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Friday, February 8, 2013

My new office on Askham Bog!

I started my new job as a Wildlife Support Officer with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust a few weeks ago and thought I post a few pics from my base at Askham Bog.

Askham Bog is a small (45ha) but unique reserve being one of the very few remaining wooded fen bogs in England. Popular with naturalists  for decades, the reserve which is located just outside of York nr the village of Copmanthorpe, boasts an impressive collection of plants include fen sedge (characteristic of East Anglian Fens), bog myrtle, water violet, royal fern and rare sedges including the gingerbread sedge. In summer spotted orchids and Ragged Robin proliferate. The insect life is even more impressive with many nationally rare beetles and moths including marsh carpet and dentated pug moths.

The bird life is pretty impressive too with breeding Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Willow and Marsh Tit, Spotted Flycatcher, Treecreeper, both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker with Lesser Spotted always a possibility, all the common warblers and in Winter Redpolls, Siskins and other finches abound.

In short its a jewel of a place, a haven of natural beauty and a wonderful place to work! I spend most of my weekends there and my job is to encourage visitors to take up a membership with the Trust so that we can continue to preserve this and other habitats in Yorkshire. Its enjoyable work, I meet many interesting people and get to hang around with fellow wildlife enthusiasts .... oh and I also get to bird watch and take pictures all day long ... and they pay me for this??

Let me show you around the place. Here's the office .......

My table stand and pitch place!

And here's the rest of the building .......

Looking good in black & white
Winter colour though is even better
I'm meeting and chatting to people all day long of course but I guess my real colleagues are the birds that flit around and stick around when people are thin on the ground .... so, here's a few of my work buddies!

I'm constantly surrounded by tits! (oo err missus .... no comments please!) and along with Blue Tits these Great Tits are perhaps the most common

'Common as muck' as they say but as a photographed bird much passed over as 'garden feeder fodder' so there you go Mr Great Tit ... your very own moment of fame!

Here's a couple of  birds you may have had at your feeders too ... Great Spotted Woodpecker (they love those peanuts in red sacks!) .. and of course beautiful Long Tailed Tits
Great Spotted Woodpecker .. investigating
and then digging in!!
Long Tailed Tit ... investigating
and buoyed up with a friend ... digging in!

Stacks of Treecreepers around the reserve but really tricky to photograph because, as their name suggests, they tend to 'creep' up and down tree bark and backlight is always an issue ... these guys had to be 'manipulated' out of the can somewhat!

Here's the office bully ....... always on the lookout for one that dwells a bit too long on the seeds we put out (life in the office is rarely fair!)
Sparrowhawk (female)
We get both Marsh and Willow Tits here, the latter being the rarer and probably much in decline across much of the UK. The thing is they're so bloody difficult to tell apart that in truth I doubt anybody really knows the status of either. Well I'd better gen up on my id skills because there's a local survey in the offing and being in favourable position to contribute I've put myself forward as a recorder. Hope I don't embarrass myself from the outset but pretty sure this is the commoner of the 2 .. a Marsh Tit (if you look closely you might be able to spot near the base of his bill.. a fairly reliable id for a Marsh)

And last but certainly not least the photographer's and gardener's favourite, our trusty and bold Robin. Many more around in Winter of course as our garden and woodland populations are swelled by visitors from Northern Europe but hey they're welcome! I've had some of these feeding out of my hand already and they're on me as soon as I break out my sandwiches!

All in all, after a few weeks induction I can safely say I'm getting along just fine with my work colleagues and as far as any on the job appraisal is concerned I think I'm doing ok ... ahead of the game with 'sign ups' (the real purpose of my job) and very happy with my work surroundings!


  1. sounds like a great job Tim, your in the best position to get a LSW sighting as well!

  2. Yes, so I've been told erm ..instructed by Jono! No pressure then!!

  3. Hi, I found your blog whilst gathering information on Askham Bog as I'm interested in carrying out some research there. My e-mail address is and if you could contact me I'd be very grateful, just wanting to pick your brains! Thanks