Protecting the Bluebell Woods from Big Old Foot

Quietly unfolding in the woods around us is one of nature’s spectacles – for just a few weeks in May, Dartmoor’s woodlands are carpeted in a haze of bluebells.  This spring the Woodland Trust has looked to the latest technology, to encourage families to explore some of the best bluebell woods, using downloadable Follow the Fairies family trails. Many of Dartmoor’s woodlands have a mystical quality and at this time of year the woods are carpeted in a thick layer of mosses and ferns and lushRead more

Finding Treasure: Heritage and Wildlife of the Bovey Valley

The wildlife of the Bovey Valley has adapted to human influences for thousands of years, and today, there are many clues in the landscape showing where and how our ancestors have lived, side-by-side with nature for millennia. Remains of stone buildings from prehistoric and medieval times are scattered through the valley and recent studies have recorded where enclosures and boundaries defined different land uses. Further work by archaeologists continues to tell the story of human habitation in the Bovey which,Read more

Students Spring into Action

Just six weeks on from their last visit, the students of the University of Exeter were back in the woods to continue their conservation task at the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve. In that short time the seasons had changed and, on a cool morning, some spring time wildlife was waiting to welcome the students. Their aims for the day were to clear undergrowth around some of the archaeological features in the valley; two ancient farmsteads are being gradually revealedRead more

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

Sun, Trees, Tools and Tall Tales

You can’t organise the sun, but if we could, we couldn’t have planned it any better. On the 25th March we had the sun, we had warmth and we had lots of people having fun and learning about how and why we manage our woods (in the past and in the present). Down in the glade – where the sun kept everyone warm – there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere whilst people ate their picnics and took part in variousRead more

Bovey Valley Timber: Your Questions Answered

Why are trees felled in the woods of the Bovey Valley? How are they felled and how is the timber extracted? Where does the timber go after it leaves the Bovey Valley? Timber! Tools, Trees and Tall Tales is a special spring-time event hosted by the Woodland Trust and Natural England, as part of the wider HLF funded Moor than meets the eye project, where you will be able to find out the answers to these questions … and lotsRead more

Take Shelter in Yarner Wood

For the wildlife of Dartmoor, Yarner Woods provides essential shelter from the extremes of the moorland weather, the swirling wind, thunderous storms and even the occasional blazing sun. The grand oaks of this nature reserve withstand the regular pressures thrown at them from the Atlantic weather systems and maintain a calm and safe hideout for the wild residents. But for those sensitive creatures that need a little more protection, a new wooden shelter has just been built among the oakRead more

Look Out! Bird Hide Under Construction

Managing a nature reserve is about creating a diverse range of habitats to support the widest variety of wild species. Establishing and maintaining the right mix of wild plants in the right places will, it is hoped, attract the wildlife to the reserve and, assuming it is not disturbed, it will settle in and make a home. Of course, the appropriate species of wild plants and animals must be targeted; only those that are indigenous to the area are expectedRead more

Vinnimore Medieval Farmstead – International Rescue

Day 1 Managing a nature reserve can be a complex job, requiring a good understanding of many ecological disciplines, but here at East Dartmoor NNR, a good knowledge of historical land use and local heritage helps too. To develop these competencies, the Natural England Eco Skills Conservation Assistants are, from time to time, given a project to manage. This time it was the turn of Elizabeth “Beany” Townsend to get a taste for planning and organising preparations for the archaeologicalRead 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