Leading long-range optic specialists, SWAROVSKI OPTIK, has teamed up with journalist, author and wildlife enthusiast Simon Barnes to help staycationers discover the best places in the UK to spot wildlife this summer.

From marvelling at gannets in East Berwick and eagles in Mull to spotting dolphins in New Quay and Britain’s largest butterfly in Norfolk, Simon Barnes’ secret spots ensure nature enthusiasts increase their chances of seeing true British wildlife wonders this summer.

Simon’s five must-visit British wildlife pilgrimage spots are:

1. Bass Rock For Gazing At Gannets
You can get to this place of marvels by taking a train to East Berwick and walking across the golf course. Do this and you will find a great rock rising out of the sea. It’s white because it’s completely covered with gannets: birds with spear-bills, six-foot wingspans and a tactic of plunging into the sea from an astonishing height. There are a good 150,000 of them. You can take a boat trip around the rock, and there are longer trips that involve a landing in easy weather. To be among gannets in such numbers is like joining the angels in the vaults of heaven – though the smell is not quite the same.

2. Rutland Water For Spotting Ospreys
This place is bang in the middle of England, easy to get to for almost everyone, and it’s where ospreys nest. Ospreys are birds of prey that plunge talon-first into the water after fish. They went extinct in Britain in the 19th century but made a comeback to Scotland in the 1950s. They were later reintroduced to Rutland and they have thrived. Here you will find good look-out points, people will tell you where the nests are (this is a spring and summer sport) and with luck, you will see the great birds cruising over the water. Don’t take your eye off them: they may be thinking about a plunge.

3. New Quay For Discovering Dolphins
This small town in the middle of Cardigan Bay is one of the best places in Britain to see dolphins. Summer is the time to go. You can sometimes see them from the harbour wall, just behind the ice-cream vans. There are boat trips that will give you the best opportunity for setting eyes on them and believe me, there are few things more exciting than seeing a dolphin break the surface: it’s the greatest conjuring trick of them all. Sometimes they will leap clear of the surface, apparently just for the fun of it: and it’s a hard-hearted person who can hold back a cheer.

4. Strumpshaw Fen And Hickling Broad, Norfolk For Seeing Swallowtail Butterflies
Visit Strumpshaw Fen and Hickling Broad in Norfolk on a sunny day in June and with a bit of luck, you’ll find Britain’s largest and most spectacular butterfly. The swallowtail is shining yellow and when you find one flying through the reeds in these watery places, it seems more like an honorary bird. If you ever thought that butterflies were strictly for mad specialists, think again. Swallowtails make entomologists of us all.

5. Mull For Marvelling At Eagles
In the last decade or so Mull has become a place of wildlife pilgrimage. The island distils not one but two single malt whiskies and has not one but two species of eagle. All four are easy enough to find. The white-tailed eagles prefer the coasts and the sharp rocky inlets, whereas you are more likely to see the golden eagle inland. There are boat trips and observation points. Both eagles have the quality of sky-blackening hugeness: catch sight of one and you will be rejoicing forever, praising the day you decided to be a wildlife enthusiast.

Simon Barnes explains: ‘“You can go to any of these places with a very real chance of seeing something special. You have to travel a bit. You have to go to where the wild things are. There’s wildlife everywhere, but the more you go to the right places, the more likely you are to see the sort of stuff that makes you whoop or sob or just gaze open-mouthed, hardly able to believe that the planet contains such wonders and that you are permitted to see them.“

The world belongs to those who can see beauty.
Experience the moment!

Photo caption:
Image 1: Discover dolphins in New Quay this summer. Photo Credit Tom Swinnen via Pexels.
Image 2:
Simon Barnes standing in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia. Photograph: David Bebber.
Image 3:
Visit Strumpshaw Fen and Hickling Broad in Norfolk to see swallowtail butterflies. Photo Credit: Pixabay via Pexels.

SWAROVSKI OPTIK, headquartered in Absam, Tyrol, is part of the Swarovski group of companies. Founded in 1949, the Austrian company specialises in the development and manufacturing of long-range optical instruments of the highest precision in the premium segment of the market. The binoculars, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, and optronic instruments are products of choice for demanding users. The company’s success is based on its innovative strength, the quality and intrinsic value of its products, and their functional and esthetic design. The appreciation of nature is an essential part of its company philosophy and is reflected commendably in its environment-friendly production and its long-term commitment to selected nature conservation projects. The turnover in 2020 was 163.5 million euros (2019: 158.7 million euros), with an export ratio of 91%. The company has around 1,000 employees.

Simon Barnes is an English writer, author of more than 30 books, including four novels and the best-selling Bad Birdwatcher trilogy. He was Chief Sportswriter of  The Times until 2014, and also wrote a wildlife opinion column in the Saturday edition of the same newspaper. Barnes was educated at  Emanuel School, and studied English literature at the  University of Bristol, which awarded Barnes an honorary Doctorate in 2007. After beginning his journalism career on local newspapers in Britain, he travelled to Hong Kong, where he worked as a Gonzo journalist for four years. After his return to Britain, he started working for The Times. His book Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible was voted Waterstone’s Book of the Month and is available from Amazon and Waterstones 

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