After a wet start to the month, the fine and sunny weather over the past few weeks has encouraged all the butterfly populations of the Plym Valley to take to the wing. Alongside regular sightings of Small Heath, Brimstone, Wall and Speckled Wood, the transects carried out last week, confirmed the presence of Fritillaries in the Upper Plym. Continue reading…
Residents of the Dartmoor village of Lee Moor have a new tree on their village green. Working closely with members of the Shaugh Parish Council and helped by pupils from Shaugh Prior Primary School, the Plym Valley Ranger team have planted a Copper Beech.
This ornamental Beech (Fagus sylvatica purpurea), which was selected by the Parish Council, is cultivated from the European Beech and is distinguished by its purple leaves. In order to protect it from grazing animals, the Rangers also built an oak tree guard.
The New Forest History and Archaeology Group have been visiting Dartmoor this week and as part of their planned activities spent Wednesday being guided around some of the important archaeological sites in the Upper Plym.
The morning walk with the Ranger was spent around the Dewerstone looking at the extensive industrial archaeology. Visits were made to the Ferro-Ceramic mine, Brogden and Casper’s Brick kiln and all of the China Clay Kiln workings.
After an enjoyable lunch in Meavy, and an appreciation of the impressive 800 year oak on the village green, the afternoon was spent on the sites around Trowlesworthy.
As well as looking at the late Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, enclosures, stone rows, kists and cairns there was also time to study the evidence left behind from Trowlesworthy’s rabbit warrening history.
Last Saturday, Rangers from the Plym Valley led a guided walk down the River Plym as part of the National Trust’s first ever nationwide Walking Festival which is running from the 22 – 30 October.
The Plym Valley walk covered 16 miles from its source at Plym Head all the way to Saltram House. Included along the way were stops at Cadover Bridge, Shaugh Bridge and Plym Bridge which encouraged those people looking for a shorter walk to join in.
In total, 16 people joined the event at various points with the intrepid 7 starting the walk at 8am, being rewarded with an impressive sunrise! Weather conditions for the day were excellent and ground conditions for Dartmoor in late October were surprisingly dry.
The finish at Saltram House was reached at 3 o’clock with a much welcomed tea or coffee (and biscuits!). A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all with several also expressing an interest to do it all again next year!
A spotted flycatcher has been sighted feeding around the river Plym at Plymbridge Woods. Masters of the air, they hunt butterflies and other insects with an audible snap of the bill. Recently the numbers of spotted flycatchers has dropped dramatically, so they are now high on the Red List.
The redstart is breeding near Cadover Bridge at the Upper Plym. This bird is much easier to identify due to their bright orange-red tails. Like the spotted flycatcher, the redstart is a migratory bird, and spends the winter in northwest Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. (Photographs taken by Nigel Climpson)
I’ve had a couple of weeks annual leave but I have been out on Dartmoor a lot. This weather is unprecedented and fantastic.
I’ve stayed ‘local’ for my holidays but have been out in the National Park around a dozen times.
Read about the spooky lifestyle and life cycle of the nationally threatened oil beetle here.
Want a good walk up the River Plym? Try this.
The National Trust’s 10 Tors Team – Wild Tribe has been out training in fabuous weather and fantastic landscapes – read about it here.
Finally I have been trying to uncover a savage murder mystery on the moor – dozens of slain Emperor Moths found on the moor – who dunnit?
Following on from the blog article by our collegues at Hembury Woods (dated 24th March), Plym Valley staff and volunteers have been keeping a close eye on the ground for oil beetles. Over the past few weeks, we have had numerous sightings and have discovered that Plymbridge Woods is home for the Black and Violet Oil Beetles (Meloe proscarabaeus and Meloe violaceus respectively).
The specimen pictured (M. violaceus) was discovered while Rangers were working near the Dewerstone on Dartmoor.
If you are interested in seeing an oil beetle, Colwill Meadow in Plymbridge Woods is an excellent spot to find them. The meadow can be found upstream from Plymbridge on the left side of the river. Don’t forget to report your sightings at www.buglife.org.uk
Plym Valley has gained two new Long Term Volunteers to assist with the day to day running of the estate. Lucy Tozer and Jonathan Noades have now settled in to the volunteer accommodation at Miners’ Cottage.
Lucy is working alongside Steph Rodgers as a Community Engagement Assistant. She is new to the area, having moved from the south coast of Cornwall, where she volunteered with the local National Trust, Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Seal Group and the RSPB. Education and engagement is Lucy’s main interest and she is keen to discover the abundant wildlife that can be found in Plymbridge Woods and the Upper Plym.
Jonathan is assisting Plym Valley Ranger Peter Davies with the upkeep and preservation of this naturally diverse estate. Having recently graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Plymouth, he is already familiar with the area. Jonathan has taken a dedicated interest in the vast array of archaeological artefacts around the Dewerstone area and on the Upper Plym. He looks forward to working on preserving such treasures, as well as undertaking a variety of tasks, to conserve the natural vitality of the landscape.
If you see either of them, please do not hesitate to stop and say hello.
National Trust volunteer John Smith (pictured) is once again braving the elements of the Upper Plym to undertake the annual archaeological surveys. John has been monitoring the condition of the internationally renowned, historic and pre-historic remnants of the area for several years, reporting on their condition and strengthening previous survey work. Artefacts examined include hut circles, stone rows and cists dating back to the Bronze Age, as well as medieval farmsteads and rabbit warrens. The surveys form part of the estates management to ensure the survival of such archaeological treasures for generations to come. With John’s help, it is hoped a guided walk will be made available to download from the NT website, allowing any budding “Time Team” enthusiasts, to discover some of these amazing artefacts for themselves.