If you’re in Devon and want to do a spot of bird watching, crab hunting or are wondering what winter wildlife you can expect to see in the county, take a look below!
If you want to travel to Devon for a nature enthusiasts holiday, please make to check local guidance before you do so and to not travel if you feel unwell or are visiting from a Tier 3 region. When you’re in Devon, please make sure to adhere to social distancing rules, to follow any advice given by accommodation providers and attractions and to always stay within your family bubble.
One of the best places to spot Devon’s winter wildlife is visiting one of the moors. Both Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks can be found in the county and both play host to a variety of different animal and bird species.
Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll be sure to see the wild ponies that live on both Dartmoor and Exmoor. Exmoor also has a population of wild goats that can be seen around the Lynton and Lynmouth areas and particularly around the Valley of the Rocks. Both National Parks are also home to a number of birds including ravens and buzzards that can be seen all year around.
Another great spot for finding wildlife is at one of the region’s heathlands. There are several areas of Devon that are covered in heathland, including the nature reserves at Chudleigh Knighton Heath, Bovey Heathfield and the Venn Ottery Reserve. For the bird spotters, this area is rife with Dartford Warblers and Stone Chats and if you’re lucky, you might even notice a few lizards and slow worms. Although these, like the native adder tend to hide during the colder months. The heathland areas are home to over 30 different species of butterfly, so keep your eyes peeled, especially on warmer days.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll love a winter woodland walk and if that is the case, you’ll find plenty here too. Dunsford Nature Reserve, Andrew’s Wood and the Dart Valley offer wonderful woodland walks. Plymbridge Woods and the wooded areas of Dartmoor are other great choices.
Obviously, you’ll find a host of tree life in the woods and at this time of year there is something very ethereal about them as they lose their leaves. If you’re quiet and keep an eye out, you might be able to spot roe and fallow deer as well as squirrels, woodpeckers, nuthatches and evidence of badgers. In the evenings, there are brown long eared and pipistrelle bats flying around too.
One of the most popular and elusive of Devon’s wild residents is the otter. Otters live along several of Devon’s rivers, but you’ll need to be very lucky and very quiet to spot one. If you’re near the River Otter, you might also be lucky enough to catch sight of one of the beavers that have been reintroduced to the region.
The rivers of the Axe Valley hosts the county’s water voles while all the rivers around the region will have kingfishers, dippers and wagtails for you to look out for, as well as the odd fish that might venture too close to the surface. This time of year many of the more colourful creatures will be hidden away, but there are still plenty of opportunities to spot something a little unusual.
While a trip to the coast in the summer means you’re more likely to see dolphins and seals, there are a few stragglers that make an appearance in the winter months. Along the Jurassic Coast, it is often possible to see a loan grey seal known as Sammy by the locals.
Rockpooling is a popular activity in the coastal areas and you can find a selection of crabs, stranded jelly fish and fascinating creatures living in the seaweed. You might also find shells, cuttlefish bones and mermaid’s purses.
In Exeter or Plymouth? You don’t need to feel left out, both cities have plenty of urban wildlife for you to spot including foxes, hawks and more. All of Devon’s larger towns and cities have green spaces, waterways and other places where you can find wildlife from birds, squirrels, hedgehogs and interesting bugs as well as flora and fauna.
Where are your favourite places to find wildlife in Devon at winter? You can let us know your suggestions on Twitter and Facebook.