Five of the best spots for urban wildlife in the UK
Live in an urban sprawl and miss your daily dose of wildlife? Writer and city dweller Matt Evans picks some of the best nature spots within easy reach of our cities
Even if you live in an urban area there are plenty of opportunities to discover wildlife - often just a stone's throw from your front door. We take a look at some of the best urban wildlife hotspots in Britain
When it comes to wildlife, London is perhaps most famous for Richmond Park and its herds of red deer. Spring is the perfect time of year to visit as stags begin to test their new-season antlers against each other. But plenty of other, lesser-known green spaces are accessible within a tube-ride, such as South London’s Morden Hall Park. Home to acres of protected wetland, it’s the perfect feeding ground for kingfishers, Little Egret and London’s most high-profile invasive species, flocks of wild parakeets. In the city, birds of prey have been used to control feral pigeons and have set up nests in historic buildings such as the Tate Modern or Barbican.
While Scotland is famous for its wildlife, as much can be found near the cities as there can in the Highlands. Glasgow, for example, is home to the very central Kelvingrove park, about 85 acres in size and home to a variety of wildlife. Heron, cormorant and dippers can be found taking advantage of the river Kelvin, while the eagle-eyed (or early rising) observer might catch sight of an otter.
Voted by BBC Wildlife Magazine as the best city for urban wildlife in the UK, it’s easy to see why. The obvious place to spot wildlife in Bristol is the sumptuous Avon Gorge, as observers can park up on the downs and view nesting peregrines on the other side. However, even in the inner city, foxes, house martins and peregrines can be found on Bristol’s floating harbourside and on green spaces such as Brandon Hill. Heading to North Bristol, Snuff Mills and the Frome Valley are rich in wildlife - if you're very lucky you might even spot a kingfisher,
Leeds is one city most wouldn’t associate with urban wildlife, but pockets of urban wildlife flourish in the Rodley Nature Reserve. The Reserve is a unique location, close to the city centre and an absolute haven for wetland wildlife. This time of year, the reserve is abundant in amphibians like the smooth newt and less common birdlife such as grasshopper warblers. Lucky spotters might also glimpse little owls and the last of this year’s snipe, who frequent the reserve in winter.
Belfast’s biggest attraction for wildlife lovers is the presence of red squirrels. The Stormont Parliament Building Estate is home to a colony of reds, as is Colin Glen forest park a short drive from the city centre. Closer to the hustle and bustle, Bog Meadows is described as “an urban oasis”, home to American mink, swallows, mute swans, salmon and pike, among others.
With thanks to Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project and Dr Catherine Scott, LEAF Co-ordinator