A Tall Order

Late summer is an unusual time to be felling trees, but for a few warm sunny days, the familiar winter sound of chainsaws returned to Pullabrook Woods. Small-scale woodland contractor, Martin Underhill and his colleague, Josh were felling a small area of large Douglas fir trees. This is a skilled operation at any time of year, but in the summer, extra care is needed to avoid late nesting birds, which is not usually a problem when the woodland wildlife isRead more

Earthworms at Yarner

“It may be doubted if there are many other animals which have played such an important part in the history of the world as these lowly organised creatures” – Charles Darwin, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms (1881). This is the quote that Matt Shepherd opened World Earthworm Day at Yarner Wood with. But why are earthworms so important? Matt is a specialist on soil biodiversity for Natural England, he explained that worms are integral membersRead more

Life in the Canopy

Since its designation in the 1950’s the diverse habitats and wildlife of East Dartmoor NNR have been studied by scientists with an interest in ecology.  But to study life in the canopy, takes both a strong head for heights and some highly specialised equipment. However a team at Plymouth University have become highly skilled at working in this challenging environment. Each year Biological and Environmental Science students from Plymouth University, visit the tropical forests of Borneo, to study the highRead more

Otter Survey – Time to Share Some Skills

Otters are very secretive and elusive animals. We know they live along the River Bovey but, how many are there? And where are they? Occasional sightings and short clips of video from stationary trail cameras only provide partial answers to those questions. So, how do we find out where they are at any particular time? Well, the answer is, legwork! By monitoring the signs otters leave behind, we can slowly build up a picture of where they move around theRead more

Saving a Rare Species – The Plight of the Elm

East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths National Nature Reserve is just one of over 200 NNRs across England, and Natural England designate these areas to “protect some of our most important habitats”. These conservation areas are widely varied but, here in the woods of East Dartmoor, a team of volunteers is helping to conserve a tree that, over recent decades has become scarce and, while being worthy of protection itself, it also holds the key to the survival of a rareRead more

Hisley Heritage Walk

People have lived and worked on Dartmoor for thousands of years and evidence of this history can be found on the ground today …if you know where to look. The East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve and Bovey Valley holds many clues and can tell many stories about our ancestors’ lives in the area. A new walking route, Hisley Heritage Walk, has been designed to encourage people to become historians as they follow a five kilometre trail through Hisley Wood. The description ofRead more

Protecting the Bluebell Woods from Big Old Foot

Quietly unfolding in the woods around us is one of nature’s spectacles – for just a few weeks in May, Dartmoor’s woodlands are carpeted in a haze of bluebells.  This spring the Woodland Trust has looked to the latest technology, to encourage families to explore some of the best bluebell woods, using downloadable Follow the Fairies family trails. Many of Dartmoor’s woodlands have a mystical quality and at this time of year the woods are carpeted in a thick layer of mosses and ferns and lushRead more

Pearls of Wisdom

Thursday was definitely not ideal butterfly weather- cold and wet –which was a shame after such a beautiful start to May. But a brave bunch of us gathered in the beautiful location of Yarner Woods at the Woodland Centre to meet Megan Lowe from Butterfly Conservation and to learn more about the ecology and field identification of two of our early rare moorland butterflies the pearl bordered and small pearl bordered fritillary Over the sometimes torrential rain which threatened toRead more

Up with the birds

Fresh off the back of the Woodland festival lectures was a chance for people to get out and visit the National Nature Reserve and see some of the wildlife we’d been talking about the day before. Billed as a Beginners guide to the Dawn chorus this was definitely a more gentle way to ease us into the joys of early morning birdsong with a relatively leisurely 7am start. We were greeted by gentle sunshine easing through the trees and creatingRead more

Understanding Dartmoor’s woodlands

At this time of year the suggestion that a bunch of naturalists should spend time indoors is usually met with derision. Why be inside when you can be out and about watching Spring burst into action. So it was with a little trepidation that we decided to hold our first Woodland Festival Lectures programme at the National Park headquarters at Parke on Saturday right in the middle of the season. We needn’t have worried. There was a real appetite toRead more