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