10 breath-taking UK destinations to enjoy a wonderful wildlife holiday

10 breath-taking UK destinations to enjoy a wonderful wildlife holiday

If you are a wildlife lover, the idea of a staycation as Britain continues to grapple with coronavirus may not be such a bad thing.

The UK offers an abundance of wildlife. From minke whales in Northumberland to dolphins in Cardigan Bay, there are plenty of wonderful sights and locations to be amazed by.

Read on to discover 10 top locations to escape to if you want to enjoy the country’s abundance of wildlife.

1. See the dancing cranes in Norfolk

Norfolk is home to a myriad of wildlife, from migrating birds to England’s largest grey seal colony. Its Hickling Broad reserve is well known for having cranes, a once common bird that now has a total population of around 160 in the UK.

The bird is famed for its spectacular dance during which it throws its head back, flaps its wings and fluffs out its tail feathers. It’s not the only spectacular sight in the county, as Norfolk also has the largest colony of grey seals in England located at Blakeney Point. Between November and January, grey seal pups are born with their snowy white fur coats and big black eyes.

2. Marvel at leatherback turtles and dolphins in Cardigan Bay

The bay is home to bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises and Atlantic grey dolphins together with minke whales and many different species of sea birds, as well as the huge leatherback turtles. Its Marine Wildlife Centre is a great place to see the other marine wildlife, such as seals and puffins.

There are boat trips for those eager to get a closer look at the wildlife or, for those wanting to take things a little easier, you could always enjoy Cardigan Bay’s wonderful beach.

3. Enjoy dramatic coastlines and wildlife on Exmoor

With its spectacular moorland, dramatic coastlines and oak woodlands, there is plenty for wildlife fans to see and do at Exmoor National Park. In fact, the area is so important that almost a third of it is protected under British and European law.

Species that call the moors home include majestic red deer, elusive otters and some of the UK’s rarest butterflies and bats. However, it’s the Exmoor ponies that most people associate with the area. While they are not strictly wild nowadays, the ponies still play an important role in keeping the moorlands in good condition.

4. Discover myriad wildlife in Inverness-shire

There is much to see and do in this part of the Scottish Highlands if you want to see some stunning wildlife. The region offers a wide variety of wild animals and birds, including red deer, black grouse, stunning golden eagles, and osprey, as well as red squirrels.

Venture into the Cairngorms National Park and you might be able to spot the elusive and iconic white stag, although if you’re looking for something that’s far easier to find visit Moray Firth to see the bottlenose dolphins.

5. See the minke whales in Northumberland

The county’s coastline has long been seen as a birdwatcher’s paradise, with species including internationally important seabirds. Northumberland has several bird colonies including the Farne Islands and Beadnell Bay, where thousands of birds descend to raise their young during spring and summer.

In addition to birds, there are grey seals and dolphins, as well as an increasing number of minke whale. Known to be inquisitive around boats, you may have a good chance of spotting the whale if you take a trip out to sea. Be warned though, their pungent breath means they live up to their nickname of “stinky minkes”.

6. Spot puffins on the coast of Northern Ireland

Along with mountain hares, peregrine falcons and Atlantic seals, there is plenty of spectacular wildlife to enjoy in Northern Ireland. No matter where you are, you’re always within 35 miles of the sea and its abundance of aquatic life, including Britain’s most colourful fish, the cuckoo wrasse.

There is also Giant’s Causeway, at which you may be able to spot basking sharks, grey seals, harbour dolphins and killer whales. If birdwatching is more your thing, you could see cormorants, gannets, puffins, and guillemots on the causeway.

7. See the endangered red squirrel on the Isle of Wight

Once a common sight in Britain, red squirrels have all but vanished after the American grey squirrel was introduced in the 1890s. As the Isle of Wight does not have any grey squirrels, there are around 3,500 of the endangered red squirrels on the island, which can be seen at the National Trust’s Borthwood Copse or Parkhurst Forest.

The island also has important wildflower areas, including the yellow birdsfoot trefoil at Compton Bay and green-winged orchids at Newtown. Every year 200 species of bird are recorded on the island attracted by its muddy creeks, ancient woodlands, and open downs, making it ideal for spotting peregrine falcons and nightjars.

8. Venture into Lincolnshire’s rich array of wildlife

Lincolnshire is home to a diverse range of wildlife species including emperor moths, green-winged orchids, bitterns, buzzards, and the iconic nightingale – a shy and elusive bird that can be heard singing at Whisby Nature Park.

It also has the highest density of barn owls in the UK and is still somewhere you can see water voles, as Lincolnshire remains a stronghold for the mammal following dramatic declines in numbers across the UK.

In addition to these, it’s home to rare bats and majestic birds and otters, making it an ideal location for wildlife lovers.

9. Enjoy the natural wonders of the Peak district

The Peak District has many species of wildlife, including wild red deer, making it one of Britain’s natural wonders. Indeed, the area supports 161 species identified as priorities for the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), as they are at risk of being lost from our countryside.

While there are plenty of different varieties for birdwatchers to spot, such as red grouse, owls, buzzards, woodpeckers and herons, there is also a rich selection of fauna to enjoy, including sphagnum mosses and bog asphodel.

In autumn, the Peak District hosts one of Britain’s most exciting wildlife spectacles, the rutting season for deer, when the stags fight over females.

10. Enjoy an adventure in one of Yorkshire’s three national parks

Lovers of wildlife are spoilt for choice in the county, thanks to its three national parks.

While we have already covered the Peak District National Park, there are a further two: the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. With its heather dominated landscape, the North York Moors National Park provides valuable habitat for rare species, including birds like the merlin, and the whinchat, as well as plants such as the sundew, juniper, and bog rosemary.

The Yorkshire Dales is no less significant or impressive, with 17 priority habitats including hay meadows, valley bottoms and grasslands. With more than 120 species which are considered national priorities for conservation action, including red squirrels, peregrine falcons and lady’s-slipper orchids, there is an abundance of wonderful sights and sounds to enjoy in Yorkshire’s national parks.

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