52 Wildlife Weekends

A Year of British Wildlife-Watching Breaks

by James Lowen 

Publication Date:  09th Aug 2013


52 Wildlife Weekends Guide – Travel information and tips for 52 suggested British wildlife breaks including birdwatching and tracking advice, activities and walks. Also features local highlights and suggested itineraries in England, Scotland and Wales, transportation, when to go, accommodation and restaurant tips, maps and species identification.

About this book

This first guide to British wildlife experiences packaged into 52 weekend-sized breaks highlights the best of British wildlife – from tiny silver-spotted skippers to gargantuan basking sharks, from seabird skyscrapers to autumn fungi. For both the experienced wildlife tourist and the novice, the suggestions criss-cross England, Scotland and Wales. With stunning colour photos the author shows when, where and how to see Britain’s most exciting wildlife – complete with inspiring itineraries, engaging descriptions, detailed directions and tips on how to find, identify and enjoy British animals and plants. Each entry gives details on species of interest, the landscapes they inhabit and on how to plan the weekend. An ‘at a glance’ box summarizes details with a thumbnail map. Each entry suggests accommodation.

About the Author

James Lowen has been immersed in all aspects of natural history since he was able to walk, encouraging him to become a fully fledged wildlife writer, editor, guide and photograper. Upon his return to Britain from several years leading tours in South America and Antarctica, James had an irrepressible desire to renew his relationship with British nature. This book, 52 Wildlife Weekends, is the result. He has also written Pantanal Wildlife: A Visitor’s Guide to Brazil’s Great Wetland and Antarctica Wildlife: a Visitor’s Guide to the Wildlife of the Beagle Channel, Drake Passage and Antarctica Peninsula.


‘A diarised walkthrough of 52 wildlife-filled weekend destinations to explore and experience in every corner of the British countryside, this is a guide that will find a home in the caravans, tent pockets and backpacks of nature-lovers just about everywhere…… 52 Wildlife Weekends will provide many with the inspiration to get close to nature somewhere across our islands, and might add a few destinations to the bucket lists of those already enthused. This is a guide well worth buying?-?regardless of your location, interest or expertise on anything wildlife-related. Let yourself be inspired!’

‘Packed with stunning wildlife photography, this is an ideal guide to the range of British wildlife you can see as well as where to see it and when.’
Powys County Times and Express

‘Each chapter is an invitation to pack a picnic, pull on the walking boots and head out in search of our wonderful wildlife.’
The Simple Things

‘The text is, like the rest of the book, simply superb and full of feeling, as if the author has actually taken you there.’
Highland News

‘A pleasurable and practical read that aims to inspire and inform… an indispensible resource for anyone interested in British wildlife.’
Outdoor Photography

‘A year of wildlife-watching ideas divided into handy weekend breaks’
Countryman Magazine

‘Packaged in a handy-sized and beautifully illustrated book. The sumptuous photographs on the front cover provide a taster of the wonderful variety of wildlife that can be enjoyed across Britain… a great addition to any bookshelf’
The Biggest Twitch

‘An invaluable, inspirational guide and a real bargain to boot.’
BBC Wildlife

“A good idea and a useful guide… packed with information and well written… a good reminder that Britain has plenty of wildlife if you go to the right places, at the right times”
Mark Avery, British Wildlife.

‘Offers inspiring itineraries for a year of unforgettable wildlife-watching breaks across the UK’
Sussex Wildlife Trust

‘This would suit non-specialists as well as seasoned naturalists, and, accompanied by some fine photographs, contains evocative accounts of varied landscapes, from balmy evenings in the Chilterns to the saturated fens of Norfolk.’
Good Book Guide

‘This book provides an excellent starting point for a novice or for a ‘wild’ family to explore nature across beautiful Britain!’ Dorset Wildlife Trust

‘Britain is rich in wildlife, and now, thanks to a new book, seeing all these creatures in their natural habitats has suddenly been made a lot easier.’

‘Learn where to spot basking sharks, forage for fungi, track red squirrels and more, with maps, itineraries and great photos.’
National Geographic Traveller

‘Who needs BBC’s Springwatch when this book has 52 good reasons to get out and see British wildlife for yourself?’
Wild Travel

Additional Information

Table of Contents

1 Wild goose chases and whisky chasers 1
Islay, Arg yll & Bute for barnacle goose, Greenland white-fronted goose,
chough, otter, goose barnacle
2 Meres, fens and washes 5
Cambridgeshire for Chinese water deer, muntjac, Bewick’s swan,
whooper swan, hen harrier
3 Larking about 9
New Forest, Hampshire for red deer, roe deer, wood lark,
great grey shrike, hawfinch
4 Seal of approval 13
Cleveland for harbour seal, grey seal, glaucous gull,
long-eared owl, waxwing
5 Fife’s seaduck fiefdom 17
Fife for scoter, purple sandpiper, white-tailed eagle,
Mediterranean gull, otter

