Unlike us Homo sapiens – who batten down the hatches at the first sign of the impending winter – wildlife flourishes when the mercury drops and the leaves turn amber. Whether fattening up on seasonal fruits, nuts and berries, or fleeing the imminent chill, there’s loads of critters to spot during the autumn months. Here’s a quick guide on what you’re likely to see should you stray into the country this fall.
Spot seal pups at Farne Islands
Not only are the Farne Islands home to one of the UK’s largest seabird colonies – there’s 23 species here, including 37,000 pairs of puffins – they’re also home to a large grey seal colony. On average, around 1,000 seal pups are born on the Farne Islands every autumn, so it’s the perfect place to spot these enchanting aquatic beasts. Historically, these North Sea islets were renowned for their ties to Celtic Christianity, though in recent times, high tides mean they’re now only accessible by boat. To see these cuties though, a boat trip seems a small price to pay.
Bottlenose Dolphins, The Lizard, Cornwall
You know that bit of land in Cornwall that sticks out into the Atlantic? That’s called the Lizard Peninsula, or ‘The Lizard’ for short. Why it’s called the Lizard Peninsula I have no clue, but one thing’s for sure; there’s aquatic wildlife aplenty off the coast of this un-reptilian shaped headland. Basking sharks, seals and harbour porpoises are among the sea dwellers you’re likely to spot off the Lizard coast, as well as everyone’s favourite, the bottlenose dolphin. Autumn is a great time to see dolphins wherever you are in the UK, but the beauty of the Lizard Peninsula is sure to make a sighting that extra bit special.
Black Grouse, Durham Dales
For bumpkins, the grouse is commonplace on any country lane commute. For city slickers however, the closest you may have come to one of these handsome birds is the animated one that appears on TV at Christmastime advertising Scotch. Head to the very lovely Durham Dales during the months of autumn and chances are you’ll spot one or two Black Grouse, a globally threatened variety of the Grouse. Though twitching may not be on everyone’s holiday agenda, an afternoon searching for Black Grouse won’t feel wasted when you see Durham’s charming landscapes.
Red Deer, Beecrags Country Park, West Lothian
Although Red Deer are synonymous with the British countryside, how many of us have actually laid eyes on one in the wild? Growing up on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, I was lucky enough to see plenty of deer, though none – to my knowledge – were red. For those of you who’d like to see the majestic red deer in the flesh, now’s the perfect time to do so. The Beecrags Country Park in West Lothian is home to a large herd of deer, and it’s around this time that the male bucks go head to head to impress females.
Puffins, South Stack Cliffs, Anglesey
Just look at ‘em – aren’t they a delight? Needless to say, I’m a big fan of the humble puffin. These comical cliff dwellers are one of the UK’s most beloved seabirds, and for good reason. Though the largest colony of puffins can be found at RSPB Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire, there’s plenty of other places around the British Isles where you can find these multi-coloured wonders, including here, at the South Stack Cliffs in Anglesey. This spectacular headland is teeming with puffins at this time of year, and it’s also the perfect place to blow out the cobwebs with a blustery coastal walk.
Watch wildlife on an autumn cottage break
If your other half’s not keen on devoting a day to wildlife watching, then you could always bribe them with a weekend cottage break from Sykes. We’ve got hundreds of cottages with availability this autumn in many of the UK’s favourite wildlife hotspots, so grab the binoculars and book yours today.