I’ve finally managed to have a trip out to Bovey Heath. It’s a tiny remnant of the heathland which would have covered this entire area of South Devon once humans had cut and burnt all the trees. It’s off a depressing A-road, through an industrial estate and along a dog-walkers’ lane.
There are dozens of Meadow Pipits here, rising in co-ordinated undulating waves of flurrying feathers as I approach. There’s a Yellowhammer, like a canary beacon, on a distant tree, and a female Reed Bunting confusing me by roosting on a small tree on the heath.
There’s a colony of rare Narrow Headed Ants here, saved from destruction by being scooped up by Paignton Zoo and deposited back on the heath. That could only happen once the Devon Wildlife Trust had removed thirty tonnes of rubbish and fifty burnt out cars from the site. It still has rutted tracks from the off-road motorcyling.
There are also Heath Potter Wasps, a fascinating species of wasp which builds nests out of clay. I’ve seen videos by the entomologist John Walters of the wasps potting here. I’ve not seen them yet, but do visit John’s website to see his in-the-field sketches.
I can see a man in the middle of the heath. I say a man, what I can see is half a man; there’s someone bent double in the middle of the heath with his bottom in the air. He gets up and walks past me. It’s John Walters, the entomologist.
It’s beautiful here tonight. There’s only me left on this 50 acre site.
It’s wet and boggy beside some of the paths; perfect for a reflection of the orange and blue sky with the silhouette of what I think are sedges.
It’s still light enough to see, but not well enough for me to avoid the puddles. I use the torch on my phone to avoid the rest of them.
It’s lovely here. I’ll be back.