Head off with your camera across Britain with our shortlist of some of the best places to photograph extraordinary wildlife in the UK.
Farne Islands, Northumberland – The Farne Islands are home to well over 55 000 pairs of puffins as well as a great many other seabirds including; guillemots, fulmar, oystercatchers and cormorants. Boat trips can take you around the bird sanctuaries on the cliffs and to see the thriving grey seal population.
Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire – August is the time to visit the UK’s only mainland gannetry on Bempton Cliffs with tours from the RSPB running every Tuesday and Saturday. The area’s other exciting species to spot include a large puffin colony, short-eared owls, peregrines, skylarks, meadow pipits and porpoises out to sea.
Lundy Island – A controversial project from 2003-2004 to eradicate 40 000 rats from the Isle of Lundy was only part of a major operation to help boost puffin and manx shearwater numbers – the bird eggs were under threat from the rats. It is also England’s only statutory Marine Nature Reserve and now boasts a vast array of marine wildlife, seabirds, sea mammals (such as basking sharks and dolphins) and a permanent colony of 60-70 grey seals.
Gigrin Farm and Kite Feeding Station, Powys – One of the best places to see red kites as a result of its intensive rehabilitation programme after Wales became home to the last remaining red kites in the UK in the twentieth century. Careful safeguarding of this beautiful bird by generations of landowners, rural communities, individuals and organisations in this area of Mid-Wales has meant that there are now over 600 breeding pairs in Wales and they have been re-introduced to England and Scotland.
The Begwns, Powys – you can find golden plover, black and red grouse, peregrine falcons, red kites, buzzards and brown hares at this very quiet heath common which also has 360 º views to Hay Bluff and the Black mountains. Around the lake you can also see several species of dragonfly and damslefly.
Rathlin Island, County Antrim – Spring and Summer are the best times to visit to catch the wealth of seabirds that flock to Rathlin Island cliffs including fulmars, puffins razorbills and guillemots. Inland you can also find Irish hares and a variety of orchids.
Hartslock Reserve – The reserve has been made a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ on account of the amount of orchids that flower here. May and June are good times to visit for Monkey and Lady orchids and you will also see lots of butterflies including Green Hairstreak, Painted Lady, Heath and Common blues and Brimstones. Remember to keep to the marked routes to avoid treading on any orchids.
Cairngorms, eastern Scottish Highlands – At the Cairngorms National Park you can see an exciting amount and variety of wildlife in many different habitats. Try Lochnagar for red deer, see golden eagles around the Ladder Hills, ospreys and otters fishing at Muir of Dinnet, Loch Morlich for Britian’s only wild reindeer herd, the rare pine marten and badgers at night at Rothiemurcus, Craigellachie for peregrine falcons and red squirrels near the Mar Lodge estate.
Lyme Park, Cheshire – The brown hare has suffered a decline in population of 75% in the UK over the last 50 years but Lyme Park is still a great location to see them, visit in March to see the hares ‘box’ during mating season.
New Forest, Hampshire – Fallow deer, red deer, roe deer and sika deer are present in good numbers in the New Forest and are often conspicuous. The more shy muntjac also appear but not as readily. The deer are most likely to be seen early or late in the day in glades and secluded areas.
Brownsea Island, Dorset – The National Trust island is one of the best places to see and photograph the red squirrel which is almost extinct in the rest of southern England because of competing grey squirrel populations. The island’s squirrels are still shy however and it is best to try to spot them at sunrise and sunset during Spring and Autumn. Also look out for wild peacocks which roam the island.
Isles of Scilly – Around of the Isles of Scilly the warmer seawaters are home to marine mammals like dolphins and porpoises, grey seals and also basking sharks. Onshore, the island also has also a growing red squirrel population.
Hickling Broad and Holme Dunes, Norfolk – These two reserves are great places to see barn owls especially at dawn and dusk and sometimes on a fine day after a spell of bad weather you will see them hunting. The Norfolk coastline is a great location to see birds and other wildlife.
The Peak District, Derbyshire – With its range of different habitats the Peak District is a wildlife haven. Expect to see a vast range including red grouse (on the moorlands of Kinder Scout), mountain hares (at Derwent and Howden Edges), bats, merlins, hen harriers, three species of owl (Snowy, Little and Barn) and much more.
Isle of Mull, Scotland – This wild, beautiful island of the west of Scotland has very impressive bird populations including birds of prey and seabirds as well as being home to otters, red deer and seals. The golden eagle is one to look out for and Bird Safaris can also be arranged.
Northward Hill, Kent – Over 100 pairs of grey herons and 93 pairs of egrets roost in the trees of Northward Hill RSPB Reserve which overlooks the Thames marshes. There are many other marsh birds and birds of prey to be seen on the marshes as well.
Bramshill, Thames Basin, Hampshire – This designated Special Protection Area is home to lots of birdlife, plants and insects including 24 of the 38 species of damslefly and dragonfly found in the UK including the nationally rare Small Red damselfly and Brilliant Emerald dragonfly.
Sizergh Castle and Gardens – One of the National Trust’s top ten spots to see fritillary butterflies including the Pearl-bordered, Small Pearl-bordered, Dark-green and High Brown fritillaries. Other species of butterfly are also a prominent feature.
Main image: Getty