Autumn witnesses a unique wildlife spectacle on the Somerset Levels (pictured above) – huge flocks of starlings whirl around in clusters, covering the entire sky as they assemble and scatter in intricate patterns. Other migratory birds from northern and eastern Europe often join the starlings before they head for their nighttime perch. Head out at dusk to Westhay Moor, Ham Wall or Shapwick to view this magnificent natural phenomenon.
One of Britain’s best-loved animals, the Eurasian Otter is a delight to spot in the wild, diving for fish or playing with their cubs. The remote wilds of the Shetland Islands in Scotland, home to 12% of the UK’s population of the animals, are the perfect place to go otter-spotting – Shetland Otters can take you on guided day tours along the coastline to spy them in their natural habitat.
The expansive grasslands of Chillingham Castle in Northumberland are home to a wildlife marvel – a herd of wild cattle that can trace their heritage back to prehistoric breeds. These beasts have been grazing and wandering in Chillingham forests for the past 700 years, untouched and untamed. They provide an interesting insight into the world of ancestral wild cattle breeds. The wardens of the castle can escort you on walks to view these beautiful beasts, which, their numbers have now dwindled to 100, are some of the rarest animals on the planet.
Securing its place as one of the fastest members of the animal kingdom, the Peregine falcon’s flight often exceeds 200 mph. Catch a glimpse of them when they’re not on the wing in Cornwall – Falmouth is home to nesting pairs of these stunning birds – head out on a sea safari to spot them in their sea cliff homes.
Cardigan Bay in Wales is a dolphin-lover’s haven – home to the UK’s biggest pod of the creatures, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises can both be spotted chasing fish here when the sea is calmer. Head to New Quay in the summer months to glimpse a fin or two in the water.
Sleek grey seals abound in the warm waters off the beautiful Isles of Scilly, and can often be seen from the ferries that scuttle to and fro on the archipelago. To get up closer, Scilly Seal Snorkelling, based on St Martin’s, will take you out to a secret favourite spot of these beautiful, mild-mannered mammals. Don your snorkel and fins and you can get up close to them in the water – a magical experience, especially when the friendly younger seals come over to nibble inquisitively on your flippers.