Depends a lot on what you mean by wildlife, or what kind of wildlife. It will take different lenses to shoot a deer at 100 yards, a goldfinch at 10 feet, or a golden fly at 9 inches.
Then there is the problem of what you mean by macro. A real macro lens takes photos with an exact 1:1 aspect ratio or a 1:2 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio has to be exact, so a scientist can measure the photo and tell exactly how big the bug (or whatever else you shot) is. However, people have been misusing the word for so long that, in common parlance, it has come to mean any extreme closeup photo. Because of this, manufacturers have begun putting the word "macro" on zoom lenses and other lenses that absolutely can not take a real macro photo. True macro lenses do not zoom and the older ones I remember using do not focus; you move the camera until the subject is in focus and that is when the aspect ratio is exact. Any zoom lens that has the word macro on it is not a true macro lens. Zoom lenses do, however, work fine for closeup photography.
Thank you for clarification and advice, by macro I do not mean zoom lenses. But one that is a prime and has no zoom, at the moment they seem like my best option as a lens such as 400mm would be out of my price range. But as you say I can adapt with what I have. Thanks for your help.
Well, true macro lenses don't have much working distance. A 50mm macro lens, for instance, has a working distance of about an inch. A 180mm macro lens lets you get all the way out to 9 inches from your subject though. In most real macro photos of insects, the insects are either lured to the working distance of the lens or they are dead and mounted.
You might be able to squeeze a 300mm out of that amount but don't expect miracles from it. You can get a dirt cheap Tamron for about 150 sovs but I'd hate to think what the quality would be like. Sigma might also have something in that price range, check Amazon for a rough idea. None will give stunning results but it will probably give you good feel for what it take to make the shots you really want to make and what kit you will need when you're ready to step up to the next level.
Not wishing to scare you but you will need a minimum of a 400mm to get good shots, a Canon L 100-400mm will set you back about £1100. When it comes to wildlife you're probably looking further towards 600mm or even 800mm and at those sizes the top bods will happily spend in excess of £8000 on a lens alone. Shooting quality kit is expensive at the best of times, expenses on really good wildlife shooting is crazy money. My wife is probably very happy I have no interest in wildlife shooting, LOL!
I remember looking to lease the 16-35 from lensesforhire.co.uk about 3 months ago and I took a look at the prices for the huge teles and I didn't think they were that bad actually. I think a Canon L 500mm f4 was only something like about £250 a week, plus £25 for each additional day, darn sight cheaper than the £8k-£10k RRP!
It's one of the hardest to work in and also one of the most expensive, bit like sports. Supreme amounts of patience, having an intuition to know what's coming next and capture it, and shed loads of money. Nothing says you have to go out and spend stupid money and there's nothing stopping you shooting wildlife with a £300 lens, just don't set your sights too high. Shooting birds in your garden on a feeder or local urban foxes out the back your yard, it's still wildlife and perfectly possible on a budget. Just don't think you're going be heading for Scotland to shoot eagles swooping majestically down still, calm lochs at dawn, LOL!