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There is no need for you to go out of the country for a wildlife adventure. There are plenty of spots in Britain to experience the wildlife and to come up close and personal with animals in their natural environment. So, where do you go for wildlife tours in the UK? Below are some of places you could check out.
Going on a wildlife tour in the UK should not be difficult given the large number of nature reserves here. The probability is high that there’s one near your area; hence, you do not have to travel far to see wildlife. Managed by organisations championing conservation, these reserves offer guided tours.
The Attenborough Nature Reserve is popular for its birds. Awarded as one of the top eco-destinations in the world, this nature reserve’s diverse avian population includes warblers, terns, waterfowls and kingfishers. During winter, the bittern, a threatened UK bird species, is sometimes spotted here. There are also insects like butterflies and dragonflies and mammals such as badgers, bats and even otters.
For more birds, especially the red kites, visit Gigrin Farm in mid Wales. This place is a feeding site for these raptors; hence, it is not unusual to see hundreds of them all at once. Feeding time is scheduled at 2 P.M. Other birds found in the area are herons, wild ducks and wagtails. Meanwhile, nearby Gilfach Farms is another bird paradise with around 70 species of them – red kite, pied flycatcher, buzzard, yellowhammer, raven, etc. Gilfach farm is also known for its badgers and even offers badger-watching sessions.
British Islands And Coasts
Mention “whale or dolphin watching” and not a lot would think of the UK as a venue for this activity. What many people are forgetting is that Britain is an island nation and its waters are rich in wildlife species.
For example, Lundy Island, the only Marine Conservation Zone in the country, features a diverse population of sea animals like harbour porpoises, seals, basking sharks and bottlenose dolphins. The island, which is a remnant of a volcano, has beautiful corals and cuckoo wrasse, too. Found in the coast of Devon, this marine nature reserve is also the home of South England’s largest seabird colony.
Anglesey is a popular place for watching grey seals. Other marine mammals you would see in this island located north-west of Wales are dolphins and harbour porpoises. Meanwhile, it’s skyline often features a diverse population of seabirds like gannets and red-billed chough. Go to Point Lynas, an active lighthouse in Anglesey, for a better view of the grey seals, dolphins and other marine wildlife.
For puffins and other seabirds, Northumberland’s The Farnes is the place to be. Meanwhile, the endangered red squirrels are found in Brownsea Island, the largest island in Poole Harbour in Dorset. Skomer Island along Pembrokeshire Coast is an important seabird breeding site in Europe. Apart from seabirds like manx shearwaters, guillemots, razorbills and puffins (which the island is most famous for), you can also find peregrine falcons and rabbits in the area. The Skomer vole, a mouse-like rodent, is endemic to the island.
If you want to encounter dolphins at a closer view, you can take boat tours on Cardigan Bay in Wales. Another place to go for dolphin-watching boat rides is Moray Firth in Scotland.
National And Royal Parks
Aside from nature reserves, parks are highly accessible places for wildlife watching activities. Currently, there are 15 National Parks and 8 Royal Parks in the UK.
The newest National Park is the South Downs National Park in West Sussex. It has a rich wildlife population with insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals. The most common insect here is the butterfly, including the adonis blue butterfly (with males donning a striking, electric blue colour). During the months of March to July, the nightjar, a nocturnal bird, visits and nests in the park. The park also prides itself as the only place in the UK where all native amphibians and reptiles are found like the adder and sand lizards.
Cairngorms is the UK’s biggest national park with a land area of 3,800 square kilometres. Located in Scotland, this expansive park features breath-taking landscapes – a combination of glens, rivers, arctic mountain and moors among others. On the mountains and moorlands, you would find a quarter of UK’s threatened species like the capercaillie, huge woodland grouse, and the Scottish wildcat, Britain’s last remaining native cat species. However, you may need experts with you since spotting these animals can be very difficult. Cairngorms also features the golden eagles, Scottish crossbill, ospreys, otters and pine martens.
If you wish to see the UK’s largest butterfly, go to The Broads in Norfolk. This national park, the largest protected wetland in Britain, is home to 25% of the rarest wildlife in Britain. Here you will also find the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly and the elusive bittern. The Broads also has an abundance of birds, from wigeons to sedge warblers.
Meanwhile, Bushy and Richmond Parks are perfect for city-dwellers looking for quick wildlife adventures. The second largest Royal Park, Bushy Park has water voles, hedgehogs, waterfowls and woodpeckers. On the other hand, Richmond Park, also a Natural Nature Reserve, is well-known for its herd of 600 red and fallow deer. Moreover, its thousands of trees serve as habitats for around 11 species of bats.
Red Kites At Gigrin Farm
Image Attribution: IBy Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) (Red Kites – Gigrin Farm) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARed_Kites_-_Gigrin_Farm_(10377678735).jpg
Point Lynas Lighthouse At Anglesey
Image Attribution: Ian Warburton [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Resource: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APoint_Lynas_Lighthouse_-_geograph.org.uk_-_79151.jpg
Cairngorms National Park