Throw your plane tickets in the trash and put away your passport: wildlife photographers in the UK have plenty to point their cameras at. Whether you’re looking to shoot fascinating birds, large mammals or even experiment with a spot of dive photography, this sceptre’d isle has something for virtually all wildlife photographers, from weekend warriors to those who love nothing more that popping on a ghillie suit and lying in a bog all week. So treat your telephoto lens to a clean and pack a few spare memory cards and head on our north-to-south wildlife tour of the UK.
Mountain Hare by Wildlife Photography master – Tesni Ward
Otters: The Isle of Mull, Scotland
If you’ve ever seen an otter in England, you’re a lucky soul. If you see an otter on the Isle of Mull, you’re just a soul, because the tiny furry blighters are everywhere. The island, just off the coast from Oban and reachable on a car ferry, is notable for its abundant mammal wildlife, including seals, red deer and seals as well as otters, but also for its incredible birding. Both golden and white-tailed sea eagles call the island their home – find a decent wildlife guide and you could spend a weekend amassing an incredible selection of shots. You don’t even need to go that far from civilisation – there have been plenty of dolphins spotted in the bay off Tobermory.
Basking sharks: Oban
The second of our Scotland-based wildlife treats – Oban, or more precisely, the waters around it, are frequented by basking sharks during the summer. Basking sharks are BIG, hitting up to eight metres long, and for those in possession of a decent dive case and a set of snorkelling gear, there are plenty of respected operators who will kit you out with a wetsuit and an afternoon to find and swim with them.
Head to Yorkshire for gannets – gorgeous seabirds that offer photographers some incredible behavioural photographs as they nest together and preen each other. Take your camera and some smelling salts – Bempton Cliffs, an RSPB reserve famed for its gannet population, has around a quarter of a million seabirds… which is a lot of bird poo.
All the seabirds: the Farne Islands, Northumberland
Like puffins? Of course you do. Like terns? Probably, although we’d recommend either a thick skull or a decent hat. The Farne Islands are well-known for their seasonal puffin population, but keen birders are in for a treat well beyond the clowns of the sea. Kittiwakes, fulmars, razorbills and more can all be seen, while a seasonal seal population gives mammal fans something to shoot.
Red kites: Ceredigion
Red kites are one of the UK’s most incredible conservation success stories – virtually invisible a decade ago and now a guaranteed sighting throughout much of Wales. Head to the RSPB reserve at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian, where they feed the birds every day of the year, guaranteeing veritable flocks of the scavengers. Red kites are a great bird to photograph for beginners – with an eight-foot wingspan and slow, graceful flight, getting flight shots is easy.
Red squirrels: Brownsea Island, Poole
From a conservation success story to one facing rather more challenging conditions, red squirrels are nonetheless one of the UK’s talismanic mammal species. Their numbers throughout much of the UK have collapsed into insignificance, but on Brownsea Island, a National Trust reserve in the middle of Poole Harbour, there’s a native, breeding population untroubled by pesky grey squirrels, who don’t fancy the swim. Our advice – budget a few days to get a mere handful of good shots, as well as a decent-length lens and some finely-honed reactions, because red squirrels are simultaneously extremely fast and extremely small.
Got a decent wildlife pic from one of the above? Upload it to our Flickr group, or tag it with #OlympusUK on Instagram to be in with a chance of being featured on our social media channels.
Struggling to get a decent pic? Head out with tame wildlife pro Tesni Ward on one of her photography workshops this year and let her show you the ropes. Workshops throughout the summer on the Farne Islands and Bempton Cliffs will offer OLYMPUS users incredible learning experiences.