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Apart from spring, summer is another opportune season for outdoor pursuits, big and small. Moreover, since children have no school, it’s a perfect time to explore wildlife with the little ones.
So, what are the summer wildlife activities in the UK worth trying? Below are some of the adventures you can embark on this season.
Watch Seals and Dolphins
Summer is undeniably the best time to enjoy the sea and discover its rich wildlife. Apart from swimming and snorkeling, a popular activity during this season is watching seals and dolphins.
Cardigan Bay in Wales is one of the two places in the UK known to have a resident dolphin pod. Experts say that around 300 bottlenose dolphins are found in this area. Cardigan Bay’s dolphin pod is said to be the biggest in the country. New Quay in Ceridigion is one of the highly recommended places for seeing these bottlenoses. Daily sightings of these creatures have been reported during the summer months.
Cardigan Bay is replete with other wildlife during summer. Aside from dolphins, turtles, whales and sharks are spotted in these waters. Atlantic grey seals are also present in this area during this season. Although they can be seen all year round, seals become more visible in summer because they haul out and bask in the sun. Be ready to spot a few of them sunbathing during these months.
You can opt to watch these mammals from the shore. Alternatively, you can join water safaris, too. During summer, boat trips abound in different parts of the UK. If you wish to experience marine mammals up close, you cannot miss these activities.
Search for Bats
For something unusual yet exciting, why not venture into the night and search for bats? These creatures are found in various places in the country, be it the countryside or cities. Summer is the best time to see bats as they come out of hibernation during this season. Furthermore, they start forming maternity colonies, as summer is the time when they give birth.
Pups, what baby bats are called, are usually born in June. Female bats become busy caring for them as the little ones rely on their mothers for milk. By August, young bats venture on their own and start searching for their own food. Indeed, summer is an eventful season for these nocturnal creatures!
The best time to spot these flying mammals is around sunset. Some tour companies offer bat walks or nocturnal wildlife trips. Apart from being led by experts, these tours provide equipment like bat detectors which can make the activity even more exciting.
Experience the Seabird Spectacle
It is no secret that the UK is home to numerous seabird colonies. In fact, aside from watching marine animals, visiting seabird colonies is also a popular summer wildlife activity.
Every summer, these feathery creatures head to our cliffs and rocky islands to breed. According to experts, around 8 million seabirds breed in the country. These are composed of 25 species such as razorbills, guillemots, kittiwakes, shags, gannets and fulmars. Of course, the highly popular and very colourful puffins are also included in the list.
This adventure is going to a be feast for the senses. Your eyes are going to be treated to sights of thousands of birds in one place, staying put on their spots and flying back and forth to their nests. You’d also hear a hodgepodge of sounds, from the flapping of wings to the cries of chicks and the yells of other seabirds. Then, there is the unignorable smell of guano filling the air. With these, a trip to any of the seabird cities in the UK is definitely going to be memorable.
Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire is the largest breeding colony of Manx shearwaters in the world, with over 100,000 breeding pairs. To spot the clowns of the sea or puffins, head to Lundy Island which is also popularly called ‘puffin island’. Lastly, Bass Rock in Scotland is home to the biggest gannet colony in the world. It is also a breeding spot for other seabirds like shags, razorbills and guillemots.
Go on a Fawn Walk
Deer watching is an activity that is done all year round. However, during summer, deer watchers are treated to a different sight. Apart from deer changing into their thinner summer coats, stags and bucks are also starting to grow new antlers. Furthermore, summer is the time when UK deer give birth. Hinds and does give birth around June. So, when you go on a deer walk in summer, expect to see fawns.
Although they are able to walk hours after being born, fawns rely on their mothers for food. This is because they need milk for at least 10 weeks. It is not unusual to see fawns alone in brackens or concealed areas. Does leave them in these places as they search for food and eat. The mothers return to their offspring to feed them, usually at dawn or dusk. Sometimes, aside from feeding, they move the fawns to a different location.
Does identify their offspring through their scent. This is why it is important for people not to touch the fawns so as not to add an unfamiliar smell. When mothers are unable to recognise the scent, they abandon the fawn, thereby rendering the latter orphan. Keep this in mind when you go on a fawn walk.
There are numerous parks and estates which manage different species of deer. Some of them even offer fawn walks for guests. If you wish to see fallow deer in all four colours as well as their fawns, Dunham Massey is the place to be.
Grey seal photo by timparkinson
Brown long-eared bat photo by Veljo Runnel
Seabird colony at Bass Rock photo by Karen Roe
Fallow deer photo by ahisgett