Bradt's popular guidebook suggests inspiring itineraries for 52 unforgettable British wildlife-watching breaks, stretching from the Isles of Scilly to northern Scotland – each perfectly timed for every week of the year. Thoroughly updated to reflect Britain's ever-changing natural history, this second edition integrates the latest information on the country's most thrilling wildlife experiences, suggests new target species and showcases fabulous new locations.
Say it's February and you want to watching otters. Or May: time for spring flowers and bewitching butterflies. Or July, and you fancy marvelling at dragonflies. Or October: the height of bird migration. Whenever in the year you get a chance to escape, this book suggests 48 hours' worth of brilliant wildlife-watching – perfect for staycations, whether as a weekend or part of a longer holiday.
52 Wildlife Weekends suggests a year's worth of short breaks celebrating the full range of Britain's most exciting wildlife, from tiny silver-spotted skipper butterflies to gargantuan basking sharks, and from seabird skyscrapers to ostentatious orchids. Covering more than 40 counties or regions, this unique guide offers engaging descriptions, detailed directions (including grid references and postcodes), accommodation suggestions, and assessments of accessibility and (new for this edition) child-friendliness, plus 180 mouth-watering colour photographs.
Find out how, where and when to track down such thrilling creatures as beavers and basking sharks, eagles and otters, dolphins and dragonflies, glow worms and grey seals. Why not open the New Year on a real-life wild goose chase in the Inner Hebrides? Or make a spring pilgrimage to Yorkshire see truly wild daffodils? Or experience underwater life by peering into rivers for rare fish in Powys, snorkelling in Dorset, or rock-pooling in Devon? Or gawp at starling murmurations, shape-shifting through the autumnal sky, in Suffolk or Somerset?
Combining the very best of travel and wildlife guides, and covering both well-known spectacles and less familiar species, Bradt's 52 Wildlife Weekends has something for everyone – wildlife experts and novice ecotourists alike.
1 Wild goose chases and whisky chasers Argyll & Bute for barnacle goose, Greenland white-fronted goose, otter, goose barnacle and golden eagle
2 Fens, meres and washes Cambridgeshire for Chinese water deer, Bewick's swan, whooper swan, hen harrier, bittern
3 Larking about Hampshire for red deer, roe deer, wood lark, great grey shrike, hawfinch
4 Seal of approval Durham for harbour seal, grey seal, long-eared owl, waxwing, snow bunting
5 Seaduck go Forth! Fife & East Lothian for velvet scoter, long-tailed duck, Slavonian grebe, white-tailed eagle, sea buckthorn bracket
6 Touting for Tarka Northumberland for otter, red squirrel, Mediterranean gull, willow tit, twite
7 Whirling waders, gathering geese, aerial attacks Lancashire for otter, whooper swan, pink-footed goose, starling roost, scarlet elf cup
8 Kite-flying and Welsh witches Powys for red kite, raven, dipper, witches beard, Wilson's filmy fern
9 Dark Peak, white hare Derbyshire for mountain hare, peregrine, curlew, raven, red grouse
10 From rifles to Ratty Greater London & Kent for water vole, water shrew, grey heron colony, long-eared owl, rook roost
11 Serpents of the sandlings Suffolk for adder, Mediterranean gull, Dartford warbler, brown hare, mossy stonecrop
12 Daffs in t'dale North Yorkshire for wild daffodil, red grouse, goshawk, gannet, kittiwake
13 Wailing heath chicken run Suffolk & Norfolk for stone-curlew, stoat, grape hyacinth, Breckland speedwell, fingered speedwell
14 Sand and deliver! Devon for sand crocus, sand lizard, narrow-headed ant, rockpool species, cirl bunting
15 A rabble of reptiles Dorset for eight species of reptiles, natterjack toad, sika, early spider orchid, emperor moth
16 Snakes and snake's-heads Gloucestershire & Wiltshire for wild boar, adder, goshawk, pied flycatcher, snake's-head fritillary
17 Highland spring, famous grouse Highland for black grouse, ptarmigan, osprey, Kentish glory, pine marten
18 Dukes and ladies Kent for Duke of Burgundy, dew moth, lady orchid, bluebell, shingle plants
19 Fantastic fish - and fishers Camarthenshire & Powys for sea lamprey, brook lamprey, badger, osprey, wood warbler
20 Pembrokeshire parrots, mystical Manxies Pembrokeshire for Manx shearwater, puffin, gannet, bluebell, red campion
21 Does the lady's slipper fit? Yorkshire, Cumbria & Lancashire for lady's slipper orchid, coralroot orchid, pearl-bordered fritillary, white-spotted sable, natterjack toad
22 Machair marvels, streaming skuas Outer Hebrides for machair plants, corncrake, breeding waders, long-tailed skua, moss carder bee
23 Fluttering by flowers Hampshire & Wiltshire for sword-leaved helleborine, musk orchid, fairy shrimp, argent & sable, pearl-bordered fritillary
24 Easy, tiger South Wales for fen orchid, round-leaved wintergreen, scarlet tiger, beachcomber beetle, dune tiger beetle
25 Swallowtails and amazons Norfolk for swallowtail, Norfolk hawker, scarce chaser, natterjack toad, nightjar
