A bird in the hand…

Scientific monitoring is a core function of National Nature Reserves (NNRs). Bird monitoring undertaken here at East Dartmoor NNR aids management of the breeding bird assemblage which is one of the reasons the site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Natural England has a duty to maintain and enhance the breeding bird assemblage within the reserve, and to be able to do this it is crucial to have accurate bird data. Bird ringing is a means of identifyingRead more

Woodland birds’ response to climatic change

The RSPB is investigating the impacts of climate change on the breeding success of woodland birds including the declining Pied Flycatcher. In this blog Malcolm Burgess, from the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, shares the findings of his latest research work carried out in Yarner Wood. The onset of spring is getting earlier. Understanding the effects of this on woodland phenology and on the breeding success of woodland birds is being investigated across northern Europe, including in the UK. We know thatRead more

An Open Canopy – The Science of Woodland Restoration

This winter some weighty timber is being felled and extracted from Houndtor Woods in the Bovey Valley, and cutting the bulky stems is just one part of the complex operation. These Douglas fir and spruce trees were planted over 50 years ago to produce timber and have now reached a size where they can be converted into high quality structural beams, though the challenge is to extricate the cumbersome cut stems from steep terrain along twisting forest tracks. The operationsRead more

Ground Level Research in the Woods

As we descend into the depths of winter us humans may be thinking of how to keep ourselves warm. At home, we possibly have the option of turning up the heating or putting another log on the fire. If we are venturing out, we might put on a pair of gloves or perhaps dig out that Christmas jumper from last year; other suitably fashionable options are available. If you are setting off for a winter walk in the woods, you’llRead more

Bovey Barbastelle Bats – the Research Continues (Barbastelle Diary part 10)

After a busy summer of bat tracking last year, the colony of rare barbastelles in the Bovey Valley is providing further interest to scientists. This time, Dr. Orly Razgour, a research fellow from the University of Southampton has started to survey these East Dartmoor bats as part of her European-wide genetic research project on bat responses to global climate change. So far, Orly has been gathering information on barbastelles from Morocco to Sweden and, for a few nights in August,Read more

Canopy science

When was the last time you climbed a tree?  I expect the last time for most of us was as children – climbing the biggest tree in our garden or in the local park.  So when I heard that some students from Plymouth University would be climbing up into the oak canopy at Yarner Wood to study the diversity of life there, I had to find out more. When I spoke with the tutors from Plymouth University I learnt that they were no strangersRead more