National Trust Devon Rangers come to Dartmoor

Around 50 of the National Trust’s Rangers in Devon have just met at Fingle Bridge in the Teign Valley for a conference on the Outdoors and Nature. We spent two days in the glorious sunshine and camped overnight. Tremendous atmosphere and camaraderie – now all back to our special places fired up and ready to manage them even better for people and wildlife. Full photo set here

rangers-24Team photo at the end

Continue reading…

Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Pearl Boardered Fritillary

Pearl Boardered Fritillary

 This is the time of year when we take stock of the success of the years Pearl-bordered Fritillary all too short fight period. The news is not very good as once again despite our best efforts in providing the habitat the weather has stepped in with rain overcast skies and strong cold winds, not ideal breeding conditions for a small rare butterfly. Some have been seen and with the past few days of sunshine hopefully the late fliers will be able to get out there and lay some eggs in hope of a sunny spring next year.

On the subject of habitat within conservation there are often difficult decisions to be made around management options. One of these conundrums is developing on the side of the gorge below Castle Drogo. Continue reading…

Go Batty in the Woods

Do you often find yourself asking: What’s the point of bats? Do bats suck blood? Are bats blind? What on earth is echolocation?

If the answer is yes, then a night going batty in the woods is just the thing for you.

Come and join the NT Ranger for a night walk through Plym Bridge Woods to learn more about these mysterious creatures.

When?

Thursday 23 August 8pm til 10pm

Where?

Meet in the National Trust car park in Plymbridge Woods (Grid ref: SX 524 585)

What else do I need to know?

To book, call 01752 341377

Adults £4, Children £2

Wear sturdy shoes and bring a torch. If you have your own bat dectector, bring that along too.

Seen an elephant fly?

This handsome chap is a elephant hawk moth, so called because the caterpillar has one end that looks like a trunk. The kids at Lydford primary school hatched out ‘squidgy’ last week after 5 moths of caring for him as a pupa. Squidgy was a Christmas present to the kids from the rangers at Lydford gorge and along with their teacher Sue have done us proud.

Elephant hawk moths are native to the UK, my girlfriend and I found this one in the early autumn looking for a place to pupate, squidgy had a releasing ceremony last Friday and is once again a ‘wild’ moth!

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Managing land for conservation is a National Trust rangers bread and butter.  The general aim is to increase habitat diversity which then leads to wildlife diversity. The photos show a disused quarry which had become over grown.  Last week the team sensitively allowed more light in by selectively felling a number of trees and removing excessive debris from the water. The result is a mixture of habitats that caters for a range of species instead of less diversity and less wildlife. SIMPLES!

Not too Crabby

For those of you not familiar with Whiddon Deer Park in the Teign Valley, one of it’s many marvellous attributes is this fine old Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris). It was admired by some of the leading members of the Ancient Tree Forum on their last visit to the Park. The tree is so large and old for its species that the heavier braches are beginning to droop towards the ground (in other species this is known as layering). Unfortunately for this poor tree it is in an area frequented by the cattle which are essential to the proper management of the Park, and as such as soon as the branches droop to cow height, they are browsed upon. To stop this, the forum suggested fencing the tree off to protect it from the worst of the bovine appetite. As you can see from the pictures, it is a truly magnficent example of this species and hopefully will remain so for a long, long time to come, and the cows will  have to make do with grass.  

Winter in the walled garden

If you haven’t been into the walled garden for a couple of years, you will now see a miraculous change. With a small team of regular volunteers, our Green Giants and the Bovey community gardeners, this unique organic garden has plenty on show. Many plants have been added over the last couple of years but the most recent were planted last week; two types of pepper (Szechuan and Nepal), a Goji Berry, Japanese Wineberry and Sea Buckthorn. This autumn has been the first to try tulip and narcissi bulbs for cutting in the spring. The grape vines have just been pruned according to their training system and we are continuing to fight the good fight against the creeping buttercup. We are anxious to look after our wildlife and the many birds have enjoyed our fruits and now the seeds left in the wild flower patch. On a cold winter’s day, there is nothing better than relaxing on the bench and watching the woodpecker and his other feathered friends topping up on the bird feeders….aaah, the peace of it all.

Europe’s smallest bird arrives

Two goldcrests were spotted and heard in woods yesterday afternoon, indicating that autumn has arrived. Plymbridge’s habitat of broadleaf woodland with nearby conifers is perfect for the UK’s smallest songbird.

Goldcrests weigh around 5-6g and travel distances exceeding 1,000km. Last year a ringed goldcrest was recorded crossing the North Sea from Norway, to Lincolnshire in just two days. That’s 665km, from a bird 9cm long, with a 15cm wingspan!

They’ll often associate with foraging flocks of tits, nuthatches, and treecreepers. The goldcrest’s call is thin and high-pitched (listen to it here), and they spend most of their time in the tree canopy. (Photograph taken by Nigel Climpson)