Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  

April 

April (updated on Monday 1 April 2019)

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.

There is an old saying that if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb and it was certainly a wet stormy month until the last week when high pressure became dominant and suddenly there were birds and butterflies in abundance. However, the associated northerly winds have delayed the arrival of migrant birds and at the time of writing there are plenty of chiffchaffs singing but very few others (apart from the resident birds, some of whom are already nesting). On Sunday March 25th 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.

Birdwatching Walk – Sunday March 31st

A very gloomy morning for the walk but at least there wasnt a gale blowing. Loads of Chiffchaffs and great views of Mistle Thrush singing from the tallest trees. A pair of Yellowhammers on the heathland seemed to already have a nest in some thick gorse bushes and also a very approachable male Stonechat and a few Linnets flying around.

In the woodland area we saw Pied Wagtail on one of the houses and a pair of Grey Wagtails on the roof of the Woodland Centre plus a Mandarin Drake sitting on top of one of the nest boxes. There were good views of Raven and circling Buzzard before returning to the car park hide where we had Siskin on the feeders plus lots of Chaffinches and a solitary male Bullfinch. Highlight of the day for some of the group was a Great Spotted Woodpecker excavating a nest hole on a leaning Birch tree right in front of the hide. Other birds seen or heard included Song Thrush, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Carrion Crow and Wood Pigeon.

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).

Future Events - Spring Birds Walk

The next birdwatching walk will be on Easter Sunday April 21st. The walk will start at 09.30 hours from the Trendlebere Down Lower Car Park when we should see pied flycatchers, redstarts and possibly wood warbler. 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!

You can find details of other walks in the Events section of this web site.

Langaford Farm Bird Walk Sunday 28th April at 09.30

This is a free walk (but donations welcome) for the Langaford Farm Trust in an interesting area where there is not normally open public access, but you do need to book in advance.

Please contact me if you are interested by e-mail or telephone (details as shown below).

Telephone (0785 8421 148) or e-mail me at enquiries@dartmoornaturetours.co.uk if you need more information about any events. You can also Follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Dartmoornaturetours