Saturday, 6 August 2016

A few days in Devon

   The duchess and I spent a few days down in Dartmouth in the beautiful county of Devon from the 31st of July to the 3rd of August. On the day we travelled it was really sunny and warm, so we decided to do some butterflying at Aish Tor -  a good site for High Brown Fritillary. We parked up and walked for a while up one of the paths; although there were loads of bramble and lots of Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns on the wing, there was no sign of our quarry, so we walked back to the car where Sue asked a family that had just parked up if we were at the right place. Luckily, they had an OS map which showed the Tor as being another 500 meters to the west so we drove further down the track and we parked at the Tor. As luck would have it,we bumped into a group of locals that were doing the same as us and they informed us that there were High Browns in the bracken just a few yards away; we soon found a female - egg laying, I think - as she spent a lot of time walking around on the ground in among the bracken and twigs. The group also told us of a site for White Admiral at Bovey Tracey, so after we left Aish Tor, we headed back up the A30 to the woodland at  Bovey Tracey                                                                 
                                                         High Brown Fritillary

                                                            High Brown Fritillary

We parked at the entrance to to woodland and followed the directions we had been given; we spent a good couple of hours searching all the brambles for the Admirals but with no luck - but there were lots of butterflies about - Peacocks and Brimstone which were in superb condition and also there were lots of Silver-washed Fritillary - we even found two mating! We went back to the car to get ready to continue our journey down to Dartmouth and whilst just sitting in the car having a drink, Sue had noticed a butterfly flitting over some bramble just the other side of the gate so she got out for a closer look.Within a minute she was beckoning me over to the bramble and sure enough she hadn't found one but two White Admirals. Though they were fairly worn,it was still a nice insect - and within 15 meters of the car! Still, it was a nice walk around the wood anyway!

                                                         Mating Silver-washed Fritillary
                                                             Silver-washed Fritillary
                                                                       White Admiral
                                                                    White Admiral

The weather was not very kind to us on the Monday so we went on the steam train into Paington - certainly recommend it! We had a great day despite the drizzle. The weather on Tuesday was overcast but with out the rain.  I had told Sue about a Dalmatian Pelican that been roaming around the South West coast and it had been reported at the Hayle Estuary RSPB and bless her she said instead of moping around Dartmouth,  lets go for it!  Two and half  hours later, there we were watching this fish-guzzling beasty hunting and seeking out its' prey - and luckily on a rising tide - so the bird came quite close at times, and even better -  the sun came out and it ended up being quite a nice day in Cornwall! All in all, despite the weather not being too kind for us, we had a great few days.
                                                               Dalmatian Pelican

                                                      The Pelican in hunting mode

We left a sunnier Dartmouth on Wednesday morning but decided to call in at another butterfly site - Preston Down Fields - where Brown Hairstreak were frequently seen. Unfortunately, although it was warm and sunny, it was quite windy, and despite our best efforts, we didn't see any - but we can leave them for another day - gives us a reason to go back again!

As always thanks for stopping by and as usual any comments are welcome 


  1. Another good trip Colin. Brown Hairstreaks can be very difficult and as you say impossible in windy conditions.
    I like the pelican pics.

  2. Cheers Carl, its an excuse to go down there again!!!

  3. Great trip Col. Try Grafton Wood, Worc. for the Hairstreak.

  4. Cheers Andy, Dave Gray and I got them at Whitecross Green Wood.........

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