‘Last week on a cycle tour I saw Red Kites silhouetted against the sky, a kestrel flash between the clouds and a fox dance across the road before me, chasing panicked grouse into the bushes. There were hares in the fields and a Muntjac deer stood watching me, frozen against the horizon. I ended the week, sat chatting in a beer garden watching bats flutter overhead in the dusk.’ Frances, Tour Guide
England’s many National Parks, nature reserves, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty boast a great abundance and diversity of English wildlife. In stark contrast to many places around the world, they are not out to harm you!
When people think of Cotswolds animals, they think of sheep, cattle and horses. And there are certainly a lot of sheep! Our proud heritage, and the wealth of medieval England, rested on the shoulders of those sheep, and the thick wool these Cotswold Lions provided.
But there is so much more wildlife to be found in our countryside. Only a tour that avoids the main roads and traffic, and which allows you to explore our landscapes not through a bus window – but by bike or on foot – will you be able to fully experience the beauty of our countryside.
Our walking and biking tours take guests along paths, tracks, clifftops, and riverside meadows. Everywhere you look there is wildlife to see – assuming we aren’t chatting away loudly and scaring them away!
The Birds of South West England
Nestled in the hedgerows are sparrows, jackdaws, pheasants, grouse, woodpeckers, robins, tits and too many birds to count. High up above, gliding along silently, we often see pairs of Red Kites, gracefully searching for their prey in the fields below. Hawks, buzzards and kestrels are a common sight, and the rarer Peregrine Falcon – the fastest bird in the world – might just be spotted further South on our tours into Devon and Cornwall.
In the evenings, you may see wonderful swirling murmurations of starlings, or the flash of a swift into a barn roof nest. Thrushes, dippers, wrens and even parakeets grace our skylines, and our guides know where to look and what to listen for.
Wildlife in the Hedgerows
In the bushes and deep in their underground burrows nest the badgers, foxes, rabbits and hedgehogs. Dashing across the fields from the woodlands you might see a majestic Red Deer, England’s largest land mammal. More common are the smaller species of deer known as Muntjac Gliding across the open hills with a speed and grace that will hold your gaze long after it has vanished.
Are there Otters in England?
During the 1950s-70s the otter almost vanished from our countryside due to habitat destruction and polluting pesticides. Happily, due to conservation efforts and a ban on certain chemicals there are now otters back in every single county in England – if you spot one let us know! (and if you can’t, we can take you to the Cotswolds Farm Park to meet the resident otters there!).
To explore the countryside yourselves and find out more about our tours, head to Active England’s Walking or Cycling Tour pages.