Posted 13th June by Peter Byrne
The UK is full of rich and diverse wildlife, but when it comes down to it, how many of us actually know what to look for when we're exploring the fauna and flora?
To find out, Sykes Holiday Cottages quizzed 2,000 UK adults about their relationship with nature. The results found the popularity of holidaying, along with how we spend our time in the countryside and how much we know about the rich and diverse wildlife in Great Britain.
Unsurprisingly, areas of outstanding beauty (such as the Lake District, Cornwall and the Norfolk Coast) are popular holiday destinations, with 73 per cent of those surveyed enjoying staycations. It was also found that out of this group, over 80 per cent have said they have tried to spot a rare animal.
With Brits not needing to travel far to reach the countryside, the poll found we like to make the most of the great outdoors when we get the chance to.
80 per cent of us will make at least one annual visit to a National Park, public park or forest and woods each year, while 10 per cent go every few months. Five per cent will visit one every month, and a particularly hardy three per cent get to enjoy these sites every weekend.
With a walk in the countryside providing a unique way to explore nature, the survey revealed the unique wildlife we are likely to come across when holidaying in the UK.
The most commonly seen rare animal is the red squirrel - its peak population of 3.5 million has rapidly dwindled and now stands at 120,000. 45 per cent of the respondents said they have spotted one.
Coming in second place was the hedgehog with 44 per cent, followed by the tortoiseshell butterfly in third with 33 per cent. The top six was then made up of the roe deer (27 per cent), otter (18 per cent) and snipe (17 per cent).
While the red squirrel is an easy to recognise sight, it doesn't apply to every native animal - for instant, the ghost slug, blue ground beetle or New Forest cicada.
This raises the question - does our unfamiliarity with British wildlife result in a knock-on impact for the next generation? Around 1,200 parents participated in the poll, and over half said their children have never seen a black fox, pine marten or polecat, which are among the rarest creatures in the country.
Just under 50 per cent have said their child has never seen a Cosnard's net-winged beetle, and half of the respondents said they wouldn't be able to spot one for themselves either.
The New Forest cicada and raft spider also went unrecognised.
However, it is still possible to track down some of these rare creatures in their natural habitats while embarking on a UK holiday. For example, the best place to spot Blue Ground Beetles and Sand Lizards will be in Cornwall, while Polecats can be spotted in Wales and Pine Martens in Scotland. There's also a thriving red squirrel population in the Lake District.
With such diverse wildlife easy to see, 88 per cent of the parents questioned said the UK is a great place to educate children on the available wildlife while on holiday.
James Shaw, chief marketing officer at Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: "While we’re a nation of animal lovers, the survey results show that there is so much more to learn about the amazing wildlife in this country."
"A holiday in the UK is a brilliant way of discovering the best that Britain has to offer. Whether you’re by the coast or inland, exploring flora and fauna is great fun for children and grown-ups. And, as we’ve learned, the British Isles is home to so much, just waiting to be discovered."