Are you a professional twitcher? Or have you recently started to notice Britain’s birds and want a chance to learn more? Then you have come to the right place! Devon is a haven for bird watchers and wildlife lovers alike, there are a huge array of fascinating British birds to see in their natural habitat across the county, including the South West’s largest population of puffins!
There are a host of different species of bird that call Devon home, from the sea birds you’ll find by the coast to larger birds like pheasants in the countryside and birds of prey, including hawks, buzzards and more, all alongside the smaller more recognisable birds you’ll see in your gardens. Depending on what you want to see, will depend on where you need to go. Here are some of our best spots for birdwatching across Devon and the birds you’re likely to spot there.
Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, Dawlish, South Devon
Warren Rd, Dawlish EX7 0NG
This pretty nature reserve is famous for its birdlife and is easily accessible from one of the town’s beaches. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest and falls within an internationally important wetland centre – not only that but it is also a specially protected area under the EC Birds Directive! This is a great location for those that want to find waders and wildfowl, as there is a vast population of both these birds here, as well as a couple of others you can spot throughout the reserve.
Haldon Forest Park, Kennford, Exeter
Bullers Hill, Kennford, Exeter EX6 7XR
Haldon Forest is a popular spot for visitors because of the enormous range of activities available for those that love being outdoors, with walks, cycleways and other adventures to be had. It’s also a paradise for anyone wanting to spot birds of prey – there are sparrow hawks, buzzards, kestrels, peregrines, hobbys and goshawks living in the region and you might also be lucky enough to catch sight of an osprey or red kite. While you’re here make sure to visit the Bird of Prey Viewpoint, it has a lovely view over the Teign Valley and is an excellent place to see the birds swooping for prey.
Dartmoor National Park
As you might expect from the National Park, there is plenty of diverse landscape to explore and plenty of different species to uncover. Over the years, over 250 different species of bird have been recorded here, so if you’re looking for a wide range of breeds, this is a good place to visit. Here, you can find birds like Red Grouse and Golden Plover, as well as birds of prey, ravens and more. Haytor on Dartmoor offers some great walks where you can find birds along the way, including swallows and skylarks, start off at the Tor and head along one of the old tramways.
Lundy Island, North Devon
Lundy Island is managed by both the Landmark Trust and the National Trust and is a truly wonderful destination for nature lovers – it is possible to stay on the island, but be aware that there is no electricity and while there are a number of activities available, they can only be done with the permission of the island manager. The whole island is a conservation area and as such, is teaming with wildlife from mammals to marine life to birds. It is home to the South West’s largest puffin population, as well as a host of other seabirds, including auks, gulls and Manx Shearwaters. Land birds you can spot include ravens, skylarks and pipets as well as a variety of migrating birds and birds of prey.
Slapton Ley Nature Reserve, nr Kingsbridge, South Devon
This nature reserve in South Devon features the largest natural freshwater lake in the South West of England, so you’ll find plenty of waders and other water birds here. Warblers can be spotted here all year around and is a well-known breeding ground for Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Ducks and Coots, as well as swallows, so there are plenty of different species to see. There is a hide as well as viewing platforms throughout the reserve and easy access to the beach, where in the colder months you can often see Grebes and Divers without venturing into the reserve.
Seaton Wetlands, Seaton, East Devon
Nearest postcode: EX12 2SP
Located in East Devon, Seaton Wetlands is made up of four different sites, Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh, each one offering different hides and viewing spots for seeing the local wildlife. Due to the varied landscape, you’ll also see different species throughout the wetlands. Seaton Marsh is freshwater and is home to several wildfowl and waders, while Black Hole Marsh has more ducks, kingfishers and oyster catchers. Little egrets and larger ducks can be found at Colyford Common.
Berry Head Nature Reserve, Brixham, South Devon
Gillard Road, Brixham TQ5 9AP
This is a popular choice for walkers and photographers and is famous for being one of South Devon’s best loved beauty spots, so it might be one of the busier places on this list, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid a trip here. From the headland, you’ll likely see Cirl Bunting, while further along the cliffs, you will spot Guillemots, Fulmar and Kittiwakes, especially in spring when they start building their nests. You might even be lucky enough to spot a puffin or two among the migrating birds. This is also a great place to see dolphins, porpoises and seals during the summer from the top of the headland.
Watersmeet, Lynmouth, North Devon
Watersmeet Rd, Lynmouth EX35 6NT
This wooded gorge is managed by the National Trust so you can guarantee some lovely refreshments at the tea room while out and about looking for birds. The fast-flowing river attracts dippers and wagtails, while further along the gorge you can see birds of prey and larger sea birds
If you have any other suggestions for good birdwatching spots, make sure to let us know! You can get in touch with us on Facebook and Twitter.