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We are delighted to announce that back issues of our journal, The Naturalist, dating back to 1864 are now freely available to view and download from the Biodiversity Heritage Library.  Several institutions, including Smithsonian Libraries, Natural History Museum London and the American Museum of Natural History undertook the work of scanning the journals to produce very high quality PDF files with optical character recognition to enable the journals to be searched for key words or species names.  We are very grateful indeed for the Biodiversity Heritage Library's support in making this valuable resource available to a wider audience.  Please follow this link to access the digital copies of the journals.  A full back catalogue of printed journals is also available in the YNU Library in York.

(31st August 2016)
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The YNU is delighted to welcome three new county recorders!

Andy Jowett from Otley is taking on the role of Bird Recorder for West Yorkshire, where the position was formerly vacant.  Andy can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Peter Nicholson, already the YNU recorder for Isopoda, Myriapoda and Pseudoscorpiones, is taking over the role of YNU recorder for harvestmen (Opiliones) from Richard Wilson.  Peter is also the national recorder for harvestmen for the British Arachnological Society.  Richard will continue to be the YNU recorder for spiders.  

Peter said: "I have always been interested in natural history, at first it was birds and pond life. I joined the YNU in my late teens and have been a member ever since. I have though not always lived in Yorkshire, I spent just short of 20 years in Norfolk as a Civil Engineer with the railways. I retired back to Yorkshire 4 years ago and live in Malton. I am a member of most national and local wildlife societies/groups. I am a Council Member and National Recorder for Harvestmen for the British Arachnological Society (BAS).  I am also a long term member and retired committee member of the British Myriapod and Isopod Group. I was also BAS Spider and Harvestmen County Recorder for Norfolk and also for the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalist Society of which I am still recorder for Harvestmen. For those with long memories I was also a member and Vice Chairman of the York and District Field Naturalist Society now long defunct. Among the members was Clifford Smith who will be remembered by some as the arachnologist who published an atlas of Yorkshire spiders. It was Clifford Smith to whom I sent my first spiders to be verified. These specimens came from Moorlands Nature Reserve near Wigginton, where I was undertaking a project on soil invertebrates with the University of London for an Extra Mural Certificate in Field Biology. I also have a Natural Sciences Degree with the OU and a Post–Experience Certificate in Biological Recording and Species Identification with Birmingham University and for part of this I was tutored by Paul Lee. I would like to thank Paul Lee for proposing me to take over his position as Recorder of ‘Isopoda, Myriapoda and Pseudoscorpiones’ for the YNU."

Linda Robinson is taking over the role of YNU plant recorder for v.c.65 from Kevin Walker.  Linda told us: "I worked for the Nature Conservancy at Moor House Field Station, above Alston on the Northern Pennines at the top end of Teesdale from 1967 to 1977 as a Botanical Assistant and was involved in research into the effects of grazing on different vegetation types on the northern Pennines, I was also involved in surveying and setting up of SSSI's in the North of England with my boss, the late Michael Rawes.  In the latter half of the 1970's I became involved in recording for the Cumbria Flora under Geoffrey Halliday.  I married in 1976 and left the Nature Conservancy (now Natural England) after the birth of my first child.  I still kept a voluntary interest in recording for the Cumbria Flora and did occasional free-lance work for the Wildlife Trust and Natural England.  As a long-term BSBI member I was asked in 2007 whether I would be interested in being v.c. 65 (North West Yorkshire) Recorder when Deborah Millward retired, a chance I jumped at because I had often botanised in the northern end of the County and knew what an interesting area it was.   Check out the North West Yorkshire Botany Facebook group and the North West Yorkshire BSBI website, they give an idea of the work being carried out in v.c.65."

YNU recorders are volunteers responsible for verifying and collating records from members and passing them to the relevant national recording schemes and local environmental records centres, to ensure they are used to inform biodiversity conservation at a national and local level.

(20th February 2016)


Several YNU members reported seeing beautiful 'mother of pearl' clouds over various parts of Yorkshire on the 1st and 2nd February.  These nacreous clouds are a rare phenomenon, formed in the lower stratosphere at around 70,000 feet at temperatures of around -78C.   The iridescent colours are caused by ice crystals refracting the sun's rays.  Although beautiful, these clouds are actually damaging to the ozone layer as they catalyse reactions between ozone and chlorine which has been introduced into the atmosphere by substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Thanks to YNU members Barry Warrington and Phil Lightfoot for providing photographs.

(13th February 2016)

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The Yorkshire Naturalists' Union is now on Twitter!  Follow @ynuorg for news about YNU events and natural history in Yorkshire.  

Did you know you can also join the YNU Facebook group to chat with other members about wildlife sightings, upcoming natural history events and local biodiversity conservation.  There is also a YNU Flickr group where you can share your photos of Yorkshire's wonderful wildlife and habitats, as well as photos of people enjoying and recording them.


Bill Ely received the award of Honorary Membership of the NBN Trust at the NBN Conference in York on Friday 20th November, having been nominated by the National Forum for Biological Recording. The award was presented by the NBN Trust Chairman Professor Michael Hassell, who congratulated Bill on his significant contribution to biological recording.  Bill has been Chairman of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union Executive and is currently a member of the Editorial Board of our journal the Naturalist and is Chairman of the Entomological Section and Recorder for parasitic Hymenoptera.  Bill was also involved in the National Forum (then Federation) for Biological Recording from its inception in 1986 and chaired the NFBR for many years.  Bill started the Rotherham Biological Records Centre which has submitted over 1.6 Million records to the NBN from 11,650 taxa, and it is thanks to his dedication and enthusiasm that one 10km square within the Rotherham LRC area has the most records (ca 849,000) of any 10km square in the UK, despite this square containing no nationally important nature reserves and being highly urban.

Bill is the second YNU member to become an Honorary Member of the NBN Trust, as former YNU Secretary and President John Newbould received this award in 2013.

Bill Ely receiving his award from NBN Trust Chairman Michael Hassell.  Photo credit: Paul Shields.