Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


November 2016 (updated on Tuesday 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 several weeks of sunshine 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.


As usual the foray at Langaford Farm on Sunday October 16th (see picture below, bottom left) produced a good range of species and some very different ones from previous years. Most obvious addition to the list were the numerous specimens of the Birch Webcap which I don’t recall having seen there previously (see picture below, bottom right). As the name suggests this one is usually found growing close to Birch trees but also in beechwoods and occasionally with other broadleaf trees. Very young fruiting bodies can be mistaken for the Larch Bolete, but once the caps open there is no risk of such confusion because Birch Webcap has gills whereas Larch Bolete has tubes and pores on the undersides of its caps.

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

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