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

Letting in the Light

This summer and autumn, a group of volunteers have been  assisting Dr Alison Smith from Plantlife, to carry out a citizen science survey of some of the ancient woodland boundaries in the Bovey Valley. They have been recording the lichens found growing on the ancient oaks that span some of the old boundaries and they have been helping to photograph the canopy cover of the trees, using a 360 degree fisheye lens camera. These photographs can be used to measure the amount of light reachingRead more

Picking the Bones out of an Otter’s Lunch

Very few of us are lucky enough to have seen a real live otter though they frequently swim, hunt and raise cubs along the River Bovey and its tributaries. They are the apex predator in the food chain of this watery world and, though they have an elusive reputation, will leave us regular clues about where they have been and, if you look closely, what they have been eating. Please excuse the direct approach to getting down to business, butRead more

A Year in Yarner

In searching the waterways for signs of otters, Natural England volunteer, Emma, has been discovering the beauty of Yarner Wood as it changes through the seasons… For the last year I have been volunteering as part of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve otter survey team, visiting the woods on a regular basis to look for signs of otters on and around the rivers, streams and leats that braid their way across the landscape. Visiting the same places through theRead more

Long Gone, But Not Forgotten … Remembering the PiedFlys

As the seasons change our thoughts inevitably turn to the colder months ahead. So what better time to look back to those bright early days of spring, when East Dartmoor’s woods were bursting into life.  By pairing the stats from this year’s bird breeding season, with some stunning photos of the birds in action, this blog is an opportunity to celebrate the pied flycatcher, a migrant species that’s been monitored here since the 1950’s. Arriving in April to breed, piedRead more

At Home in the Woods

A colony of rare barbastelle bats, living in the woodlands of the Bovey Valley, has been studied over recent years by researchers from the University of Bristol. Now their detailed work has been published, we can fly through its many paragraphs, results and recommendations to glean an understanding of how woodland bat species make best use of feeding and roosting opportunities among the ancient oak woods. The shelter and protection offered to this ‘near threatened’ species (see IUCN Red List) from the roostsRead more