Counting butterflies

As the butterfly season draws to a close, butterfly surveyor Janet Ritchie reflects on the 2017 survey season and the all important Dartmoor weather… The regular butterfly transect through Yarner Wood takes place every week from April 1st to September 30th. The same timed walking route is used for long-term comparisons over the years. One of the main weekly considerations is the weather, the temperature has to be between 13-17 degrees and not when it’s windy. This keeps us focusedRead more

Sharing Expertise on Woodland Bats

During a long mid-summer day, with the woodland canopy glowing green in the sunshine, it was a perfect day for a walk in the woods at East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, but this time, it was a walk with a difference. Conservation experts from around the SW had been brought together by the Woodland Trust to share the knowledge built up through recent research about a colony of barbastelles, a rare woodland bat species. Over recent years, this colony hasRead more

Graylings

August is the perfect time to go in search of a master of camouflage – the Grayling butterfly. In this blog, Natural England volunteer Janet Ritchie, shares her enjoyment of surveying for this summer butterfly and describes some of their unique characteristics. …To me, one of the interesting things about the month of August is looking for Grayling butterflies on Trendlebere Down. There are two transects I cover, the bigger one just below the top car park, and the smallerRead 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

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

News from the Vinnimore Dig – the final day

Today was our last day on site at Vinnimore and what a week it’s been.  We had a steady trickle of visitors throughout the day who came to the open day – some were just passing through and others had made a special journey to see the excavation taking place.  Jane, Kate and Dave from the Woodland Trust, DNPA archaeologist Andy Crabb and myself and Andy from Moor than meets the eye were on hand to greet visitors, explain theRead more

News from the Vinnimore Dig – Day 5

There was a real sense of anticipation and excitement on site today as we approach the end of the dig and begin preparations for the open day tomorrow.  As the weather was milder, the midges were out in full force which made working conditions a little difficult at times.  Fortunately, our volunteers are a resilient and hardy bunch who aren’t to be put off by swarms of these tiny insects. John and Marc from Oakford Archaeology began the process ofRead more

News from the Vinnimore Dig – Day 4

Today we were joined by over 50 pupils form Widecombe and Blackpool primary schools who have helped out with the excavation with great enthusiasm! They also enjoyed a guided walk through the surrounding woodlands to explore the remains of Boveycombe Farm and learn about the ever-changing woodland landscape. Many thanks to the pupils and their teachers for paying us a visit! In what we now think is the kitchen for the dwelling, work was focussed on removing tumble around theRead more