10 of the best - UK wildlife encounters
1 Seals: Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire
Home to one of Britain’s largest Atlantic grey seal breeding colonies, in spring and autumn up to 1,000 seals haul up Ramsey’s beaches to pup. Return boat trips go from St Justinians, where a 14-bed bungalow costs £1,475 per week to rent from Quality Cottages (www.qualitycottages.co.uk). www.ramseyisland.co.uk
2 Deer rutting: Exmoor, Devon
See the spectacle of Exmoor’s magnificent wild stags during the annual rutting season. HF Holidays’ new two-night deer rutting weekends, from October 14, include full-board accommodation at Holnicote Country House, travel to rutting sites, nature reserve entrance and National Trust guides, for £225pp. www.hfholidays.co.uk
3 Ospreys: Highlands of Scotland
Scotland is the stronghold of the osprey, a summer visitor which has seen increasing numbers since returning in 1954. Stay at the Bird Watching & Wildlife Club’s Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey and view them at the Loch Garten Osprey Centre, from late March to August/September. www.bwwc.co.uk
4 Red squirrels: Isle of Wight/Durham
See resident red squirrels on a Wildlife Safari walk around the Isle of Wight’s Alverstone Mead nature reserve, near Sandown – one of the walks highlighted in ferry company Wightlink’s free Wight Safaris guide (www.wightlink.co.uk/wightsafaris). Also view them at Durham’s Killhope lead mining museum. www.killhope.org.uk
5 Otters: Isle of Eriska, Argyll
Otters are notoriously elusive, but stay in the 23-room hotel on the tiny, private Isle of Eriska, near Oban, and you stand a good chance of seeing them as they are resident year-round. Other wildlife include sea eagles, deer and seals. Marked trails have information boards. www.prideofbritainhotels.com
6 Wildlife safari: Port Lympne, Kent
Go on safari with Port Lympne Wild Animal Park’s African Experience and view giraffe, black rhino, wildebeest, zebra, ostrich, antelope and other wildlife roaming free. Feel even more like you are in Africa by staying overnight in the new Livingstone Safari Lodge. www.aspinallfoundation.org/portlympne
7 Puffins: Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire
Some 6,000 pairs of the charming “Pembrokeshire Parrots” breed on the island from mid-March to July each year. Skomer is also home to the world’s largest colony of Manx shearwaters. Arrive early to catch the boat (April to October) – there is a daily quota for landing visitors. www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer
8 Bitterns: Nottinghamshire
Just 87 males of this rare overwintering visitor were recorded in the UK last spring, seven of them at Attenburgh Nature Reserve. The shy, secretive heron species, known for its deep booming call, can be seen in the reserve’s reedbeds from a hide from November to January. www.attenboroughnaturecentre.co.uk
9 Red kites: Powys
The red kite is one of the nature’s success stories, having recovered from near extinction in the UK. Kites are fed daily throughout the year at Gigrin Farm, near Rhayader, attracting up to 600 birds. View from five hides. Rent its Red Kite Cottage from £300 per week. www.gigrin.co.uk
10 Dolphins: Moray Firth
Chanonry Point offers one of the best viewing opportunities in the UK for bottlenose dolphins. The playful mammals come right up close to the shore on incoming tides and can be seen year-round. Boat trips also operate from Inverness. Base yourself at Grantown’s Grant Arms Hotel. www.bwwc.co.uk
Do you agree with our choices? Or do you have any suggestions for other UK wildlife experiences? Let us know by responding on our Facebook page, or by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a picture of the UK wildlife experience in question, you can also send it to us.
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1234.jpg – Deer rutting, Exmoor.
1235.jpg – Otters, Eriska.
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