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Wildlife in The Tavy, Walkham and Plym Valleys

Kingfisher by Robin Armstrong

(by Robin Armstrong)

Blessed as we are with so many miles of unspoilt riverside habitat, the angler/wildlife enthusiast can be richly rewarded if a little time and patience is exercised.

The lower and broader reaches of the Tavy are home to Otters, Deer, and other mammals such as Foxes and Badgers, although mainly nocturnal Otters can be encountered at almost any time, particularly in the more remote areas, the best opportunity however will fall to the night time sea trout fisher, who whilst quietly waiting for the fish to start moving will often hear a gentle whistling a little like an old man practicing some ancient melody without it actually being in tune, this distinctive sound is the Otters communication call and once heard will never be forgotten.

 Otter at Lopwell by robin Armstrong

Otter (Robin Armstrong)

Deer can also be seen at any time and again stealth is the answer “study to be quiet” as Izaac Walton said and you will be amazed at what can be seen.  Roe is the most common species, but don’t be surprised if a much larger specimen in the form of a Red Deer steps in the river beside you to drink, this happened to one of our members a little while ago and he had time to photograph the animal as it stood no more than 20 yards from him.

 Red Deer at Big Pool by Bob Mountjoy

Dawn Red Deer at Big Pool (Bob Mountjoy)

Bird life in our river valleys is diverse and along with all of the common species we have some rare and elusive birds which may well be encountered by the angler.  In the woods around Grenofen we have an increasing population of breeding pied fly catchers, aided and abetted by the Devon Wildlife Trust this colony is now some 20 years old, in the same area you may well be rewarded with the sight of a lesser spotted woodpecker, this rare little bird will mostly be seen high in the tree canopy.

 Widgeon by Robin Armstrong

Rare Visitor - American Widgeon at Lopwell (Robin Armstrong)

Sparrow Hawks are common and Peregrines too can be seen particularly whilst flighting to and fro to their costal feeding grounds, if you are really lucky you may spot one of our resident Goshawks, these buzzard size raptors look very much like giant sparrow hawks with the one very distinctive identification feature of a bright yellow staring eye.  The female Goshawk is much bigger than the male and browner in appearance.


If you happen to be fishing for Wild Brownies in one of the little forest side streams on the top of the Plym, don’t be amazed if you come across a little group of Wild Boar!  (Yes, I did say Wild Boar!)  One word of warning here, if they happen to have piglets in tow then don’t be tempted to pat them, you could end up being charged by something with the weight of a bulldozer and the speed of a porsche.


Good wildlife watching and happy angling.

Painting by

Robin Armstrong