Would Be Traveller
United Kingdom Wildlife

Where to spot wildlife in the UK

If you’re a wildlife lover, you might think the only destinations worth visiting for your animal fix are African National Parks, South American jungles or Asian rainforests. Well, lucky for you, your bank balance AND your carbon footprint, there are some fantastic places to spot wildlife in the UK.

Of course, seeing any animal in the wild demands a certain amount of luck, patience and knowing where to look, so let me tell you where to start…

>> Are you a wildlife lover too? Read my top tips on how to improve your wildlife photography to make every encounter one to remember!

The Best Places to Spot Wildlife in the UK

The Cornish Coastline

Aside from being one of the driest and sunniest areas in the the UK, Cornwall is one of the best places in the world to see dolphins, porpoises and possibly even whales. Much of this is down to the sheer amount of beautiful coastline – the county is surrounded by hundreds of miles of the stuff – so you’re never far from a potential sighting.

Would Be Traveller Dolphins in Cornwall

It’s difficult to predict the best time of year to see dolphins in the UK. They’re not exactly rooted to the spot for your viewing pleasure! Try your luck on a clear day when visibility out to sea is high. That means that a day between June and September is a good bet. There are some companies that offer dolphin watching cruises out to sea, but I prefer simply sitting on the coast with my eyes peeled. Just make sure you take your binoculars with you!

Richmond Park

Just a few miles outside of central London is a surprisingly good place to see wildlife in the UK. Richmond Park is best known for the Red and Fallow deer that have called it home since the 1600s, when they were introduced by King Charles I.

The deer are easy to spot all year round, but if you’re particularly interested in seeing foals, I’d recommend going in the early Autumn so the babies won’t be hidden from view by their protective mothers. Autumn is also breeding season for the deer, so don’t be surprised if you see male stags and bucks competing for the females.

Would Be Traveller Deer in Richmond Park

They’re very used to humans walking through the park, but please don’t take advantage of this. They’re still wild animals and should be treated as such! Keep a safe distance, as much for the deer’s safety as yours, and please don’t feed them.

Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire in Wales

Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire is one of the best places in the UK to see seals and sea birds, including my favourite, puffins! There’s nothing better than simply sitting by the cliffs on Skomer Island and watching as the birds fly out to sea in search of food, and return with their beaks filled with goodies.

Would Be Traveller Puffins in the UK

Boats to Skomer Island run during good weather, so keep an eye on their Twitter feed so you don’t waste a journey. Ferry tickets are sold on a first-come-first-served basis, so make sure you arrive early and bring cash with you (at least £22 per adult). In the peak season between May and July, people will arrive as early as 6am to buy tickets! The facilities on the island are very limited indeed, so it’s a good idea to bring your own snacks and drinks to keep you going for your trip. Just please remember to take it all home with you afterwards 😉

The Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads National Park is a 125 mile network of rivers and lakes, making it a fascinating habitat for birds and aquatic wildlife in the UK. Lucky visitors could spot osprey, terns, swallowtails and even otters on a walk, cycle or boat trip through the park. Being so big, it’s certainly not a place you could or would even want to visit in a day, so make sure you plan well in advance!

Would Be Traveller Otters in UK

Ranworth Broad (20 minutes north of Norwich) is perhaps your best chance of seeing otters. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust runs guided boat trips across the broad, meaning you could even see otters in the water! The best time to go is either spring or summer. Remember that otters are nocturnal, so I’d recommend visiting as soon as the reserve opens at dawn or just before it closes at dusk.

Farne Islands, Northumberland

There are lots of beautiful places to visit in Northumberland. And as David Attenborough’s favourite place to spot wildlife in the UK, the Farne Islands absolutely deserve to be on my list! The islands off the coast of Northumberland are home to thousands of grey seals, with hundreds more born every year. As well as one of the largest seal colonies in the UK, it’s also where 150,000 birds call home, including puffins, Arctic terns, guillemots and more.

Would Be Traveller Seals in UK

To see the seals in all their glory, a cruise is a must. While some cruises allow visitors to land on the islands, you will still have plenty of opportunity to spot wildlife on the journey if you keep your eyes peeled. The main cruise company for the islands, Billy Shiel’s Boats, recommend taking a trip later in the afternoon to avoid big crowds of tourists, and I wholeheartedly agree!

>> For another place to see seals in the UK, check our Becky the Traveller’s guide to seeing seals in Lincolnshire!

Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands are filled to the brim with wildlife just waiting for you to discover, including the famous Highland Cows! But while you’re there, you might also be lucky enough to see dolphins off the coast, eagles and falcons in the sky, red deer frolicking across the hills, red squirrels up in the trees, otters by the water as well as seals and puffins along the rocky shoreline. Oh, and also a certain monster in Loch Ness if you’re very lucky…

Would Be Traveller Highland Cows

Due to the sheer amount of wildlife living in the Highlands, this is one place you’re almost guaranteed a sighting of something no matter when you go. The Highlands can get very busy during the summer, from June to August, but it might be worth it to experience long, sunny days. Visiting in spring and summer also gives you a good chance of puffins, whales, eagles, red kites and otters.

Your garden!

Of course it’s wonderful to explore everywhere the UK has to offer, but why not start in your very own back garden? There’s plenty to find when you look hard enough – perhaps you’ll spot birds, bees, squirrels, hedgehogs or frogs? We’ve had each of these in our back garden in the last year alone!

Would Be Traveller Wildlife in Garden

If you’d like help identifying the birds you spot, I can personally vouch for the RSPB Pocket Birds of Britain and Europe book to help. Using this book, we were able to identify a fledgling blackbird in our back garden and help save it from predators when it became separated from its parents!

Check the latest prices on Amazon now!

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Before you book your next wildlife trip, consider looking a little closer to home first, Though the UK is small, there’s plenty of wildlife to keep locals and visitors satisfied.

What’s your favourite place to spot wildlife in the UK? I’d love to read your recommendations in the comments!

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Would Be Traveller Where to spot wildlife in the UK

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    aFabulousTrip
    19th June 2018 at 11:12 am

    It’s so nice to still be able to witness wildlife in nature !

  • Reply
    Sage Scott
    21st June 2018 at 1:10 pm

    These are such great photos! I’d really love the chance to spend more time in the UK outside of London. W-A-Y outside of London. Especially if I can see these beautiful creatures in their natural environment!

  • Reply
    Kate - Travel for Difference
    23rd June 2018 at 9:10 am

    I looooove this so much 😍 Searching for wildlife is my ultimate fave thing to do, and I think the UK is very underrated in terms of animal spotting! So many beautiful creatures ❤️

  • Reply
    Ameeta
    23rd June 2018 at 10:02 am

    I had no idea you could watch the dolphins in Cornwall. I had recently been on a whale and dolphin watching tour in the Azores and absolutely loved the experience of seeing them in the wild. Such elegant and playful creatures! Looking forward to seeing more wildlife in the UK, should probably start with something closer to home like the Richmond Park 🙂

  • Reply
    leanne
    23rd June 2018 at 1:08 pm

    This article was a great reminder not to limit my wildlife photography to oevrseas travel only!

  • Reply
    Melanie Schaffer
    23rd June 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Wow those shots are beautiful!! I would really like to go see puffins!

  • Reply
    Caroline
    23rd June 2018 at 3:12 pm

    It is amazing how much wildlife you can spot in the UK if you know where to go… Couple of weeks ago my bf had some blue tits in his garden and they were lovely to watch! Was in Farnes last week seeing the seals and puffins and it was magical! I’d definitely like to see the wildlife up in the highlands and the coastline. I’ll get there one day, thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply
    Kathleen
    23rd June 2018 at 6:27 pm

    So many great animals to see in the UK which most people don’t think about. Skomer is amazing!!

  • Reply
    Tasha
    23rd June 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Wow I love this post so much! I’m obsessed with wildlife and live in the UK so it’s the perfect post for me. I didn’t know about David Attenborough’s favourite place to spot wildlife so it’s now jumped to the top of my list! Would love to see a puffin one day too.

  • Reply
    Daniela Frendo
    23rd June 2018 at 10:29 pm

    I live in Edinburgh and I often spot deer while travelling through the Highlands by train. Once I also spotted a seal in Dundee while the tide was out!

  • Reply
    Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists
    23rd June 2018 at 10:48 pm

    Hmm this is such an interesting post! For some reason, I think of the UK as more of a city-filled place (although that’s probably due to the fact that most of my time in the UK has been in London). What a cool post idea though. I guess I need to go find some animals the next time I’m on that side of the world :).

  • Reply
    Amy
    24th June 2018 at 4:00 am

    Norfolk is also a great place to find seals too. My mum visits there a lot as she has family living there and always sends us pictures of cute little seal pups from the beaches she walks her dog along ( On a lead of course)

  • Reply
    Darla
    24th June 2018 at 6:18 am

    Wow! There are some cool animals around the U.K. I would’ve never known! I’ve never seen a Fallow Deer before. I’d also love to see the puffins in their natural habitat!!

  • Reply
    Kelly Keegan
    26th June 2018 at 3:11 pm

    It’s pure insanity that I live in the UK, am 33, love nature and have NEVER actually gone to wildlife spot in any of these places. I’m determined to see puffins this year though. It’s gotta happen!

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