Fen Bog

It’s difficult to pick a favourite nature reserve, as they’re all so different and vary so much with the seasons, but one of my favourites must be Fen Bog, on the North York Moors. It’s in a hidden valley surrounded by moorland, with a boggy mire in the centre.

Volunteers pulling bracken

I usually only visit once a year, when Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have a conservation volunteer work day there. This year we’ve had two days, cutting back the bracken on the valley sides which threatens to engulf the reserve. The denser patches are cleared with brushcutters while thinner and steeper areas can be pulled by hand, minimizing damage to the surrounding vegetation. It’s one of those reserves where the results of our work can be clearly seen from one year to the next. Areas of dense bracken we brushcut last year just needed a tidy up by hand this year.

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Large skipper sipping nectar from a thistle

This is a great place to find some interesting insect and plant species we don’t usually see elsewhere, such as the Small pearl-bordered fritillary, which is an absolutely stunning butterfly. On a cool morning, as we had this week, they’ll rest on a bracken frond to warm up, providing a perfect photo opportunity. On the thistles we found Large skipper butterflies and in shaded areas lower in the valley we came across the small white flowers of Chickweed wintergreen.

Chickweed wintergreen

Bog asphodel

Round-leaved sundew

In the mire areas there is Bog asphodel, whose yellow flowers are just starting to open, and the amazing carnivorous Round-leaved sundew, which catches insects in its sticky sap and digests them. These areas are patrolled by the Keeled skimmer dragonfly, which is locally quite rare.

Keeled skimmer

A periodic distraction is the North York Moors railway, which runs alongside the reserve. Volunteers always stop work when a steam train comes past and wave at the train. The passengers wave back and often the driver sounds the whistle in acknowledgment!

Steam train passing Fen Bog nature reserve


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