Bovey Beauties

“They flutter erratically through our lives like stray but familiar thoughts” Miriam Rothschild Everyone recognises a butterfly – the adult form of the Lepidoptera order of insects, the most iconic of our flying insects.  A flight, a rabble or a rainbow of butterflies – all collective nouns for butterflies – will bring an image to everyone’s minds. A rabble of speckled wood butterflies, perfectly demonstrates their male territorial behaviour in the woodland glades. But where does the name ‘butterfly’ come from?Read more

On a Winter’s Day

All the leaves were down and the sky was grey, we went for a soils walk on a winter’s day… On the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve we joined soil specialist, Rob Parkinson, to look at what is going on below the leaves – in the soils around Haytor and Yarner Wood. Following the route of a new walking trail, we looked at how soils are formed, and how the soils’ physical and chemical properties can be determined by theRead more

Woodland Management with the Bristol Scouts

On Tuesday the 31st of July Natural England and the Woodland Trust joined forces with 41 Scouts from the 77th, 90th and 167th Bristol Scout Troops and Steama Explorer Scout unit, for a day of conservation activities in Pullabrook Wood. The Explorers teamed up with East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve manager Albert Knott, to survey lichens along some of the woodland’s ancient boundaries. The other two groups teamed up with Jim White, from the Woodland Trust and the Natural England ConservationRead more

Giving Lower Plants the Upper Hand

The mild, wet conditions in the south-west of England, brought about by the Gulf Stream and our proximity to the sea, have created perfect conditions for the establishment of Atlantic Woodlands. These moist, humid woods—also known as Celtic Rainforests—are brimming with lush green ferns, carpets of mosses and lichens covering tree trunks and hanging from the canopies. Building Resilience in South West Woodlands is a new Heritage Lottery-funded project—led by Plantlife—that addresses the challenges faced by the Atlantic woodlands ofRead more

A Lichen Tor

Lichens are so omnipresent that few people stop to admire the incredible variety among them. I myself was guilty of paying them little more attention than a cursory glance, before I, with a team of other Natural Sciences undergraduates from the University of Exeter, teamed up with Natural England for one of our modules. Two of the key lichen species that we recorded at sites across Dartmoor – Usnea articulata (left) and Bryoria fuscescens  On our first venture to Dartmoor, weRead more

No Boundaries – Broader Horizons

The wonderful wildlife of the eastern side of Dartmoor is not just found within the boundaries of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. Species of plants and animals often find places that suit their requirements in the surrounding fields, heaths and woods. The nature reserve managers, Natural England and the Woodland Trust, frequently work with neighbouring landowners to monitor and improve the habitats around this beautiful part of the moor. For example, in recent years, researchers from the University ofRead more