Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  

April 

April (updated on Wednesday 1 April 2020)

The Romans called this month Aprilis. It may come from a word meaning to open, or it may come from Aphrodite, the Greek name for the goddess of love.

It seems very strange to be writing this in the middle of a global pandemic but I also realise how fortunate I am to be living on Dartmoor surrounded by Woods, Moorland, Fields and Hedges. I never, in my wildest nightmares imagine that I would experience anything like this.

There is an old saying that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb but this was a month of two halves when the continuous rain gave way to high pressure and sunshine. However, we now have cold northerly winds which might delay the arrival of our spring migrant birds. At the time of writing there are plenty of Chiffchaffs and a few Blackcaps singing but these are probably overwintering birds from the lowlands. On Friday March 27th when the sun was shining, and temperatures got up into the teens and brimstones, red admirals, peacocks and comma (see picture below top right) were all out and about plus an emergence of Oil Beetles and Bee Flies.

Granite

Granite is the bedrock of Dartmoor and the rocky outcrops called tors are its most distinctive feature (see picture below, bottom left). The tors are the remains of a high mountain range that was formed by volcanic activity about 270 million years ago. Cooling and release of pressure on the rock led to the formation of horizontal and vertical joints that we can see on the tors. Subsequent erosion under both warm tropical conditions (during the Carboniferous period) and extreme cold (the Glacial and post-Glacial periods) have reduced these mountains to tiny remnants of their former selves.

Wheatears are one of the first birds to arrive on the moorland and they set up territory in and around the granite tors and wherever there are dry stone walls and areas of short grass for them to pick off the insects on which they feed (see picture below bottom right). It would be a delight to get up onto Dartmoor and see them but as things stand that might not happen for a while!

Future Events - Spring Bird Walks

Sadly all walks and events are cancelled until Coronavirus pandemic is resolved. You can still Follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Dartmoornaturetours