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

John and the Robin

  John Clare was a 19th century English poet who loved the countryside. He lived in the sweeping rural landscape of Northamptonshire and, working as a farm labourer, grew up in poverty without any formal schooling. Paradoxically, his poetry left us with a rare insight into an important period of rural life after the Enclosure Acts which radically changed land ownership, bringing in newer forms of agriculture. John Clare recorded, in his own, self-educated words how he saw the welfareRead more

Celebrating Fungi at East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve

Here at Yarner Wood we are treated to a wonderful array of habitats for plant and animal species. Visitors come from far and wide to observe breeding migratory birds like the pied flycatcher. Lichenologists can be fascinated for hours by the specimens growing thick on the old oaks of Yarner Wood and the Bovey Valley. However, there is one often overlooked kingdom that grows abundantly across the reserve.  Spending most of the year underground, for a few short months theyRead more

From Wood to Moor – a Dartmoor Conservation Story (chapter 1)

When you walk through the wooded fringes of Dartmoor you may occasionally hear the rasp of a chainsaw followed by the thud of falling conifer trees. You may sometimes stroll by a stack of timber, perhaps wondering what that pile of logs could be used for. Following that train of thought, you might perhaps ask yourself the question, “Why are they cutting down these trees? Isn’t that a bit destructive?” Well, in many of these woodlands there is a plan,Read more

A Tour of East Dartmoor

The Conservation Assistants recently led a guided tour of the National Nature Reserve (NNR) for the Dartmoor National Park apprentices.  This was a chance for them to see what the trainee scheme at East Dartmoor NNR is all about, and for both sides to network, sharing experiences and knowledge. I was invited to go along as a new volunteer, so I could get to know the National Nature Reserve and also get an overview of the sort of activities goingRead more