Can you spot the difference between a moorhen and a coot? Are you able to recognise animal tracks or spot the opening to a badger’s sett? If binoculars form a vital part of your camping kit, then you’ll love these parks. Either located close to bird sanctuaries or wildlife reservations, or boasting local sightings of rare breeds, these parks are perfect for bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts.
Disserth Caravan and Camping Park, Powys
With resident kingfisher and heron competing with anglers for their share of the day’s catch, buzzards and red kites regularly gracing the thermals over the park, occasional peregrine sightings and hedgerows offering abode to a wealth of smaller birds, Disserth is a birdwatcher’s delight. Otters are frequently sighted on the river Ithon and on at least one occasion, an otter has had the audacity to run across the park in broad daylight, much to the delight of onlookers. On a cloudless summer evening, the unfolding night sky is a joy to behold without white light pollution to interrupt the spectacle. Wake the following morning to joyful bird song, and repeat.
Loch Ken Holiday Park, Castle Douglas
Loch Ken is a central location for exploring the nature and wildlife on offer in the Galloway Forest Park. Very popular among bird watchers, the park is situated adjacent to the Ken Dee RSPB Nature Reserve where the Parton Red Kite Heritage trail begins just outside the park, leading to a fabulous view point where there have been many sighting of the majestic red kites, osprey, buzzards and more recently a Golden Eagle. Just a short drive away is the Ballymack Hill Farm where you can see red kites feeding. Other birds to look out for include the nuthatch, willow tit, great-spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, sparrowhawk, barn owl, red grouse, black grouse, oyster catcher, greylag and heron. But the sky here isn’t only bountiful during the day; right on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park, the UK’s first Dark Sky Park, Loch Ken is a prime location for astronomers and those keen on star gazing – on a clear night, campers can enjoy an unforgettable view of a star lit night sky.
Polruan Holidays, Fowey
The endless stretches of coastline, craggy coves, woodlands and river estuaries surrounding Polruan Holidays provide fabulous opportunities for birdwatching on this stretch of the Cornish coastline. With an enviable reputation for spotting rare breed and species, this is especially the case in late summer and Autumn when migrant birds are blown off course as they cross the Atlantic Ocean. Around Fowey you can find wading birds such as lapwing, snipe and curlew; riverbank birds such as kingfishers and heron; sea cliff puffins and the return of the official county animal of Cornwall, the Cornish Clough. Birds of prey are a common sight too and you’re likely to see buzzards, kestrel and falcons soaring on high.
Halse Farm and Westermill Farm, Exmoor
Exmoor is famous for the endangered Exmoor pony, and with direct access from Halse Farm onto Winsford Hill, you are sure to see these beautiful creatures in their historic natural habitat. Similarly situated in the heart of Exmoor is Westermill Farm, a family run working farm a secluded valley. Visit the nearby Exmoor Pony Centre where you can meet ponies at first hand and perhaps go for a ride. If you’re lucky, you might be able to join supporters of Exmoor National Park ‘Wild Watch 2017’ and help monitor cuckoo sightings. Despite a national decline across the UK, cuckoo populations in Exmoor are thriving. Exmoor is also home to golden ringed dragonfly, dormouse, kestrel, Atlantic grey seal, red kite, grey wagtail red admiral, adder and free bumblebee.
Holme Valley Camping and Caravan Park, Holmfirth
Holme Valley works tirelessly to keep the running of the park as green as possible. Promoting camping as an ecologically sound way of holidaying, they believe that guests, having chosen to holiday in the outdoors, should be able to enjoy the wildlife they are lucky to have on and about the park; from the squirrels in the woods to the ducks on the small lake, and herons, dippers and kingfishers on the river. Having been awarded the David Bellamy Gold Award for 18 consecutive years, Holme Valley was also awarded the David Bellamy Special Distinction Award.
Silver Sands Holiday Park, Lizard
Since 2005, Silver Sands Holiday Park has gained the coveted David Bellamy Gold Award. Granted in recognition of the park's commitment to the preservation of the Cornish natural, the park encourage wildlife such as bats and badgers by use of low-level solar lighting around the park, and allowing hedges to go undisturbed during the nesting season. Also many of the plants are specifically friendly to moths, butterflies and other insects. The Lizard Peninsuula is renowned for spotting rare breed migrant birds and observing wildlife and wildflowers too.
Bingham Grange, Bridport
The Dorset Coast around Bingham Grange is a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers. Rivers, beaches, heaths, hills and vales provide home to a variety of flora and fauna, with much being done by conservation trusts to protect and encourage these treasured habitats. With squirrels, badgers, otters mink, butterflies, kingfishers, adders, kestrel, foxes, deer, there’s so much to see. Many different birds are attracted to the varied environments at RSPB Lodmore (large reedbed, open water, saltmarsh, wet grassland and bushes), and at RSPB Rapidole Lake you’ll see well known birds such as house sparrows, finches and robins alongside rarer breeds like Ceeti’s warblers and bitterns; it’s an ideal site for beginners and experienced birdwatchers alike.
Rowlands Wait, Bere Regis
Rowlands Wait is a peaceful, tranquil countryside park with a lot of character, fine mature trees, mown grass and thick hedgerows. Its idyllic location and natural environment provide home to an abundance of wildlife of all shapes and sizes. You can frequently see rabbits running around the caravans and children’s play area, you might catch glimpse of foxes or a snuffling badger, and if you are up bright and early you may even catch the deer eating the flowers! Venture into the surrounding woods and heathland for the opportunity to see many rare breed birds and animals.
Tanner Farm Park, Marden
Tanner Farm is committed to conservation and caring for the environment and wildlife has always been a key vision for the park’s development. Its 36 acres are a haven for wildlife and wild flowers; in late spring guests are treated to the thousands of bluebells in the woodland area and in the summer the beautiful wildflower border flourishes to encourage bees and butterflies. Having held a David Bellamy Award Gold Award since 2001, you’re likely to see a host of wildlife within the park and on the numerous beautiful, countryside walks that can be accessed directly from the campsite. You can follow footpaths around rural fields, up to the woods or down to the river or do a combination of all three. If you do the river walk, look out for the kingfishers and if you are very lucky you might see a mink. The park’s farming history is upheld with a collection of pigs, sheep and a pony to encourage children to gain firsthand experience of animals in their natural environment. The Easter holidays are a family favourite as the piglets and orphan lambs arrive; one of the highlights for guests of all ages is the opportunity to bottle feed the lambs, a memorable once in a life time experience.