It is a tradition with Torquay Boys Grammar School and National Trust Wild Tribe that the 10 Tors Training Walk before Christmas ends with a BBQ – this year was of course no different. But before everyone can eat they have to walk.
We started off from the car park behind the Dartmoor Inn at Lydford – and ended up at the car park below Great Staple Tor going via Lynch Tor, Fice’s Well and Little Mis. Here are a few photos from the day.
Waterfall on the (other) Wallabrook near Lydford
Looking west from Little Mis
The Touchstone near Princetown – I’ve never seen it before! Here is some detail about it.
Gathering for lunch at Fice’s Well. A place to removed spells from piskies or heal eye infections …..
Dartmoor Prison isn’t far away
Sun blazing through the clouds near Great Staple
Everyone’s back for the festive BBQ
Every now and again a book appears which grabs your attention and dominates your time! The last time this happened to me was when Mark Avery’s ‘Fighting for Birds‘ was published. Now the BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and the SOC have published their Bird Atlas 2007-11. It is a magnum opus both in terms of size and intellect. The book does however differ in many ways from Mark’s – I read his at a single sitting whereas the Atlas will take months to digest!
It is not a cheap book at £70 but it is an essential read for all people interested in bird conservation in this country.
Although I have spent a lot of time looking at the book I have by no means read it all yet but I have done a small of of analysis – what does this book tell us about the status and prospects for Dartmoor’s birds?
Whilst the analysis in the book is very scientific and rigorous my musings are of course subjective and I would welcome comment on it.
Below is a table which looks at the fate of 30 ‘classic’ Dartmoor species. The table gives the national distribution, changes since 1968-72, changes to the Dartmoor distribution and changes in abundance since 1988-91 along my thoughts on their prospects.
The Atlas shows that there are some clear winners (e.g. ravens, buzzards, peregrines and goshawk) and some real losers (wood warblers, ring ouzels, turtle doves and golden plover). Other species such as the whinchat are doing poorly but Dartmoor / Devon are real strongholds for the species nationally.
When I have had some more time to read the book and do some proper thinking I will write another blog outlining what I think the National Trust ought to be doing to help Dartmoor’s qunitessential birds. In many regards the Atlas is rather depressing – despite our huge efforts in actively managing our large Dartmoor woodland estate species such as wood warbler, common redstart and lesser spotted woodpecker are still decling. On our moorland (in Higher Level Stewardship) ‘common’ species such as wheatear, meadow pipit and skylark are holding their own whilst whinchats are stuggling.
Comments welcome and more to follow.
|Status of some selected breeding birds on Dartmoor|
|using data from the Bird Atlas 207-11|
|Habitat||Species||England Wales Scotland Distribution - % 10km occupied||England Wales Scotland Breeding distribution change 1968-72 to now||Dartmoor Distribution change 1968-72 to now||Dartmoor abundance change 1988-91 to now||Current Dartmoor fortunes|
|W||Buzzard||90||-22%||Same||Slight gains||Very good|
|R||Common sandpiper||42||-14%||Gains and losses||Stable||Average|
|M||Curlew||57||-17%||Losses||Slight losses||Very poor|
|M||Dartford warbler||5||+352%||Gains||Slight gains||Good|
|M||Golden plover||24||+20%||Losses||Almost extinct||Very poor|
|R||Grey wagtail||76||+19||Slight losses||Losses||Poor|
|F||Lapwing||74||+17%||Large losses||Almost extinct||Very poor|
|W||Lesser spotted woodpecker||20||-41%||Gains and losses||Losses||Very poor|
|M||Meadow pipit||90||-2%||Slight losses||Gains and losses||Average|
|W||Pied flycatcher||18||-2%||Gains||Some losses||Average|
|M||Ring ouzel||15||-43%||Losses||Losses||Very poor|
|F||Turtle dove||21||-51%||Large losses||Extinct||Very poor!|
|W||Willow tit||20||-55%||Losses||Losses||Very poor|
|W||Wood warbler||28||-35%||Large losses||Considerable losses||Very poor|
|M||Woodlark||5||-23%||Gains and losses||Gains||Average|
|Bird Atlas 2007-11 – The breeding and wintering birds of Britain and Ireland. (2013)|
|Balmer, Gillings,Caffrey, Swann, Downie & Fuller. BTO, Birdwatch Ireland and SOC|
Busy day today! Been to the Dartmoor Partnership AGM and heard an inspirational call to arms from our new Chairman Simon Chamberlain. Been working also at Parke before and after the AGM but on the way way and in between managed to snap a few Dartmoor pics.
I rather like the white geese at the Two Bridges Hotel – fierce but fair!
A winter sky on the way
First snow of the winter for me
Castle Drogo – taken from near the Warren House Inn!
A belted Galloway near Widecombe
And finally back to Parke
Four seasons in one day – I would expect no less from Dartmoor!
Sunday saw the running of this year’s Drogo 10 – the 10 mile off road running race through the Teign Valley. Over 500 entrants – amazing considering what a gruelling race it is. The fast racer was in in under 1 hour! Full race details can be found here.
I took a few pictures to capture the spirit of the place and atmosphere of the race. The full photo set is here.
The Teign Valley around Fingle Bridge always looks amazing in the autumn and this year is no exception
These guys finished 1-2-3 respectively – all finishing in under an hour
Runners in the landscape
This spaniel was first dog in but his handler really held him up
One of our Dartmoor Rangers – Stuart Mathieson running through Fingle Woods (which we recently jointly bought with the Woodland Trust) – Stuart completed the race in just under 1 hour 23 mins – impressive! My quickest time ever for the Drogo 10 was 1 hour 55 mins …..
Show boating on Fingle Bridge.
Amazing autumn colours.
Well done to all involved – runners, volunteers, organisers and supporters – the busiest Drogo 10 yet I think!
Been to Castle Drogo today – fantastic trip up the new Tower to review the repair works – absolutely brilliant – a must do thing! This along with the visit to the garden made a great afternoon’s entertainment. During the winter Tower trips only occur at the weekend – check here for full opening time details. Here are a few pictures from my visit.
Drogo’s roof under the biggest tent and scaffolding you have ever seen
It takes a few moments to get your bearings – everything looks so different.
Big time scaffolding.
The trip up the Tower.
And into the garden – the view across to Hay Tor.
Down the main path
The garden seat
A full set of photos can be seen here
One of our volunteers Mark has been working for months restoring / creating an apple press and a scratter (which crushes apples before they go in the press) at Parke. Well, after all the hard work they are finished and they work!
Here is the apple press
Mark cleaning the scratter before crushing the apples
The crushing cogs
Into the press
Pressing (some time later)
The apple juice!
Brilliant! This single pressing produced around 30 litres of juice.
Thanks Mark for all your hard work – a craftsman and a gentleman.