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Grab your binoculars and cameras - it’s time for your little David Attenborough’s to track down some the rarest animals in the UK and no, I don’t mean at the zoo 😉. The British Isles have so many different species of animals, both on land and in the sea. From many types of deer that you can find all over the country to dolphins frolicking in the sea. As a country, we have some very elusive and rare animals that you have to look out very closely for, but lucky for you we'll tell you where you have the best chance to see them.

Let's start in the skies!



Golden eagle

Image source: moorlandassociation.org

The golden eagle can be found year round in the remote glens of the North and West of Scotland. They have some very large territories which means they often won't stick to a small area. You'll be able to see them soaring high in the sky, which is where your binoculars will come in handy! You may also be lucky enough to find a nest but they are very difficult to spot as the golden eagle builds them on rocky cliff faces and high up in trees. You definitely won't mistake a golden eagle when you see one as they are dark brown with a golden head and neck.

When to see them: All year round

Best places to see them:
Scotland - North and west of Scotland, particularly Ben Mor Coigach



White-tailed Eagle

Image source: resipole.co.uk

The white-tailed Eagle is our largest bird of prey and is sometimes known as the 'sea eagle'. Sadly, the white-tailed eagle went extinct in the UK during the early 20th century, due to illegal killing. However, in the 1970's they were reintroduced from Norway and we now have just over 100 breeding pairs. Found on the Isle of Mull and around the West coast of Scotland, spotting the white-tailed eagle is a must if you're in these parts.

When to see them: All year round

Best places to see them:
Scotland - Isle of Mull and the West coast of Scotland



Beavers

Moving back down to earth, the UK once again has wild beavers roaming around and building dams. Originally hunted to extinction 500 years ago, it wasn't until about 10 years ago that they were reintroduced. There are now more than 400 beavers in the the UK. Some are living wild whilst others have been reintroduced into areas where they are fenced off from the general population. Beavers are most active at dawn and dusk. Your best bet for seeing one is to head to where they are known to be active and sit quietly listening for any splashing or gnawing sounds. Despite their small numbers, there are a number of places where you can find them. We've listed the places you can see them in the wild below, but you can also see them in fenced off areas in Kent, Essex and the Forest of Dean in England.

When to see them: All year round

Best places to see them:
England - The river Otter in Devon
Scotland - Knapdale, the Tay



Red Squirrels

Image source: britishredsquirrel.org

It's time to crane your necks up to the trees to find one our native red squirrels. After the introduction of the eastern grey squirrels from North America in the late 19th century, the number of red squirrels have dramatically decreased making it much harder to find them. Red squirrels can, however, be seen all year round as they do not hibernate. You'll usually find them in coniferous woods, especially around hazelnut trees as they love to feast on the nuts. The red squirrel is unmistakable with its reddish brown coat, busy tail and large ear tuffs.

When to see them: All year round

Best places to see them:
England - Cumbria, Isle of White, Lake District and Northumberland
Scotland - Perthshire



Wildcats

Image source: highlandwildlifepark.org.uk

Last, but definitely not least, we have one of our rarest and most endangered mammals, the wildcat.  Unfortunately, they can now only be seen in small parts of the Scottish Highlands. They look similar to a very large tabby cat but with a fluffier, blunt tail, which in theory should make them easy to spot, but they are practically nocturnal making them difficult to find. Like most cats, they don't like to go out in bad weather so if it's raining don't expect to see one and grab a hot chocolate instead.

Although this is slightly cheating, the Highland Wildlife Park in the Cairngorms has several Scottish Wildcats, along with a vast array of other amazing creatures, so if you really want to see a wildcat we'd suggest heading there.

When to see them: All year round

Best places to see them:
Scotland - Highlands