Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


September (updated on Monday 2 September 2018)

September was the seventh ( septem ) month of the Roman Year - hence its name!

We had very mixed weather in August which was wet and unsettled to start off with but got calmer as the month progressed. September suddenly feels very autumnal with a cool North West wind, mainly clear skies and chilly nights. The moorland (see picture below, top left) is now at its peak with the purple heather contrasting with the bright yellow colour of the western gorse.

Moorland birds are less numerous now as many have started to move southwards or down to the lowlands but there are still ravens, a few wheatears, meadow pipits, skylarks, families of stonechats and lots of migrating house martins.

Apart from a few species butterflies have continued to decline. The small tortoiseshell (see picture below, top right) used to be one of our most common species but despite an upsurge in numbers last year, still seems to be in decline. It lays its eggs on young clumps of stinging nettles in warm sheltered locations. The adults dont live in colonies but are wide ranging and the one I photographed was feeding on heather Calluna vulgaris .

In contrast the speckled wood (see picture below, bottom left) is a species that has been expanding in range and increasing in numbers. It is usually found in semi-shaded locations where there is dappled light. The eggs are laid on grass stems on or close to the woodland floor. The adults are on the wing throughout September and the males will often approach humans or other intruders on their territories before returning to rest on path-side vegetation.


September 1st might be considered the first day of autumn although anything can happen this month. Thanks to the rain in August fungi are already appearing in good numbers and I have already found Ceps in the local woods. One of my favourites is the Scarletina Bolete which regularly appears on the lane near my house and which rapidly turns blue when cut or handled (see picture below, bottom right).

Fungi are neither plants (they dont have chlorophyll) or animals and are now recognised as a separate kingdom. The problem for the amateur enthusiast is that there are so many of them with several thousand in the UK alone. Fungi like warm moist conditions and by now the soil has warmed up over the summer to reach a maximum temperature. Being solid it also takes a time to cool down so that is why September to November is the time of peak production.

Future Events -


Starts from National Trust Hembury Woods Car Park at 10.00 on Sunday 29h September.

Approx. 2.5 hours duration cost is £5.00 per adult (under 16s free of charge) PLEASE CONTACT ME (see below) TO MAKE A BOOKING


Devon Wildlife Trust Fungi Foray on Sunday October 13th starting at 10.00 hours from Trendlebere Down Middle Car Park.

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL (see contact details below).

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 if you need more information.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Dartmoornaturetours/