Where To See Wildlife In The UK
From owls to otters, dolphins and basking sharks, here's our guide to what you can see and the best places to see wildlife in the UK.
Mon 11 Apr 2022
From puffins to basking sharks, otters, owls, seals and more, the UK is home to some of the most incredible wildlife right on our doorstep.
With the help of Lyme Bay Holidays, we’ve put together a quick guide to some of the native animal species you can see and where you can spot them around England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Bring patience, binoculars and a camera and remember to keep at a respectable distance.
These are wild animals in the UK so there’s no guarantee you’ll see them but we’ve highlighted seasons and times of day to give you the best chance.
Here’s where to see all the wildlife UK has to offer.
A new map for wildlife spotting in the UK
With wildlife spotting becoming increasingly popular in the UK, holiday cottage company Lyme Bay Holidays has created a handy map of wild animals you can see and where.
The map covers the coastal areas of Devon right up to the Shetland Islands with insights and tips to give you the best chance of sighting them.
Ben Matthews from Lyme Bay Holidays says, “The wildlife in the UK is incredible, and we’re lucky to be on the doorstep of some fantastic habitats.
“The marine life, along with birds and mammals on the south coast is fantastic. Bring a camera and settle down for an afternoon of wildlife spotting. Just remember to be respectful of the environment and the wild animals.”
What UK wildlife can you see and when?
Check out the best places to see wildlife in the UK.
1. Red squirrels
In January, head to Northumberland and look for some of Kielder Forest’s famous red squirrels. Around 50% of England’s population live here and they have their kits early in the year.
North Wales is home to a variety of owl species including barn owls, tawny owls, long-eared owls and little owls. Go at dawn or dusk in winter for the best chance of seeing and hearing them.
The start of spring is the best chance of catching a glimpse of fox cubs. Foxes have become very successful urban residents and they can be found in most towns and cities around the UK.
4. Basking sharks
From April to September, basking sharks can be spotted in Northern Ireland’s waters. The world’s second-largest fish can jump over a meter out of the water. Don’t worry, although big, they’re completely harmless to humans!
Head to Bempton Cliffs Nature Reserve on the Yorkshire coast to see nesting puffins from mid-April to mid-July. It’s also a haven for other seabirds including gannets and guillemots. Keep an eye out for barn owls too.
In the summer months, the Lake District in Cumbria is a lovely place to go butterfly spotting. Spot well-known species such as Peacocks and Red Admirals.
Keep a special eye out for Mountain Ringlets, the oldest butterfly species in the UK. The Lake District fells are the only place it’s found in England.
7. Shetland ponies
Look for wild Shetland ponies grazing in the Shetland Isles. Your best bet for spotting them is on the meadows of West Mainland, Scalloway, Tingwall, Dunrossness and the island of Unst.
8. Scottish wildcats
The elusive Scottish wildcats are tricky to spot. Your best chance is between dusk and dawn, around woodland clearings or grassland edges.
Between April and September, enjoy sightings of the Shetland Islands Orcas. They can be quite elusive too but there’s plenty of sea life to spot around the islands if they do give you the slip.
The Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of the Scottish west coast is home to both white tailed sea eagles and golden eagles.
Chicks tend to leave the nest in September but stay close by so October is a good time to spot them. Bring binoculars!
Cardigan Bay in Wales is home to one of two resident groups of bottlenose dolphins in the UK. In fact, this group is the largest in Europe with over 250 dolphins.
You can see them on regular boat trips departing from New Quay.
Between October and February, it’s pupping season for the seal colony of Blakeney Point in Norfolk. Visit in November for the chance to see young pups.
Visit the snowy Cairngorms in December and spot reindeer for the ultimate festive magic. Alternatively, the summer months of July and August are a great time to see them too.
Pembrokeshire is home to a healthy population of otters. Head to the National Trust property Stackpole and go for a wander along the Bosherston Lakes to catch a glimpse.
In the evening, keep an eye out for the largest colony of horseshoe bats in Wales.
Take it further...
- Do an animal watch in your own back garden
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- Get expert tips on wildlife photography