26 The purple empire Hampshire for purple emperor, southern damselfly, nail fungus, lesser butterfly orchid, nightjar
27 Butterfly high season Cumbria for high brown fritillary, mountain ringlet, large heath, dune helleborine, dark-red helleborine
28 Island intensity Northumberland for Arctic tern, roseate tern, puffin, dune helleborine, ballan wrasse
29 There be dragons. and dolphins Highland for northern emerald, northern damselfly, bumblebee robberfly, creeping lady's-tresses, bottlenose dolphin
30 Snorkelling and skippers Dorset for corkwing wrasse, Lulworth skipper, small red damselfly, heath tiger beetle, Dorset heath
31 Shark! Cornwall & Devon for blue shark, basking shark, beaver, greater horseshoe bat, silver-studded blue
32 Basking on the Lizard Cornwall for Cornish heath, bog asphodel, chough, basking shark, red-veined darter
33 Mad Manx and mountains Ceredigion & Gwynedd for Manx shearwater, osprey, sand lizard, marsh helleborine, feral goat
34 Pelagic paradise Isles of Scilly for Wilson's storm-petrel, great shearwater, common dolphin, grey seal, rockpool life
35 Dragonfly delights Essex & Kent for southern migrant hawker, scarce emerald damselfly, shrill carder bee, great crested newt, water vole
36 Chiltern challenge Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire for edible dormouse, brown hairstreak, silver-spotted skipper, glowworm, Chiltern gentian
37 Webs, willows and wanderers Suffolk for fen raft spider, willow emerald damselfly, convolvulus hawk-moth, badger, polecat/ferret
38 The Flamborough front East Yorkshire for gannet, sooty shearwater, pomarine skua, red-backed shrike, rockpool life
39 Blubber and bucks Norfolk for harbour seal, fallow deer, bearded tit, yellow-browed warbler, dune waxcap
40 Winner takes all Suffolk for red deer rut, otter, bearded tit, bittern, little stint
41 Scilly season Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, for migrant birds, lesser white-toothed shrew, basking shark, prickly stick-insect, crimson speckled
42 Don't spurn the chance East Yorkshire for migrant songbirds, estuary waders, long-eared owl, woodcock
43 Estuarine exodus Cheshire & Conwy for pygmy shrew, harvest mouse, feral goat, short-eared owl, chough
44 Leap of faith North Yorkshire, Cumbria & Lancashire for the salmon run, red deer, red squirrel, dipper, fungi
45 Yew and yours Sussex for huge yews, fly agaric, water shrew, water vole, brent goose
46 Otterly fabulous Argyll & Bute for pine marten, otter, red squirrel, golden eagle, white-tailed eagle
47 Weekly pupdate Lincolnshire for pupping grey seal, brent goose, knot, peregrine, Lapland bunting
48 Murmuration Somerset, Avon & Gloucestershire for starling roost, Eurasian white-fronted goose, Bewick's swan, crane, Cheddar whitebeam
49 Hundreds and thousands Norfolk for pink-footed goose, whooper swan, wader spectacular, shore lark, snow bunting
50 Hoary and holy Northumberland for pale-bellied brent goose, long-tailed duck, common scoter, Slavonian grebe, waxwing
51 Ruling the roost Norfolk for starling roost, rook roost, crane, Chinese water deer, grey seal
52 Capital birding Greater London for red deer, black-necked grebe, bittern, jack snipe, ring-necked parakeet roost
James Lowen has been immersed in all aspects of natural history since he was able to walk – his love for nature was initially inspired by a chance encounter as a toddler with a buzzard amid South Devon's leafy lanes. Upon fledging into adult plumage, James flirted with careers as a tropical conservationist and UK diplomat, before becoming an award-winning wildlife and travel writer, editor, guide and photographer. Upon his return to Britain from several years leading wildlife tours in South America and Antarctica, James had an irrepressible desire to renew his relationship with British nature. His books 52 Wildlife Weekends and A Summer of British Wildlife (winner, Travel Guidebook of the Year, 2016) are the result. James's 11 other books include Bradt's 52 European Wildlife Weekends (winner, Travel Guidebook of the Year, 2018) and Much Ado About Mothing (a travel narrative longlisted for the 2022 James Cropper Wainwright Prize).
"[...] 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!"
– Alan Tilmouth, Thursday 19th September 2013, www.birdguides.com
"[...] The '52 weekends’ format is a bit of a constraint, with which the author copes pretty well. Personally, I'd like more of my weekends in the spring and summer and fewer in autumn and winter, please. Why can't we have three-day (and sunny) weekends from May-August and a few one-day weekends in autumn and winter to balance things up? If you want, like l do, to see Southern Damselfly, Basking Shark, Duke of Burgundy, and Breckland Speedwell, then this book will remind you when to start looking and where to try. This is a good reminder that Britain has plenty of wildlife if you go to the right places, at the right times. If it encourages a few more 'staycations’ then the air miles saved might offset the extra miles driven by naturalists clutching this book and turning up at the same places at the same times."
– Dr Mark Avery, British Wildlife 25(2), pp. 150, December 2013