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18.10.14 Dodging the raindrops.

20 October 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized

A late update on two of our recent events. From the number of enquiries I had received the search for owls under a full moon on October 8th looked like it was going to be a popular event. However on the night the lashing rain no doubt put many people off. It certainly put me of! - and, as I tried to shelter under a holly bush by The Pells I wondered if anyone would turn up. Then - right on cue - the rain stopped, a crowd arrived and the clouds parted to reveal a full moon on the rise. After an introduction to British owls we headed off from The Pells (where we picked up Daubenton's bats on our bat detector) and walked towards Offham. We found more bats along the route, afox and heard a female tawny owl as we passed through Landport. It was quite an amazing night, calm, mild and illuminated by the giant moon. It felt great to be out exploring the woods.

Moonlight in Landport
Moonlight in Landport

I thought I had used up all my luck on the weather for the owl walk. On Friday I headed toward the meeting point for our Ashcombe Bottom walk as the rain lashed down again. However, as we gathered for the walk, the rain subsided and the sun came out. For today's walk we were joined by Lee Walther from the National Trust who led us to Blackcap and Ashcombe Bottom and gave us a guided tour of both these great National Trust properties.

Exmoor ponies grazing at Blackcap
Exmoor ponies grazing at Blackcap

At Blackcap Lee told us about the grazing programme that is helping restore the precious chalk grassland habitat in this area and we met the team that were doing the job - the Exmoor ponies. We then descended into Blackcap - an amazing woodland hidden away in a downland valley.

Spindle in Ashcombe Bottom
Spindle in Ashcombe Bottom

Lee gave us a guided tour of the wood and took us to meet some of Ashcombe's oldest residents - veteran trees which have survived here for hundreds of years.

Lee Walther takes us on a tour of Ashcombe Bottom.
Lee Walther takes us on a tour of Ashcombe Bottom.

There were still plenty of butterflies enjoying the break in the rain. Wall brown, clouded yellow, comma and red admiral were all on the wing. As we stopped for lunch we watch a flock of swallows heading through the valley on their way out of England.

We continued the walk back to Landport Bottom. Thank you to Lee for leading the walk and to all those who attended. As I headed home after the walk the rain started.

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