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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Goats, glow-worms and great red stags: where to go wildlife spotting in the UK – in pictures

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  • Kashmiri goats of the Great Orme

    Llandudno’s Kashmiri goats became celebrities when they ventured into the deserted town centre during the Covid-19 lockdowns. In less newsworthy times, their home is the Great Orme: the craggy limestone peninsula of pebbly shores and switchback roads that protrudes just beyond the handsome Welsh seaside town. Legend has it that the goats’ ancestors were originally a gift to Queen Victoria from the Shah of Iran. Stay among the ivy-swathed turrets of Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel, a historic hotel within 25 minutes’ drive of Llandudno.

    Great Orme Kashmiri Goat walking along wallKashmiri Billy goat (Great Orme, Llandudno), walks along wall on cliff edge of the headland.

  • Red squirrels of the Isle of Wight

    Though the North American grey squirrel has largely displaced the red squirrel across the UK, the native species have clung on valiantly in a few patches. One notable redoubt is the Isle of Wight, thought to be the domain of about 3,500 red squirrels – the National Trust’s Borthwood Copse and the coastal ravine of Shanklin Chine are among the places you might spot them scampering high up in the canopy. With a stirring prospect across the Solent, Bembridge Coast Hotel lies within a 20 minute drive of Borthwood Copse.

    Two red squirrels facing each other at the side of a pool and perfectly reflected. One of the squirrels is eating a nut while the other looks on

  • Adders in Gunton Warren Nature Reserve

    Spanning a rich mosaic of habitats, Gunton Warren is a wild tract of East Anglian coastline that has miraculously survived on the edge of Lowestoft. It’s an abidingly popular spot with birdwatchers – though if you’re lucky you might spot reptilian residents, too. Look out for adders that slither out from hibernation in March, basking on logs or derelict second world war pillboxes under the Suffolk sun. Right next to Gunton Warren, Gunton Hall Coastal Village is the go-to hotel for nature lovers; its woodland lake is on the flight path for migrating birds.

    Adder, Vipera berus, female, head, Midlands

  • Otters in the River Yeo

    Nocturnal, solitary and notoriously shy, spotting an otter can be as elusive as a lottery win – and similarly satisfying. Fortunately, odds have improved in recent decades with resurgent numbers: Yeovil Country Park is one place lucky souls might see them – follow the current of the River Yeo on the Riverside Walk through sun-dappled woodlands and keep your fingers crossed. A stately country home set in almost 65 hectares of grounds, gardens, lakes and woodland, Cricket St Thomas is a 30-minute drive from Yeovil.

    Short clawed otter, Aonyx cinereus, close up portrait with facial expressions and behaviour with background during a bright summers day.

  • Brent geese in Langstone Harbour

    The coming of winter sees dark-bellied brent geese set off on an epic journey: taking off from their breeding grounds on the Siberian tundra, soaring south-west over the Baltic, and reaching their journey’s end around the Solent. Thousands of these pint-size geese stick out during the coldest months in Langstone Harbour, where they can be found waddling about the mudflats and surrounding fields from October to March. Stay at Sinah Warren Hotel, which overlooks the entrance to Langstone Harbour and out across the Solent from its perch on Hayling Island.

    Brent Goose Branta bernicla

  • Curlew in Nidderdale

    A neighbour to the famous Yorkshire Dales National Park, Nidderdale AONB has a tapestry of habitats for birdwatchers to explore – look out for curlews, lapwings and black grouse on the blustery moorlands that loom above the reservoirs. Also keep an eye out for the distinctive grey wagtail along the wooded banks of the River Nidd – a species often found around rushing water. Downstream, the River Nidd passes close to grand Nidd Hall Hotel, whose sash windows watch over rolling Yorkshire farmland.

    Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea), adult perched on a rock in the River Ure in Hackfall Woods on the eastern edge of the Nidderdale Area

  • Glow-worms at Sherwood Forest

    As well as Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest is home to an equally merry population of glow-worms – a kind of beetle whose females resemble larvae, and which radiate a faint glow in order to attract a mate. Still nights in midsummer are when the glow-worms feel most romantic – don’t pack a torch, instead allow 20 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness so you can detect their faint green luminescence. Housed in one of Nottinghamshire’s most important houses, spa hotel Thoresby Hall Hotel lies on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

    GLOW-WORM female glowing Lampyris noctiluca

  • The deer of Tatton Park

    Tatton Park sprawls aristocratically across the Cheshire countryside: within its grounds you’ll find a neoclassical mansion, a haunted Tudor manor house, and a vast deer park established by Royal Charter in 1290. Eight centuries later, more than 400 red deer and fallow deer can be found roaming across 1,000 acres of parkland: visit in autumn to see rutting males, and in summer to see young fawns following the herds. Stay at award-winning Alvaston Hall, home to a classic Cheshire pub-inspired restaurant.

    Red deer Cervus elaphus during rutting season at Tatton park

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