10 OF THE BEST PLACES TO SPOT WILDLIFE

Take a walk or guided trip in a beautiful location where you can really get back to nature and spot some amazing animals. Here are some of the places we recommend around the Flybe network...

Seal Island, St Ives, Cornwall (Newquay)

Seal Island, St Ives, Cornwall (Newquay)

Go spotting: Seals

Seal Island, you may be surprised to know, is not, in fact, an island. Rather, it’s the largest of the Western Carracks, rocky outcrops on the Cornish coastline. Seal-spotting is not a new pastime in St Ives – visitors have been heading out on boats to spot the Grey Atlantic Seals since the 1930s. Buy a ticket for a boat trip from outside St Ives Lifeboat Station and take the trip around St Ives head, passing the rugged Cornish cliffs and secluded coves to Seal island, where it is very rare to not see seals basking on the rocks or swimming in the sea. And, being friendly creatures, used to the boat trips, they might even swim up close to you to say hello!

 

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The Isle of Skye, Scotland (Inverness)

The Isle of Skye, Scotland (Inverness)

Go spotting: Puffins, Red Deer, Golden Eagles, Minke Whales
The Isle of Skye is a wonderful place to watch wildlife – as well as the above, you can also see otters, dolphins, Atlantic salmon, gannets and pine martens. Take a boat trip on one of the many different boat tours available, including the Seaprobe Atlantis, a glass-bottomed boat (runs until the end of October), to get ferried to the spots where you’re most likely to see your preferred creature. Alternatively take a wildlife tour with a company such as Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours (www.skyewildlife.com) who will take you to see a Golden Eagle cruising a mountain ridge or an otter hunting the shoreline…

 

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Brownsea Island, Dorset (Southampton)

Brownsea Island, Dorset (Southampton)

Go spotting: Red squirrels and Sika deer

Autumn is the best time for Red Squirrel-watching on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. The reserve, which is leased from the National Trust by Dorset Wildlife Trust, is home to waders, particularly avocets, black-tailed godwits and visiting wildfowl or breeding terns in the summer. The reedbeds and alder carr are home to water voles and sika deer, as well as kingfishers, while there are approximately 200 Red Squirrels to be spotted, too! The nature reserve has a large sheltered lagoon as well as woodland, lakes, pine woods and bird hides from which to spot the wildlife.

 

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West Cork, Ireland (Cork)

West Cork, Ireland (Cork)

Go spotting: Whales and dolphins
Whale Watch West Cork runs tours that will take you to one of the richest areas for whale- and dolphin-watching in Ireland. At this time of year, the guides predict that you could see common dolphins, fin whales and humpback whales. The Irish government declared the coastal waters of Ireland a whale and dolphin sanctuary during the early 1990s. The first of its kind in Europe, this paved the way for whale-watching in Ireland to become a prime activity for visitors. There have been 24 of the world’s whales and dolphins recorded in Irish waters.

 

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Cardigan Bay, Wales (Cardiff)

Cardigan Bay, Wales (Cardiff)

Go spotting: Dolphins

Did you know that the UK’s biggest pod of dolphins lives in Cardigan Bay? Take a boat trip to see birds, Atlantic grey seals, Harbour Porpoise and Bottlenose dolphins, in their natural environment. Dolphins are highly sociable animals, and may even swim along by the boat, making their high-pitched whistling and clicking, or hunting for fish! The best time to see them is April to September, so head there quick or start planning for next year!

 

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Cheddar Gorge (Exeter)

Cheddar Gorge (Exeter)

Go spotting: Horseshoe bats, dormice, slow worms, adders
A Site of Special Scientific Interest, Cheddar Gorge is Britain’s highest gorge, at 400 feet. It is situated in the Mendip Hills, a limestone ridge classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The caves of the gorge were inhabited some 40,000 years ago – these days, they’re home to bats, including endangered greater horseshoe bats. You can also spot slow worms, adders, dormice (hopefully not together) and the large blue, a butterfly that was once thought to have gone extinct. Read more at Somerset wildlife

 

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The Cairngorms (Aberdeen)

The Cairngorms (Aberdeen)

Go spotting: Golden eagles, ospreys, wildcats, the Scottish crossbill
The Cairngorms in the eastern Scottish highlands are a fantastic place to spot wildlife. It’s Britain’s largest national park, at 3,800 square kilometres, and boasts primeval Caledonian forest, arctic mountain landscape, moors, glens, lochs and rivers. It’s home to otters, red deer, wild reindeer, snow buntings, capercaillies, ptarmigans, the crested tit as well as the animals listed above.

 

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Pyrenees (Toulouse)

Pyrenees (Toulouse)

Go spotting: Bears, deer, birds, foxes, otters, marmots and the Chamois

The Pyrenees are a wonderful habitat to go walking in, and you’re bound to encounter some interesting wildlife along the way. Ever seen a marmot in real life? You’ll find a whole load of merchandise adorned with images of the cute-looking creatures, and you may well spot them, along with the Pyrenean chamois, a species of goat-antelope, red deer and the Egyptian vulture. There are also brown bears living in the forests of central Pyrenees – not that we recommend going looking for them!

 

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National Park of Sierra de Andujar (Malaga)

National Park of Sierra de Andujar (Malaga)

Go spotting: Iberian Lynx

The Sierra is one of two of Spain's last refuges for the elusive and highly endangered lynx, whose population has around 80 adults that produce some 35 cubs a year. The increasingly rare wolf also inhabits the Sierra, one of the few places it is still found in Andalucia. Birds of prey are a common sight, and you can also spot roe deer, mouflon, wild boars, wild cats and Egyptian mongooses. There are also otters around the rivers, along with common chiffchaffs, warblers, golden orioles, nightingales, grey and purple herons, little grebes, coots and the mallard.

 

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The New Forest (Southampton)

The New Forest (Southampton)

Go spotting: Wild ponies

Drive around the New Forest and you’ll likely have to slow down and wait for ponies to wander across the road in front of you. There are approximately 3,000 bay and chestnut ponies, standing no taller than 148cm high, roaming freely here. The New Forest is made up of 193,000 acres of heathland and ancient woodland, with over 140 miles of tracks to explore, walks for all abilities, and an abundance of wildlife to see. All six species of deer found in the UK also wander around the National Park, as well as donkeys and cattle.

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