Dartmoor Nature Tours

Discover Dartmoor's wildlife with a professional local guide  


September (updated on Friday 1 September, 2016)

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

August was a very unsettled month with sunshine and showers plus and some days of heavy rain primarily caused by the location of the jet stream being much further south than normal. Despite the weather 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 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 migrating swallows and 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 don’t 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. The abundance of rain means they are appearing in good numbers so look out for species such as the Tawny Grisette (see picture, bottom right).

Fungi are neither plants (they don’t have chlorophyll) or animals and are now recognised as a kingdom in their own right. The problem for the amateur enthusiast is that there are so many of them…..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 -


Start from Trendlebere Down, Lower Car Park (Bovey Tracey end) at 10.00 on Sunday 17th September .

Approx. 2.5 hours duration cost is £5.00 per adult (under 16s are free of charge)

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 Twitter @Dartmoorphil