We are using this page to record some wildlife and other nature related observations made in and around Widecombe. Please send us your own contributions.

Date Title Description
July 2017 Pennywort

Amazed at this pennywort in one of our walls. It is at least 25 centimetres tall.

Dartmoor Pennywort
May 2016 Hemlock Water Dropwort Have started to notice increasing numbers of this poisonous dropwort down in the marsh area. Seems to be following the river course - probably brought down by the river. It has carrot like poisonous roots. The stems etc are also poisonous but less so.
February 2015 Long Tailed Tits & Nuthatches Once again back feeding from our bird feeders. Lovely to see these splendid birds.
July 2014 Ferret We were just walking up our field and peeping out from a rabbit hole was a white ferret, clearly an escapee. It wasn't phased at all and spent over a minute looking at us before disappearing.
August 2013 Fritillary Butterfly

Seen for the first time: a fritillary butterfly on one of our buddleias. This is one of two seen. The other had a big chunk of its wing missing.

Dartmoor Fritillary Butterfly
September 2013 Dragonfly laying eggs Just saw a dragonfly repeatedly dipping its rear quarters into some ditch-water while hovering. Up and down over and over again. You can view the movie clip here
June 2012 Hawthorn in Blossom

The most beautiful hawthorn spotted on Hameldown in a sheltered spot. The only one in the area with the Beech Trees behind. Magical.

July 2009 Hedgehog Family A loud squeaking sound alerted us to something unusual one evening recently. We discovered a baby hedgehog wandering around in our vegetable patch. Some searching revealed the nest with mother and two other young. We returned the baby but next morning we found it tucked under the raspberries, apparently unable to find its way back to the nest, so again we returned it. That night we heard multiple squeaking noises so they were all on the move and had decamped. Yesterday we spotted a solitary hedgehog (the father?) in front of our barn.
March 2009 Love-Crazed Chaffinch? In recent days a chaffinch has been perched on our car rear-view mirror, jumping towards the car window and then back to his perch via a quick look in the mirror. This he repeats over and over again. He must be exhausted. We think he has mistaken the reflection for the mate that he sadly lacks, unless anyone can come up with a better suggestion. Picture to follow.
February 2008 Buzzard A buzzard is a daily visitor to our garden these days. He/she sits on a post waiting patiently presumably in the hope that he will catch one of the moles that appear to have invaded our grass.
January 2008 Long Tailed Tits We see these down by the marsh next to the Webburn, but very rarely do they come up to the house and feed from the feeders. A delight.
April 2007 Duck and Ducklings (Again!) We disturbed a duck and her ducklings when walking down on our marshland close to the Webburn. They scooted off but one duckling panicked so much it disappeared under the water. We thought it had drowned but a full minute (at least) later, it resurfaced and shot off to join the rest. Meanwhile the mother had come back looking for it.
April 2003 Fritillary

Spotted by the side of our pond. Beautiful. Click on the picture for a larger image

October 2002 Pheasants A young pheasant appeared to have wandered into our chicken coop by mistake and couldn't get back out. The mother was nearby frantically running backwards and forwards and trying to get through the chicken wire. I managed to persuade the pheasant out (the chickens helped - they are very jealous of their space when there is food around).
July 2002 Wild Flowers Repay closer study. Look here at the Meadowsweet, prevalent at the moment, and there are many others we will cover in future months.
June 2002 Duck and Ducklings A duck and her eight ducklings spotted making their way up the East Webburn river in single file
March 2002 Heron, Buzzards etc Disturbed a heron down in the marsh. Saw two crows harassing a large buzzard. Saw a deer cross the marsh and jump the wire into the next field.
Early February 2002 Frogspawn Just spotted masses of frogspawn in our pond and an army of frogs all going completely mad, making an enormous din. I guess it is that time of year again (and just a little earlier than last year).
Late January/Early February 2002 Floods Back again, a bit later than last year. The enduring memory will be of the horse fatalistically standing up to its belly in water, not attempting to seek higher ground.
December 2001 Snow Again, snow falls on Christmas Day, in the afternoon. Boxing Day and thereafter were glorious, perfect for sledging.
November 2001 Pheasants Three cock and two hen pheasants spotted in our garden (several times) presumably grazing on the acorns from the Oak trees. A few days later this was increased to five cocks and two hens and they were happily grazing with our chickens and some local wood pigeons.
October 2001 Mushrooms and other funghi

Are everywhere at the moment. Have fun (?) trying to identify them and deciding whether or not they are edible. Fly Agaric is easily spotted. Clouded Agaric, field mushroom, parasol mushroom, inkcap all common around us.

