14 places to photograph wildlife in the UK – perfect for the Countryfile Calendar Photo Competition

Find inspiration for the Countryfile Calendar competition with these great wildlife locations – where you can answer this year's theme "The Call of the Wild"

22nd June 2017
Pine Marten, Getty images

The Countryfile Calendar Competition 2018 is up and running and the theme is: The Call of the Wild. Here is our pick of some wonderful wild landscapes with photogenic wildlife that may help you take that winning shot.

For more details about the Countryfile Calendar Competition, visit here.

 

1. Farne Islands, Northumberland

The Farne Islands are home to well over 55 000 pairs of puffins as well as a great many other seabirds including; guillemots, fulmar, oystercatchers and cormorants. Boat trips can take you around the bird sanctuaries on the cliffs and to see the thriving grey seal population.   

Farne Islands - with puffin
Puffins photographed from the boat approaching the Farne Islands. Getty Images

2. Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire

August is the time to visit the UK's only mainland gannetry on Bempton Cliffs with tours from the RSPB running every Tuesday and Saturday. The area's other exciting species to spot include a large puffin colony, short-eared owls, peregrines, skylarks, meadow pipits and porpoises out to sea.

Gannets at Bempton Cliffs
The UK's only mainland gannetry – at Bempton Cliffs, east Yorkshire. Getty Images

3. Lundy Island, Bristol Channel

A controversial project from 2003-2004 to eradicate 40 000 rats from the Isle of Lundy was only part of a major operation to help boost puffin and manx shearwater numbers - the bird eggs were under threat from the rats. It is also England's only statutory Marine Nature Reserve and now boasts a vast array of marine wildlife, seabirds, sea mammals (such as basking sharks and dolphins) and a permanent colony of 60-70 grey seals.

Lundy island
Point of arrival at Lundy Island. Getty Images

 

4. Gigrin Farm and Kite Feeding Station, Powys

One of the best places to see red kites as a result of its intensive rehabilitation programme after Wales became home to the last remaining red kites in the UK in the 20th century. Careful safeguarding of this beautiful bird by generations of landowners, rural communities, individuals and organisations in this area of Mid-Wales has meant that there are now over 600 breeding pairs in Wales and they have been re-introduced to England and Scotland.

Red kites at Gigrin Farm
Red kites swarm at Gigrin Farm in mid Wales. Getty Images

5. The Begwns, Powys

You can find golden plover, red grouse, peregrine falcons, red kites, buzzards and brown hares at this very quiet heath common which also has 360 º views to Hay Bluff and the Black mountains. Around the lake you can also see several species of dragonfly and damslefly. 

Golden plover in its summer plumage.
A glorious golden plover in its summer plumage. Getty Images

6. Rathlin Island, County Antrim

Spring and Summer are the best times to visit to catch the wealth of seabirds that flock to Rathlin Island cliffs including fulmars, puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Inland you can also find Irish hares and a variety of orchids.

Guillemots nesting on a sea stack on Rathlin Island
Guillemots nesting on a sea stack on Rathlin Island. Getty Images

7. Hartslock Reserve, Hertfordshire

The reserve has been made a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest' on account of the amount of orchids that flower here. May and June are good times to visit for monkey and lady orchids and you will also see lots of butterflies including green hairstreak, painted lady, small heath, common blue and brimstone. Remember to keep to the marked routes to avoid treading on any orchids.

8. Cairngorms, eastern Scottish Highlands

At the Cairngorms National Park you can see an exciting amount and variety of wildlife in many different habitats. Try Lochnagar for red deer, see golden eagles around the Ladder Hills, ospreys and otters fishing at Muir of Dinnet, Loch Morlich for Britian's only wild reindeer herd, the rare pine marten and badgers at night at Rothiemurcus, Craigellachie for peregrine falcons and red squirrels near the Mar Lodge estate. 

Pine marten
A Cairngorms pine marten hide might provide a stunning encounter. Getty Images

9. Lyme Park, Cheshire

The brown hare has suffered a decline in population of 75 per cent in the UK over the last 50 years but Lyme Park is still a great location to see them, visit in March to see the hares 'box' during mating season.

Brown hare
A fabulous brown hare – the honorary antelope of the British Isles. Getty Images.

10. Brownsea Island, Dorset

The National Trust island is one of the best places to see and photograph the red squirrel which is  extinct in the rest of southern England because of competing grey squirrel populations. The island's squirrels are still shy however and it is best to try to spot them at sunrise and sunset during Spring and Autumn. Also look out for feral peacocks that roam the island.

Red squirrel
A red squirrel eating an acorn on Brownsea Island in Dorset. Getty Images

11. Kinder Scout, Howden Edge, Derwent Edge, Peak District, Derbyshire

With its range of different habitats the Peak District is a wildlife haven. Expect to see a vast range including red grouse (on the moorlands of Kinder Scout), mountain hares (at Derwent and Howden Edges), bats, merlins, hen harriers, three species of owl (tawny, little and barn) and much more.

Derwent Edge
Derwent Edge in the Peak District – an excellent site for moorland wildlife. Getty Images.

12. Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides

This wild, beautiful island of the west of Scotland has very impressive bird populations including birds of prey and seabirds as well as being home to otters, red deer and seals. The white-tailed eagle and golden eagle are the two prizes to look out for and bird safaris can also be arranged.

White-tailed eagle
White-tailed eagle fishing in the Inner Hebrides near Mull. Getty Images

13. Northward Hill, Kent

Over 100 pairs of grey herons and 93 pairs of egrets roost in the trees of Northward Hill RSPB Reserve which overlooks the Thames marshes. There are many other marsh birds and birds of prey to be seen on the marshes as well.

14. Sizergh Castle and Gardens, Cumbria

The beautiful woods and gardens of this magnificent National Trust property are great places to see fritillary butterflies including the pearl-bordered, small pearl-bordered, dark-green and high-brown fritillaries among many other species. 

 

You are currently reading: 14 places to photograph wildlife in the UK – perfect for the Countryfile Calendar Photo Competition - 22nd June
Get your first 5 issues for just £5 when you subscribe to BBC Countryfile magazine!

Subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine today and you can enjoy generous savings from the shop price plus, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.

Countryfile Magazine - Current Issue