Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


November 2017 (updated on Wednesday 1 November)

November was the ninth month of the Roman Year and November 11th was considered to be the beginning of winter. The Saxons called November the blood month because it was when cattle were slaughtered for winter consumption .

The clocks have gone back and now it is light at 6.30 in the morning and dark at 5 in the evening - we would save an awful lot of energy (and money) by switching to European time.

After a very warm sunny and end to October autumn has definitely arrived – the trees and bracken are turning colour, leaves are falling and there is a hint of frost on clear mornings. The last spring migrant birds have returned to their wintering areas in Africa and the first redwing (see picture below, top right) and fieldfares have now arrived from their breeding grounds in Northern Europe.

Golden plover are winter visitors to Dartmoor from northern areas and there is usually a large flock in the short grass, boggy areas at the back of Haytor quarries. On the ground (see picture below, bottom left) they are very difficult to approach and have a ‘safety limit’ of about 100 metres – approach any closer and they take off immediately. In flight they keep close together like a murmuration of starlings.

Fungi - The Third Force!

Fungi are neither plants (they don’t have chlorophyll) or animals and are now recognised as a kingdom in their own right. The problem for the amateur enthusiast is that there are so many of them - several thousand in the UK alone. They depend on a complex combination of warmth and moisture whilst soil and vegetation influence what species are likely to be found in any given locality.

Unfortunately, Autumn 2017 has not been one of the best of seasons for fungi. Despite occasional downpours there has not been a huge amount of rain and the soil has been quite dry for the time of year. However, there is always something unexpected turning up like the Red Cage Fungus found in Bovey Tracey last week (see picture below, bottom right)! This unusual fungus is a member of the Stinkhorn family and emits a disgusting smell that attracts flies and other insects which it uses to disperse its spores. It is also a non-native species that has probably reached Britain via imported compost or garden shrubs.

B> Future Events -


Starts from Trendlebere Down, Lower Car Park (Bovey Tracey end) at 10.00 on Sunday 5th November.

Approx. 2.5 hours duration cost is £5.00 per adult (under 16s are free of charge)

Further walks can also be arranged on request – please ring Phil Page on Tel: 0785 8421 148 or e-mail to: enquiries@dartmoornaturetours.co.uk if you need more information.

You can also follow me on Twitter @Dartmoorphil