The Lake District is home to many rare and beautiful species of birds and animals and there are numerous reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). Take a stroll beside one of the rivers or lakes and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher, heron or otter.

The woodland provides habitats for red squirrels, nesting ospreys and wild red deer and the area around Ullswater is a particular favourite with these animals. There are also herds of fallow deer to be seen roaming the parkland of the large country house estates at Dallam Tower, Holker Hall and Levens Hall.

Watch Jim Brown fly his birds of prey during the summer season in the magnificent grounds at Leighton Hall near Carnforth. He will usually fly three or four birds of various types showing differing hunting styles and explaining the vast diversity of avian culture with Owls, Hawks, Buzzards, Falcons, Vultures and Eagles. Jim also offers a range of private activities with his birds including Hawk Walks, Owl Experiences and Avian Alchemy afternoons. Visit his website:

On the coast seals bask off the beaches on Walney Island and gannets feed around Morecambe Bay.

If you want to see more bird life, head to RSPB Leighton Moss near Silverdale. The saltmarsh hosts a large breeding population over the summer months and from the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides, you might see avocets, oystercatchers, redshanks, great-crested grebes, goldeneyes, bittern and otters.

Leighton Moss is the largest reed bed in north-west England and home to many different breeds of birds. You might see deer too, not to mention butterflies aplenty.

Choose from a selection of trails and hides, most of which are suitable for wheelchairs, and get right to the heart of the reed bed. Or take the nature trail alongside two coastal lagoons to see lots of wading and water birds.

Children will love finding out more about the reserve from the displays in the visitor centre and you can also enjoy a home-made meal and a drink in the tea room.

The reserve and visitor centre are open daily all year round (closed 25 December). The reserve is open from dawn to dusk. Find out more at:

There are also a few outstanding animal attractions that make for a perfect day out in the Lake District.

At the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick you can watch Grants zebras roaming the fells and Lars gibbons swinging through the trees! Wander around the 24 acre parkland and you can see an eclectic mix of over 100 species. The magical Bird of Prey flying displays have been a regular feature for many years and families enjoy getting up close and personal to the birds (

The Lakeland Wildlife Oasis at Milnthorpe is home to a rare pair of Snow leopards and their cubs, which were successfully bred in captivity. This lovely little park is not too big to be overwhelming for little children and there are lots of animals to see and watch being fed. The meerkats are always comical to watch and there are reptiles and snakes to hold, amphibians, butterflies, lemurs, marmosets and leaf cutter ants (

Rare breed farm animals can also be seen grazing the landscape with goats, cattle and even alpacas.