6 Touting for Tarka 21
Northumberland for otter, red squirrel, great variety of ducks,
Mediterranean gull, red kite
7 Whirling waders, gathering geese, aerial attacks 25
Lancashire for otter, raptors, pink-footed goose, starling roost,
scarlet elf cup
8 Kite-flying 29
Powys for red kite, raven, dipper, polecat, Wilson’s filmy fern
9 Dark Peak, white hare 33
Peak District, Derbyshire for mountain hare, red deer, goshawk,
raven, red grouse

10 From rifles to Ratty 37
Greater London & Kent for water vole, water shrew,
harvest mouse, heronry, rook roost
11 Serpents of the sandlings 41
Suffolk for adder, Dartford warbler, otter, brown hare,
mossy stonecrop
12 Daffs in t’dale 45
North Yorkshire for wild daffodil, common lizard, red grouse,
goshawk, gannet
13 Wailing heath chicken run 49
The Brecks, Suffolk & Norfolk for stone-curlew, stoat, grape hyacinth,
Breckland speedwell, fingered speedwell

14 Sand and deliver! 53
Devon for sand crocus, sand lizard, wild daffodil,
rockpool species, cirl bunting
15 Highland spring, famous grouse 57
Inverness-shire for capercaillie, black grouse, osprey, golden eagle,
pine marten

16 Snakes and snake’s-heads 61
Gloucestershire & Wiltshire for wild boar, adder, goshawk, pied
flycatcher, snake’s head fritillary
17 A rabble of reptiles 65
Dorset for eight species of reptile, natter jack toad, sika, early
spider orchid, early gentian

18 Dukes and ladies 69
Kent for early spider orchid, lady orchid, bluebell,
shingle plants, Duke of Burgundy
19 Fantastic fish – and fishers 73
Radnorshire & Carmarthenshire for sea lamprey, brook lamprey,
badger, osprey, wood warbler
20 Pembrokeshire parrots, mystical Manxies 77
Pembrokeshire for Manx shearwater, puffin, gannet, bluebell, red campion
21 Limestone ladies 83
Cumbria & Lancashire for lady’s slipper, coralroot orchid,
pearl-bordered fritillary, Duke of Burgundy, natter jack toad
22 Machair marvels, streaming skuas 87
Outer Hebrides for machair plants including orchids, corncrake,
breeding waders, long-tailed skua, great yellow bumblebee

23 Fluttering by flowers 91
Hampshire & Wiltshire for sword-leaved helleborine, musk orchid,
frog orchid, Duke of Burgundy, pearl-bordered fritillary
24 Fens and flora 95
Glamorgan for fen orchid, early marsh orchid, fabulous flora,
fen raft spider, beachcomber beetle
25 Swallowtails and amazons 99
Norfolk Broads for swallowtail, Norfolk hawker, natter jack toad,
nightjar, crane
26 Island intensity 103
Northumberland for seabird colonies including roseate tern &
puffin, ‘Lindisfarne’ helleborine, grey seal, ballan wrasse

27 Butterfly high season 107
Cumbria for high brown fritillary, mountain ringlet, large heath,
dune helleborine, dark-red helleborine
28 The purple empire 113
Hampshire for purple emperor, bog orchid, southern damselfly,
scarce blue-tailed damselfly, nightjar
29 There be dragons… and dolphins 117
Inverness-shire for white-faced darter, northern damselfly, creeping
lady’s-tress, bumblebee robberfly, bottle-nosed dolphin
30 Snorkelling and skippers 121
Dorset for shiny spider crab, Lulworth skipper, small red damselfly,
heath tiger beetle, Dorset heath
31 Shark! 125
Cornwall & Devon for blue shark, basking shark, greater
horseshoe bat, southern damselfly, silver-studded blue

32 Basking on the Lizard 129
Cornwall for Cornish heath, yellow centaury, bog asphodel,
chough, basking shark
33 Pelagic paradise 133
Isles of Scilly for Wilson’s storm-petrel, great shearwater,
blue shark, grey seal, lesser white-toothed shrew
34 Mad Manx and mountains 137
Ceredigion & Snowdonia for Manx shearwater, osprey,
soprano pipistrelle, feral goat, Alpine saw-wort
35 The magnificent seven 141
Essex & Kent for southern migrant hawker, southern emerald
damselfly, water vole, wasp spider, shrill carder bee

36 Chiltern challenge 145
Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire for brown hairstreak, silver-spotted
skipper, glowworm, edible dormouse, Chiltern gentian
37 Webs, willows and waders 149
Suffolk for fen raft spider, willow emerald damselfly,
migrant waders, bittern, otter
38 The Flamborough front 153
East Yorkshire for gannet, sooty shearwater, pomarine skua,
rockpool life, migrant songbirds
39 Blubber and bucks 157
Norfolk for grey seal, harbour sea