What I saw at Potteric Carr Nature Reserve

I’ve been to Potteric Carr once before, a while back, so I decided to go again this week. The weather was pretty good, overcast with sunny spells, although a bit too windy for bird photography for my liking. 

Potteric Carr nature reserve in Doncaster

Where is Potteric Carr?

You will find Potteric Carr Nature Reserve just off the M18 in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. One of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s flagship reserves and one of the largest, it covers over 580 acres (235 hectares).

Potteric Carr has around 5 miles (8 km) of paths, some of which are accessible to wheelchair users, 13 viewing hides, a visitor centre with a shop and toilets and a cafe where local produce is used whenever possible.

The reserve is free to visit for members of Wildlife Trusts, check the Potteric Carr’s website for non-members fees and other information.

Hedge tree tunnel


Potteric Carr is popular with bird watchers and wildlife photographers but also with kids and families and people who just like to be close to nature.

Along with the usual water birds, the reserve is known for breeding bitterns and marsh harriers. You can also see black-necked grebes, little ring plovers, avocets, green sandpipers, little egrets, teals and willow tits. If you are lucky you might also see a kingfisher

Spring and autumn are exciting times as a wide range of migratory birds can arrive at any time and the reserve is a hot spot for witnessing spectacular starling murmurations which I am yet to see. Hopefully this year. 

Potteric Carr Nature Reserve


Path at Potteric Carr Nature Reserve in Doncaster

What I saw on my visit

The reserve is full of wildlife and nature. Over 230 species of birds have been recorded at the site with over 65 species breeding there each year.


I took some photos of some Mute swans bathing in the sunlight. I like them for their elegance. 

pair of mute swans at potteric car nature reserve in doncaster


landing swan

Some grey geese in flight. 

Suddenly a heron appeared. 

heron in flight


heron in reeds

Some lapwings which were still a bit far for my lens. We also saw a Marsh Harrier but I didn’t manage to get it on a camera. 


But it is not only about birds at the Potteric Carr. Sometimes people get disappointed not to see many birds due to the time of the day or weather conditions, but if you open your eyes and look around you can find other pretty things too. For example plants. 

The reserve is well known for Purple-loosestrife, Coltsfoot and Southern marsh orchids, Common spotted and Bee orchids as well as the Old man’s beard, Britain’s only wild clematis. 


I always look for some interesting subject to photograph be it a texture or a patter for example. This Wild Teasel caught my eye. 

Or a Late Michaelmas-daisy, a species of Asters. 

It must have been the season for New York Aster, another species of Asters. Apparently also known as Confused Michaelmas daisy. They were everywhere and added a nice purple and yellow colour to the autumn turning reserve. 

I also liked the White poplar, a species of Cottonwood also known as Silver poplar swaying and glittering in the distance. It looked like the leaves were made of an aluminium foil. 🙂

White Poplar tree at Potteric Car nature reserve


Insects and Invertebrates

The nature reserve is an excellent place for bug hunting with its impressive list of spiders, moths, beetles and hoverflies. Purple hairstreak and brown argus are among 28 species of butterfly to have been seen here, with an impressive 21 species of dragonfly noted!

ladybird on a leave in Potteric carr nature reserve


European Peacock butterfly in Potteric Carr nature reserve

European Peacock Butterfly

Given we are already in October we have seen lots of Common Darter dragonflies and if you reach out they will land on your hand. 

Dragonfly on a palm of a hand


mating dragonflies in the Potteric Carr nature reserve


Lastly, let’s not forget about the water shrews, harvest mice and even Roe Deer that you can come across at Potteric Carr. Not to mention the beautiful Highland Cattle. We only saw cows, sheep and even some lamas grazing on fields while visiting. 🙂

brown domestic cow at Potteric carr nature reserve


grazing white llama at potteric carr nature reserve at doncaster

And just because it is autumn, it wouldn’t be a walk without seeing a fungi or fly agaric. 🙂

fly agaric mushroom

You know I love trees. Here is another one to add to my collection. 

tree in the potteric carr nature reserve

Finishing the walk, a pheasant scared me as he appeared next to me all of a sudden. That was just after my friend saw a stoat but sadly didn’t manage to take a photo of. And yes, the crow was intently watching us having our lunch on the cafe’s terrace!

Final thoughts on Potteric Carr Nature Reserve

It was a wonderful day. I loved watching nature go by as well as seeing the reeds and grasses blowing in the wind.  It’s a shame you can still hear the motorway while walking through the reserve but that is only when you are not distracted by all the amazing creatures that Potteric Carr has to offer. 

We still walked 4.5 miles around so, in terms of exercise, job well done. 🙂 I will definitely be back, perhaps for those starlings murmurations! 

reeds and grasses

a couple walking through silver birch trees in potteric carr nature reserve in doncaster

Have you been to Potteric Carr Nature Reserve?

Please let me know what you saw in the comments below 🙂


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What I saw at Potteric Carr Nature Reserve