Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


(updated on Tuesday 17 July 2018)

July was originally the fifth month of the old Latin calendar and was known by the Romans as Quinctilis . It was renamed Julius in honour of Julius Caesar who was born in this month.

The dry weather has continued and the moorland is now looking very dry and apart from an occasional light shower the rain seems to be missing South Devon and East Dartmoor. Despite the drought the dwarf shrub community of heather and gorse is still quite luxuriant and alive with insects. (see picture below, top left)

Moorland Walk – Sunday 15th July

A gentle breeze was blowing and there were not many people around as we set off from Haytor Visitor Centre. Dodder is well-established now and flowering on its gorse host (see picture below, top right). Dodder is a true parasitic plant but unlike other parasitic plants, which have green leaves and only extract water and nutrients from their host plants, it has no leaves and must extract nourishment from the host plant.

In late-spring a slender stem emerges from germinating over-wintered dodder seeds, and entwines itself, always anti-clockwise, around the nearest host plant. At this stage it depends entirely on food reserves contained in the seed, for the plant has no green chlorophyll, but once it is established, the lower part of the stem withers and falls away, leaving the dodder to depend solely on its host, from which it takes sugar and other nutrients through suckers that penetrate stem and branches.

Wavy Hair Grass also looking good in amongst the dwarf shrub heath and there are also some nice bilberries for the birds to eat. I tried to get a picture of Small Heath butterfly (there are loads of them this year) but they kept whizzing around. I finally found one that settled but could not get very close to it before it took off (see picture below, bottom left). Despite the heat there were also good views of birds especially Stonechat and a very obliging Juvenile Wheatear (see picture below, bottom right)) plus Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Greenfinch, House Martins & Swallows.

Telephone (0785 8421 148) or e-mail me at enquiries@dartmoornaturetours.co.uk if you need more information.

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