22 Creatures to spot from your picnic rug

PUBLISHED: 14:00 07 September 2016

Grey Seal

Grey Seal


If you’re dining outdoors in Devon you’ll never be alone. Here are 22 creatures to look out for from your picnic rug

Exmoor Red Deer StagsExmoor Red Deer Stags

On the coast

Take a picnic hamper down to the seaside and look for these five critters:

Jellyfish: No, not the ‘killer jellyfish from hell’ that featured on the front of a national tabloid in July, but the less evil compass jellyfish, which eats plankton (not people)

Crab: Peer into a rock pool and you’ll soon see one of these little nippers. The edible crab, as the name suggests, makes a great sandwich.

Herring gull: The unmistakeable soundtrack to a seaside holiday. Don’t give him your pasty or chips, you’ll just encourage him.

Avocet: The RSPB uses the avocet as its logo and the charity runs regular avocet cruises on the Exe estuary so you can get a close up view of these beautiful waders.

Starfish: look on the north and south coasts for the bloody Henry starfish, a colourful character often a pinky-red or purple.


On the moors

Walking boots on, binoculars at the ready, look out for:

Dartmoor ponies: These hardy ponies thrive on rugged Dartmoor, grazing the moor and thus helping to maintain a wide variety of habitats.

Deer: Ask a local guide to take you onto Exmoor to see the spectacular herds of red deer, especially during the rutting season

Lark: Get up with the lark and enjoy their incredible song flight during spring and early summer.

Buzzard: Devon’s most numerous raptor. Its county population has been estimated to be in excess of 1,600 pairs.

Adder: AKA viper, this snake is poisonous and a bite will need medical attention. They love to sunbathe. Best not to disturb this one.


In the sea

Take a cruise from one of Devon’s harbours to spot these creatures

Dolphin: always a crowd pleaser, leaping from the waves in the wake of boats

Harbour porpoise: the UK’s smallest cetacean species. Keep an eye out for them in inshore waters

Grey seal: curious seals will often pop their heads out of the water to see what’s going on ashore. Lundy island is a great place to watch them basking on rocks at low tide

Basking shark: these giants look alarming with their enormous gaping mouths, but don’t worry, they are vegetarians.

Mackerel: a beautifully- marked fish, they swim in large shoals and hunt for prey in our coastal waters

By the river

Sit on the river bank with a sandwich and a thermos and you might be lucky enough to spot some of these:

Dipper: look for them perched on boulders next to fast-flowing streams and rivers. Their distinctive bobbing action gives them their name.

Otter: The rivers Taw and Torridge were the home of fictional otter Tarka and the elusive mammals can still be seen there and on other Devon waterways.

Beaver: OK, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll see a beaver while having a picnic – but if it’s a very late picnic and you’re on the banks of the River Otter, you might just strike lucky.

Kingfisher: The flash of electric blue is usually the sign a kingfisher has just shot past and patience may give you the chance to watch one sitting on a branch waiting for lunch to swim underneath.

Little egret: This small white heron dines on even smaller fish, amphibians, large insects and a variety of other small animals.

In the garden

It’s summer - sit back with a glass of wine and watch the wildlife in your own back yard

Hedgehog: if you see one of these in the late evening at home be glad - they’ll clear up lots of slugs. Buy a bag of hedgehog food from your local garden centre and make them feel welcome

Slow worm: not especially slow and not a worm. It looks like a snake but is really a lizard with no legs. Harmless to humans and a welcome sight in any garden.They can shed their tails to escape predators. Clever.

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