Five in one, half a dozen in the other!

You would be hard-pressed to find a more vibrant display of natural life than a family of dormice launching themselves, as if spring-loaded, out of their nesting box. This isn’t an uncommon sight when checking the nesting boxes that have been nestled away in the hazel coppice within Hisley Woods. At peak nesting season in September an impressive eighteen dormice were observed in one days monitoring, with two boxes hosting entire families numbering five and six individuals! After being weighed,Read more

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

Bovey Beauty – a clear winner on a foggy day

This year’s Bovey Beauty, the 10 mile fell race up, down and around the beautiful valley of the River Bovey was run on Sunday 24th September and, according to race organiser Dave Rickwood, was the “best one yet”. With the largest field ever to enter the race, records were broken and runners from all around Devon, Dorset and Cornwall rose to the challenge of this Grade ‘B’ course. The route passes through some of the most rugged and remote areasRead 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