wildlife watching in devon – where and when to go


With a mix of coast and country, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and three National Parks, Devon is a haven for wildlife and many people visit the beautiful county to spend some time amongst nature and spot some of the more elusive residents and visitors. The towering cliffs of the coast, secluded bays, ancient hedgerows and farming land, as well as the rivers and lakes, is a landscape perfect for an array of fascinating creatures.

 

Here Quality Unearthed we like to take the time to appreciate the wonder of the natural environment and believe that spending an hour or a week can not only be a fantastic way to spend your time but can also improve your mental and physical well-being. By slowing down the pace of life, watching birds soaring overhead, a butterfly flicker between flowers or the dramatic sight of salmon leaping against the flow of the river, you’re likely to feel your stresses lessen and relaxation overcome you.

Otters, Dart Estuary

Otter in a river in Devon

Devon has long been an area associated with otters, with the famous book and film, Tarka the Otter, written by Henry Williamson and published in 1927, describing the life of these river dwellers along the River Taw and River Torridge in North Devon. Although the number of otters in the wild has fallen, the county is still a hot spot for those wanting to catch a glimpse. Otters tend to fish on the receding tide, when their prey is more active, so this is often considered one of the best times to view them in action. They’re also known to be ‘creatures of habit’ and are likely to return to the same spots or follow the same routes.

Otters can be spotted all year round in Devon, both during the day and night.

 

Grey Seals, Mew Stone off the River Dart

Grey Seal in Devon

The River Dart is a haven for wildlife and its celebrated across the county for the abundance of creatures known to make its waters and surrounding areas their home. The bacteria-rich expanses of mud are life-giving and support the large number of fishes, birds and other animals here. From dolphins, sea bass and trout, crabs, oysters and more, this really is a wildlife hot spot! But many people visit this stunning area for a glimpse of the seals bathing on the Mew Stone.

You can see the Grey Seals all year at the Mewstone, but the breeding season is during the winter months. They’re best seen from land, either Froward Point or Peartree Point, this also reduces any disturbances.

Atlantic Salmon Leaping, Watersmeet

salmon leaping

The salmon season runs from March to September and during this time, you can witness parts of their epic journey as they make their way upstream to spawn. The salmon have been known to dive out of the water at Watersmeet, facing huge boulders, fast flowing waters and several waterfalls!

Atlantic Salmon can be seen from March to September, fishing for them during this time is not permitted and all caught must be returned to the river alive.

Red Deer, Simonsbath

stags at sunset in Exmoor

Image credit: Mike Davison

An icon amongst the landscape, the Red Deer is one of the most majestic creatures on the list. Surviving amongst the harsh scenery since pre-historic periods and one of the last remaining lines of the native breed, they are one of the wildest and most timid large animals in the county. There is estimated to be around three thousand wild deer on Exmoor, so the chance of sighting a heard is considerably high! Carves are born in June and July, so if you’re keen to see the little ones, this is the best time to go but, what is often considered the most spectacular time to witness them, is during the rut. In October, the hills of the moors come alive with the sound of the stags, ‘belling’ and trying to appear more attractive than his rivals.

Red Deer can be seen all year round, with calves in June and July, and the rut during October.

 

Have we missed any of your favourite wildlife spotting locations? We’d love to hear where you go to see some of these incredible creatures, in the hope of catching a glimpse too! Get in touch with us via our social media channels!

 

If you’re thinking of making a visit to Devon, to spot some of the wonders of the natural world, then why not take a look at our stunning range of Devon glamping options? A space where you can continue to appreciate nature even after you’ve retreated in from the great outdoors!

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Devon Environment Nature Outdoors

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