Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


March 2019 (updated on Friday 1st March)

March was called Martius by The Romans after the god of war, and Hyld Monath (loud or stormy month) by the Saxons . There is an old saying that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb but we never know what lies ahead!

The last week of February 2019 was a total contrast to February 2018 when The Beast from the East brought bitterly cold temperatures and snow from Siberia to the British Isles. Then on March 1st the snow finally reached Dartmoor as warm moist air from the south met the cold winds from the east.

Instead of snow February this year saw record breaking temperatures due to a warm southerly air stream caused by the position of the Jet Stream. March has started with a change to more seasonal conditions with normal temperatures and showers coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

Butterflies in February

The warm sunny weather brought out lots of our hibernating /over-wintering adult butterflies and there were four different species flying around in my garden on February 25th. These were Brimstone (see picture below, top right), Comma, Red Admiral and Peacock. There were also several Bumblebees and Hoverflies nectaring on the Primroses and other flowers in the garden.

As March progresses and the weather warms up, more birds return to Dartmoor. Yellowhammer (see picture below, bottom left) and Stonechat have already taken up territories on the local heathland and will soon be joined by other moorland species such as Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, and Linnets. If the mild weather continues the first Chiffchaffs will soon be heard singing from the woodland edges.


Throughout history humans have used fire as a means of managing vegetation especially on heathland, moorland and similar open landscapes. Swaling is the local word used on Dartmoor to describe this type of management. The object of swaling is to maintain the open landscape and provide fresh grass for grazing animals.

The aftermath of swaling can make the landscape very unattractive (see picture below, bottom right) and is a controversial issue but unfortunately without it, arsonists would have a field day and instead of smaller controlled fires of tens of hectares we would end up with fires extending over hundreds and thousands of hectares.

Future Events - Spring Birds Walk

The next birdwatching walk will be on Sunday March 31st. The walk will start at 09.30 hours from the Trendlebere Down Lower Car Park when we hope to see the first arrival of Chiffchaffs and other returning migrants. Charge is £5.00 per adult

This is a walk of 2 miles and lasts for 3 hours. The objective will be to find as many different birds as possible!

Telephone (0785 8421 148) or e-mail me at enquiries@dartmoornaturetours.co.uk if you need more information about any of these events. You can also follow me on Facebook at