ON the lookout for winter wildlife this winter? You’re not alone. Research by the RSPCA and Thortful has found that Google searches for ‘wildlife walk’ are up by 240% in the past 12 months, suggesting Brits are looking more and more for the best places to spot wildlife this winter.

Just to add to that, Thortful and the RSPCA also revealed that according to TikTok figures, Dartmoor National Park is the most popular location in the UK to spot wildlife.

Dartmoor’s most prized animal, the Dartmoor pony, is at the top of many wildlife walkers’ list of must-see animals in Britain. Although not wild animals, they can be seen on the moor, along with rare wild animals like otters and moorland birds like skylarks and snipe. The location has over 5.4 million views on the hashtag: ‘#dartmoornationalpark’ on TikTok.

‘#dawlishwarren’ also came in fourth, catching the eye of people over 1.5 million times, primarily for its migratory waterbirds.

If you are looking to spot wildlife this winter, the RSPCA has recently put together some of their tips on things to bear in mind:

1. Be careful when walking your dog near wildlife

When out on a walk with your dog in the countryside, please be mindful of the wildlife nearby, and even though you might not be able to see them if they’re hidden away in bushes or hedgerows, dogs can still sniff out thanks to their fantastic sense of smell. Please ensure your dog doesn’t disturb them, as this could cause parents to abandon their young or be chased and seriously injure the dog. If you can’t avoid areas with livestock and wildlife, please keep your dog on the lead at all times in these areas, and obey any signs asking you to keep away from wildlife and livestock.

2. Don’t litter whilst out and about

It goes without saying, but any litter left around can be extremely dangerous to animals as well as bad for the environment. If there are no bins along your walk, please keep your rubbish with you until you come across one or until you get home.

3. Have a read of the countryside code

It’s important to be mindful of UK wildlife laws and the countryside code if you’re looking to spot some wildlife this winter. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects wild birds and other animals across England and Wales. Scotland has its own law, the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011. Wherever you’re going, it’s worth looking into the countryside code before you set off on a Winter walk, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code

Other areas around the UK that made the list can be found here: https://www.thortful.com/blog/winter-wildlife-hotspots/

Evie Button, Scientific Officer in the wildlife department at RSPCA says, ‘It's really encouraging to see that people are so interested in finding places to go and watch wildlife this winter. Although winter is traditionally a quieter time for much of our wildlife, there are still many animals around for us to enjoy watching; including large numbers of birds which you can only see in the UK at this time of year as they migrate from other countries to spend the winter here. From starling murmurations to gatherings of geese, you can find incredible wildlife spectacles all around the country.’

A spokesperson at thortful comments on the study, ‘It’s understandable why so many of us are keen to spot wildlife, and as part of our partnership with the RSPCA, we were keen to provide some inspiration on the best places to do so! We hope this study inspires you to get outside this winter and admire the beauty that the UK has to offer, from its wild animals to its breathtaking scenery.’