2019 highlights of a wilder Devon life

2019 has seen me explore Devon a little more. I’ve been out onto Emsworthy Mire on Dartmoor a few times to enjoy the fungi and the Ring Ouzels.

I’ve been to Trendlebere Down to see a family of Stonechats and had wonderful afternoons getting close to them:

The Stonechats of Trendlebere Down

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I finally discovered where the lowland heath Bovey Heathfield was – in the ugliest place possible, surrounded by ‘A’ roads and industrial estates and yet home to rare species and beautiful views:

One of the ultimate highlights of the last year was visiting a bat cave in south Devon and seeing four different species of bat:

How amazing are they?

I had a fascinating afternoon discovering the twisted forms of the Lone Trees on Dartmoor:

Emsworthy Mire - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

So much is yet to be discovered about Pied Flycatchers. We have ringed 645,000 Pied Flycatchers in the UK since 1909, and yet have found just five UK breeding birds again (and none of the ones which hatched in the UK) in their African wintering grounds. Ringing 129,000 in summer to only find one in winter is a spectacular amount of effort over the past 110 years, with very little to show for it.

Pied Flycatcher in Yarner Wood - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The UK population has declined by 53 per cent since 1995 (Baillie et al. 2014).

How’s my 2019 Devon gallery looking?

I’ve enjoyed finding out some more of the science behind nature. Aren’t you pleased you read blogs with titles like these?:

‘Pink!’ The nine vocalisation vocabulary of the Chaffinch

A fungus, the Ice Man and rotten wood that smells of green apples

I also had fun recording a YouTube video of my attempts to get close to the rare Great Grey Shrike on Dartmoor. What a thrill that was:

Here’s one of the images I captured after hours of fieldwork:

Great Grey Shrike - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

What will 2020 bring? My son bought me detailed waterproof maps of Dartmoor as a Christmas present. I can see a lot more mud in my future. Be prepared.

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