Renowned for its rugged moorland landscapes, rolling hills, and ancient woodlands, Dartmoor is not only a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts but also a sanctuary for a variety of fascinating wildlife.

Dartmoor offers a remarkable tapestry of biodiversity waiting to be discovered. So grab your binoculars, lace up your boots, and prepare to be enchanted by the diverse array of wildlife that calls Dartmoor home.

Common Wildlife on Dartmoor

  • Birds: meadow pipit, stonechat, cuckoo, ring ouzel, pied flycatcher, wood warbler and common restart.
  • Mammals: otters, hazel dormice, bats, Dartmoor ponies, sheep, cattle.
  • Insects: marsh fritillary butterfly, southern damselfly, narrow-bordered bee hawkmoth, pearl-bordered fritillaries, blue ground beetle and Heckford’s pygmy moth.
  • Reptiles: adders, common lizard
  • River life: Salmon, trout, Palmate newts, frogs, toads and fairy shrimp.

Fingle Woods

Located in the Teign Valley, Fingle Woods is a beautiful woodland area co-managed by the Woodland Trust and National Trust. It provides a habitat for a variety of wildlife, with 36 species of breeding birds and 12 bat species recorded here.

Along the river, see if you can catch sight of kingfishers and otters. In the trees, look out for woodpeckers, thrush, goldcrest, redstart or pied flycatchers. Other creatures, including fallow deer, badgers, hazel dormice and rare butterflies, also call this area home.

Meldon Reservoir

This reservoir near Okehampton attracts a range of waterbirds, including herons. It is also a great spot for fishing, with plenty of brown trout in the water. Keep an eye out for grass snakes and adders while in the area. As with many waterside locations, you’ll also likely see dragonflies and damsel flies near the reservoir.

fishing on dartmoor

Wistman’s Wood

This ancient woodland is famous for its twisted oak trees covered in moss and lichen. It provides a habitat for a variety of woodland birds throughout the year. In the spring and summer, you can spot the spotted flycatcher and restart in the wood area, or stonechat and wheatear in the open moorland surroundings. In the winter, look out for skylarks, meadow pipits and merlins. You may even spot a short-eared owl here!

Apart from a small area of wood that is fenced off, the valley is often inhabited by grazing cattle, sheep and Dartmoor ponies.

Haytor Rocks

Haytor is one of Dartmoor’s most iconic tors and offers breathtaking views. It is also home to a variety of bird species, including, Dartford warblers, skylarks, meadow pipits, wheatear and stonechats. Buzzards can be seen flying overhead, and ravens often congregate in groups in this area.

In the early morning sun, you might spot a reptile, like the common lizard, basking on the rocks of Haytor. Here you might also see a range of rare fritillary butterflies.

Bellever Forest

Located near Postbridge, Bellever Forest is known for its diverse wildlife. The forest was once part of an ancient woodland, with the East Dart River running through it. The mixed woodland is home to roe deer, a range of woodland birds and the rare pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly. Bellever Forest is a place where you can commonly find Dartmoor ponies too.

guide to seeing dartmoor ponies

Burrator Reservoir

Situated on the southwestern edge of Dartmoor, Burrator Reservoir is a haven for birdwatchers. You can spot various species of waterfowl, including goosanders, dippers and tufted ducks. In the surrounding woodland, you may also spy great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, robins, great tits, blue tits and horseshoe bats. Within the reservoir swim rainbow trout, which keen fishers can attempt to catch.

Remember that wildlife sightings can vary depending on the time of year and weather conditions. It’s always a good idea to check with local visitor centres for up-to-date information and guidance on the best places to see wildlife on Dartmoor.

If you want to explore all that Dartmoor has to offer, then Mill End Hotel in Chagford could be the perfect base for your adventures. Our hotel on Dartmoor is close to Fingle Woods, where an incredible array of wildlife can be found.