September 2001 Pony Drift The annual pony gathering has happened today (10th). Sad to see them gathered up, many not to return. There is talk of the numbers reducing still further. How can we do this to the symbol of the National Park? The nightly sound of hooves on the tarmac outside our bedroom window will be absent for a while.
September 2001 Feather (click on image for a larger view)

Found on the ground in the garden. Only 1.5 inches long and the photo sadly does not do justice to the vivid electric blue colour. We believe it is from a jay. Beautiful.

Early September 2001 Tawny Owl Seen on road at 10.00 p.m. picking at a small catch.
August 2001 Heather

Beautiful all over the moor. How many varieties can you spot?

Late June 2001 Yellowhammer Spotted on a hawthorn bush close to Chinkwell Tor.
Late June 2001 Flycatcher Nesting under the eaves close to our bedroom window.
June 2001 Ragged Robin Plenty of Ragged Robin in the marshy areas.
Early June 2001 Orchids (Click on image  for a larger view)

Abound in those secret areas, not to be divulged!

Mid-May 2001 Bees We managed to take a swarm of bees and get them established in a hive. This was our first swarm. Let's hope we keep them happy and they develop into a large colony.
Early May 2001 Bluebells Are now the dominant flower in the woodland areas and along the hedgerows.
Late Winter/Spring 2001 Deer & Pheasant (from Edward Lamb). Some locations edited out. I have seen more roe deer this year than any other. Last weekend I saw a male roe deer in the woods while out shooting.  The day after that we were out driving and we saw four in a field near Bellever, which is very unusual.  Also yesterday I was wandering around the rough below the fair field and saw a male and female roe which are more than likely the ones mentioned above.  Some time in the middle of winter I also saw a roe while shooting, which I followed for quite a while and about 5-10 minutes afterwards I saw another pair run off from where I first saw the first one. So there must have been three in the same area at the same time. There are also a lot more pheasants around this year.
20 April 2001 Cuckoo First one heard
20 April 2001 Swallows Have returned (and there's more than one!). We've tried to keep them from nesting in the barn this year. So now, if we leave the kitchen door open, they fly around the kitchen and sitting room looking for a nesting site!!.
Mid April 2001 Crows (Jackdaw) Two crows found in dining room!! Most unwelcome. Made their way down the chimney. They have been very persistent recently trying to find nesting sites. Apparently they drop twigs down chimneys until they wedge and then they build up their nest. Sometimes they make a mistake!
Mid April 2001 Heron A large grey heron was disturbed whilst wading in the boggy ground close to the Webburn.
Mid April 2001 Bank vole or similar, spotted in a rocky bank, quite unconcerned at nearby human presence.
Early April 2001 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers A pair of greater spotted woodpeckers seen playfully chasing each other in the trees at Dunstone.
Late March 2001 Deer A pair of Roe Deer were spotted in the boggy land close to the East Webburn.
Mid-March 2001 Nuthatches Another pair has appeared. There are now at least three in the vicinity.
Early March 2001 Bats A bat flew in through our bedroom window by mistake. We opened all the windows and eventually it found its way out after flying round and round for about twenty minutes.
Late February 2001 Foot & Mouth This outbreak has led to the effective closure of the moor. No walking on grass is allowed and all the car parks are closed. Everything is very quiet. Farms are completely cut-off as they try to ensure that the disease stays away.
Late February 2001 Nuthatches A pair of nuthatches regularly feed at our bird-feeders. Sadly one was found dead by a neighbour's house, believed it flew into a window.

This is really sad, as they are a delight to watch.

Mid February 2001 Buzzards Seven seen gliding and soaring above the valley. Unusual to see so many at one time.
Mid February 2001 Frogspawn Masses of it in our pond and lots of frogs leaping around and croaking.
Early February 2001 Snowdrops

Are out in force around the valley

January 2001 Wrens roosting in the Nesting Box In the last few evenings, at dusk, we have noticed 14 (yes 14) wrens go into the box and stay there, presumably to roost. They must literally all be piled on top of one another, we suppose to keep warm.

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