The Best Places for Wildlife Spotting in the UK
Christmas seems to come round faster every year. Have you started your shopping yet? If you’re trying to find a present for the wildlife fan in your life, you won’t go far wrong with our gifts for bird lovers. But if you really want to push the boat out this year, you could also treat them to a trip to one of these spectacular wildlife spotting destinations around the UK.
Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottingham
Named after the country’s favourite naturalist, the Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottingham is made up of a network of lakes and islets. It sits along the River Trent, just outside Nottingham city centre. Visitors should look out for kingfishers, bitterns, a variety of waterfowl and otters. There’s also a café, a shop and a discovery area within the reserve’s state-of-the-art, eco-friendly nature centre.
Insh Marshes, Scottish Highlands
The Insh Marshes are based across a floodplain so the landscape changes daily. It’s one of the most important wetlands in the whole of Europe, home to lapwings, curlews and redshanks. In summer, ospreys visit to go fishing and in winter, whooper swans take to the water.
Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
The tiny island of Skomer, located three miles off the Pembrokeshire coast, is packed full of exciting wildlife. It’s an important seabird breeding sight, home to storm petrels, razorbills, guillemots, Manx shearwaters and puffins. Grey seals, porpoises and dolphins can sometimes be spotted in the water. And, if you visit in May, you’ll find the whole island carpeted with bluebells.
Rutland Water, Rutland
The shallow lagoons of Rutland Water comprise one of the largest manmade lakes in Europe. The reserve’s 1,000 acres provide a home for more than 25,000 waterfowl. The site has also played an integral role in relaunching the UK’s osprey population through its Rutland Osprey Project. Beside ospreys, top species to spot here include spoon bills, badgers and water voles.
Exminster Marshes, Devon
Thousands of birds, including many wintering waders and wildfowl, call Exminster Marshes home. You can spot curlews, black-tailed godwits and brent geese as well as lapwings and redshanks. Rare dragonflies and otters may also be seen. Explore the site in style on a guided wildlife river cruise organised by the RSPB.
Any wildlife lover is sure to relish a visit to one of these wonderful nature reserves. Just remember to pack the binoculars and wear muted colours to make the most of your wildlife spotting expedition.
- Nikki Boxwild