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Top 10 Locations for Wildlife Photography in the UK

mountain hare cairngorms photography

Stuck for places to find wildlife? The UK is home to a wide variety of species, but finding them can be difficult if you don’t know where to start. This list looks at the top 10 wildlife locations in the UK, favourited by many of the country’s photographers.

Perhaps you have a different, awesome location that we haven’t included? Feel free to mention it in the comments at the bottom of this article. Hopefully, this list will give you all the inspiration you need for your next shoot.

1. Farne Islands, Northumberland

puffin atlantic farne islandsNaturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough has said that the Farne Islands are his favourite place to see UK wildlife and its best. He’s definitely right! The Farnes plays host to 150,000 pairs of seabirds that cram onto the islands over the breeding season in summertime. The main attraction are the colourful Atlantic puffins, but there are also multiple species of tern (including some rarities), razorbills, guillemots, eider ducks and more.

A boat ride to the islands, which are owned by the National Trust, takes you straight to the heart of the action. Walk up a path (and try not to step on any nesting terns) and you’ll find yourself being dive-bombed by Arctic terns – we recommend a hat of sorts!

where to see wildlife in the ukOnce you’ve made it through the onslaught, you’ll be greeted by the nesting puffins. The sound on the islands is tremendous and you will be amazed how close you will find yourself to the birds. There is a great atmosphere on the island, with punters keeping a respectful distance from the birds. This is definitely not to be missed.

There are plenty of seals to see all year round too, usually spotted relaxing on the rocks around the islands. A true wildlife hotspot!

More information on the Farne Islands can be found on the National Trust website.

2. Cairngorms, Scotland

mountain hare cairngorms photographyThe Cairngorms National Park, near Aviemore in Scotland, is a true favourite amongst photographers when it comes to wildlife. The beauty of the area alone is outstanding, but the creatures that inhabit it are truly mesmerising.

Clamber up a snow covered hill and keep your eyes peeled for mountain hare. They turn from brown to white in the winter, camouflaging them against their surroundings. The same goes for Ptarmigan, a bird of the grouse family, with its beautiful white feathers.

red deer scotlandThere are plenty of red deer too, often visible from the roadside. This gives you a great opportunity to practise your fieldcraft skills and creep up closer for a photo. There is wildlife all year round at the Cairngorms, but it is most popular with photographers in the winter.

We recommend that you hire a photographic guide to maximise your chances of seeing wildlife in the Cairngorms.

More information on the Cairngorms National Park.

3. Exmoor National Park

exmoor national parkLocated in the South West of England, Exmoor National Park is an area of open moorland that plays host to the famed Exmoor ponies. There are plenty of roads along the moors, but a car is pretty essential. You can see the ponies from the road and most are fairly obliging for you to walk closer to them.

I recommend heading out for an early morning session so you can see the ponies in the golden light. The ponies are completely wild and beautiful to watch. There are also red deer around on the moors too.

More information on Exmoor National Park.

4. Bass Rock, Scotland

(Morus bassanus)

Home to a colony of 150,000 northern gannets, Bass Rock is a sight to behold. From a distance the rock appears a mottled white, and that’s just because of all the birds nesting on it.

A boat ride to this isolated community is possible from a nearby harbour, and you can actually land on the rock. You’re able to then walk up a path through the gannets and photograph to your heart’s content.

However, actually getting a place on the trip means booking far in advance. Even then you aren’t safe from disappointment, as rough seas mean that the boats won’t sail and your trip is cancelled. But it’s worth the risk, and watching the birds’ lives play out before your eyes is magical.

More information is available online.

5. Richmond Park

How to Photograph Deer Richmond Park

Richmond Park is one of the most popular photography locations in the UK amongst wildlife photographers. Situated on the outskirts of London, it provides a much needed escape from the city.

The park holds over 600 semi-wild red and fallow deer, and attracts millions of people every year. During the autumn months, deer can be seen rutting and it is possible to get atmospheric shots during sunrise and sunset.

More information available on the Royal Parks website.

6. Skomer Islands

Skomer is a reserve of the Wildlife Trusts and home to an estimated 6,000 pairs of puffins. There are also 316,000 breeding pairs of manx shearwaters. The surrounding waters also play host to dolphins, providing some unique photography opportunities.

More information on Skomer Islands is available online.

7. Gigrin Farm

Kite-DiveGigrin Farm is a 200-acre family-run farm, famous for its red kite feeding station. Located in mid-Wales, Gigrin provides unique opportunities for photographers and attracts visitors from all over the country. Both general viewing and specialist photography hides are available, allowing for great viewing of red kites.

Each day food is put out for red kites, and the skies quickly fill with hundreds of birds. Watch them dive down to snatch meat from the ground – the difficulty is picking one bird out of so many to photograph!

It is great fun, but also challenging – the amount of birds doesn’t guarantee great shots, but in fact makes it harder!

More information is available on the Gigrin Farm website.

8. Brownsea Island

How-Do-You-DoBrownsea Island provides those in the south of England a unique opportunity to see red squirrels, which are endangered in the UK.

The island is owned by the National Trust and is also home to populations of sika deer. There are also a wide variety of habitat types and fungi to photograph.

More information is available online.

9. New Forest

newforest-2New Forest National Park is 571 square-kilometres, and provides ample activities as well as chances to watch wildlife. Following the trails, especially around Bolderwood, allows you to see red deer in the surrounding pastures.

But if you walk off the trails into the woods, you can have a much more magical experience. Stalking deer through the leaves, you may just find yourself stumbling upon a group. There are also groups of wild ponies around the park.

More information is available on the New Forest National Park website.

10. Chanonry Point, Black Isle

dolphinHead north into Scotland and onto the beautiful Black Isle, and you’ll get to Chanonry Point. An area now famous for its dolphins that come within metres of the shoreline, allowing photographers to shoot close-up images of a normally hard to access marine mammal.

Read our article “How to Photograph Dolphins” for more information on photographic technique.

More information is available online.

11. Where Are Your Favourite Places?

Bonus question! Where are your favourite places in the UK to photograph wildlife? Add them in the comments below.

 

Will Nicholls is the founder of Nature TTL and a professional wildlife photographer and film-maker from England. Having been photographing since the age of 12, Will's images have won a string of awards, including the title of "Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year" in 2009 from the British Wildlife Photography Awards. Will is also the author of the book On the Trail of Red Squirrels.

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