Sunday, 4 May 2014

Dartmoor: Day 2: Haytor With Adders and The River Teign

The hostel supplied Full English Breakfasts and three course suppers, so on Tuesday I got up at  6 and went for a forty five minute run with my room-mate Cara through the forest and up out onto the moor. We stopped at the top to listen to a Grasshopper Warbler calling and ran back with a Siskin keeping us company flying through the tops of the conifers.

Well set up for the day after that and the breakfast, we piled into the two minibuses again and headed off to Haytor, a granite outcrop on the Eastern edge of Dartmoor. 

We were looking for plants and wild things and the Tor didn't disappoint. There were lizards....

Skylarks singing on the ground....

Yellowhammers in the trees (haven't seen one of these for years, so a real highlight for me)...

Male Yellowhammer

Stonechats and Meadow Pipits...

Pipit bottom left

Pied Wagtails....


 We went up to the Tor and some of us climbed it, with Cal getting to the top first....

The View From The Top
After that we all had to have a sit down and some lunch to recover.....

The sun came out and the views were spectacular....

Sash and Em found an adder skin. We had been Looking Out for adders, but they are notoriously sensitive to vibrations in the ground and also well camouflaged among the heath. Ruth had initially spotted two but by the time we came to look for them they'd taken fright and disappeared into the heather.

But then Ben (old eagle eyes) found them again....I make no apology for including FIVE photos- seen as I took over thirty I reckon I've done pretty well getting it down to just five :-)

The male is the smaller of the two, with black zigzags, the female larger and brown. Adders are the UK's only poisonous snake and on a previous trip one of the students got bitten and was quite poorly afterwards. They can kill pets and it can be serious if a child is bitten. In adults, the affected area turns black and you get flu-like symptoms, plus the bite site can be incredibly painful. Luckily, no bites this time, just plenty of time to watch these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

I wasn't sure how we would top that, but there was still plenty to see. You know I can't go far wherever I am without finding a bee, and sure enough one soon turned up, feeding on the bilberry.....

I'm pretty sure this is a White-Tailed Queen. She has a small tear in her right wing if you look closely. It didn't seem to stop her flying.

There was time for a selfie with the girls....I think the I Phone did quite well.....

And then we headed down the side of Haytor rocks across the moor towards an old quarry site, which has a little micro-climate all of its own....

And there we found Palmate Newts...

Palmate Newt

Fi and Cal looking at a newt
And Common Lizards...

Common Lizard
As well as Red-Tailed Bumblebees and numerous interesting wild flowers. 

Sash, Em, Fi and Andy looking for newts

Cal, Sash, Em and Jack about to fall in the water
We headed back down the hill to the buses....

And everyone had an Ice Cream....

There is no point going on a study tour like this unless you cram the days as full as full can be, so after Haytor we headed off to the River Teign to do some river based ecology, where we did a species count along the banks....

Brown Silver-Lines Moth

Oil Beetle

River Teign

Fungus growing on Sycamore

By the time that was done it was getting late so we headed back to the hostel for supper. I had a stinking headache and retired early to try and read CJ Sansom's Winter In Madrid, which is an excellent book, only I am really struggling to find the time to read it. In the end the headache won and I fell asleep after a couple of pages, so I am still none the wiser about what happens!

Day 3 on its way.....

CT :-)


  1. Wow what a great day of discovering so much wildlife and in good weather too. Amazing to capture the adder too. Sarah x

    1. The adders were a real highlight- we'd all hoped to see one, but two together like that was incredible. Thank goodness the weather stayed fair and dry x

  2. Love Haytor!! Brilliant photos, so many birds and so much wildlife, the pictures of the adders are fantastic, never seen one and to be honest, not sure I want too, lol!!!!

    1. There was so much to see there, a fantastic place. My ma is not a snake fan either but lives in the New Forest, which is full of them! x

  3. Haytor is where I saw my first Adder in Devon so there must be a healthy population! x

    1. We were all so thrilled to see them...a definite highlight of the trip :-)

  4. A wonderful post, CT. I do envy you those adders - I haven't seen one for ages even though I look out for them. I love the skylarks and yellowhammer, too.
    I'd like to re-read Winter in Madrid one day but I've a long list of first-time reads to get through before I do.

    1. The adders were fantastic and we were able to watch them for ages. A real treat.
      I am persevering with Winter In Madrid, alternating with A Place Of Greater Safety. Both excellent, but I really should try and read one first and then the other!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x