to stake-out. The chaser and darter species in particular frequently perch and often favour a particular emerging stick or iris stem. Potteric Carr nature reserve is an ideal site for beginners looking to take off in their dragonfly adventure just on the edge of Doncaster.

Finally, wildlife-watchers closer to Leeds and Pontefract should explore Brockadale nature reserve, which in high summer becomes a riot of colour with dozens of butterflies fluttering around an explosion of wildflowers. The meadow makes an idyllic location for a peaceful picnic. Over 300 species of plants grow on the reserve, consisting of 33% of Yorkshire's flora and making the reserve a nationally important site.

With over 90 reserves across Yorkshire listed, there’s a wildlife wonder awaiting everyone – for seasoned wildlife watchers or for those looking for more inspiration to get started – as CEO Rachael Bice explains,

'We live in a time of big challenges, and one of the best ways to find the resilience to face these challenges is to marvel at the small things that lift our hearts and show the seasons continue. And in small things we can trust, as many small actions can make a big difference for our wildlife and for us.'

Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife (RRP £14.99) is available in all good Yorkshire bookstores and from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s online shop (ywtshop.org.uk). Copies are available for FREE to all new members who join Yorkshire Wildlife Trust (ywt.org.uk/membership or 01904 659570) and choose to pay by Direct Debit.

Great British Life: Discover Yorkshire’s Wildlife (c) YWTDiscover Yorkshire’s Wildlife (c) YWT