Holiday report, wildlife watching in the UK 2020

So for the last couple of weeks I have been roaming some of the wilder parts of the UK with my family.

In a usual year, we could hope to be roaming some parts of Europe or further afield. However due to the risk of being stuck outside the UK should the government change the rules and require isolation on return we felt it was safer to stay in the UK this year.

As such we split our time between 3 destinations.

  1. The forest of Dean: one of the wildest parts of the UK, a significant area of old growth forest. It has become one of the wilder places, in part due to the arrival of wild boar. There has also recently started a relocation program moving pine martens from Scotland into the forest of Dean.the first 11 have been moved in about 9 months ago and translocations will continue until around 60 have been moved. is appears that two litters of kits have already arrived, suggesting the pine Marten to very happy in their new environment. I should note that our trip was to see the wild boar not the pine martens, though we did keep our eyes open looking for signs of pine marten presence
  2. Cardigan bay: one of the most reliable places in the UK to watch dolphins. Alongside dolphins there is also the possibility to see porpoises and seals
  3. The River otter in Devon: around 12 years ago it became known the family of beavers were living on the River otter. The government initially said that all the beavers needed to be taken into captivity to be tested for disease, however regardless of their status they then would not be returned. It was uproar in the local area and so they were returned for a 5-year trial. Those 5 years just ended and the results are impressive. As such the government is giving them the permanent right to remain, and essentially the beaver is to be reintroduced to the UK. There are indeed in number of reintroduction projects ongoing in the UK,as well as a significant number of landowners who wish to reintroduce them onto their land. Encouragingly it is not only the ultra wealthy who do not use their land, many farmers are recognising that by putting aside a small amount of their land they can increase the value of the rest. Apart from avoiding flooding which can result in the destruction of crops, beavers also increase biodiversity-which leads to far higher densities of insects that are needed to pollinate the crops.

Astoundingly, we were successful on all three fronts.

I will write up each section of the trip separately, however I am keen to simplify the process of seeing these animals in the wild for other people in the UK. I’m hoping in the next few weeks to be able to go live with a page for each, with links for places to stay and other useful information.

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