Bumblebees and bogs

A surprising find on the moor yesterday, near the head of Ludbrook: ten or more bumblebees in a grassy, mossy nest. There were also lots of dragonflies and damselflies, in particular gold-ringed dragonflies patrolling up and down the brook too fast for photos. Meadow brown and large skipper butterflies were in the long grass beside the lower moorland…

South Milton to Thurlestone

There is a small patch of pyramidal orchids where the coast path passes South Milton Ley nature reserve, and swathes of greater knapweed with occasional agrimony. A solitary specimen of black horehound in the hedge opposite the cafe at South Milton sands. The leaves emit a pungent smell when crushed. Prickly blue sea holly is related to the more common wild…

Garden wildlife

Lucy found some eggs on a bay leaf. After a night in the kitchen, they had hatched into tiny beetles, each only a millimetre or two long. They are common green shield bugs apparently. A gold-ringed dragonfly by the pond, and a white plume moth. Ringlet butterfly

To the station and back

A poppy near the church in Bittaford, and some more poppy buds and capsules further on. All along the verge there are patches of zigzag clover, which is less common than white and red clovers but is plentiful here. Note the tapering, pointed stipules and widely spaced brightly coloured petals. Another interesting flower is agrimony, its tall…

Damselflies and darters

Lucy and I spent a couple of hours surrounded by damselflies and dragonflies at DWT Bovey Heathfield nature reserve. Many damselflies are bright blue and can be distinguished by the shape of the black mark on the second abdominal segment, which means taking a photo from above while they are still. Easier said than done….

South Brent island

There were loads of common red soldier beetles on hogweed and yarrow at the Island.   This is a broad centurion, a type of soldier fly. They are called soldier flies because of their brightly coloured ‘uniforms’. Broad centurion males have bronze abdomens, like this one. Females have blue-green abdomens. This moth is a beautiful golden Y….


This is cheating a bit, but I couldn’t resist taking photos of flowers while at a conference in Helsinki. Lupins were stunning on the roadside verges from the airport to the city, and in Helsinki’s parks, along with lilac and occasional wild pansies. Lots of flowers on the island of Suomenlinna, including some interesting plants…


In woods near South Brent last weekend, we saw five specimens of the rare greater butterfly orchid. Many thanks are due to the man walking dogs who offered to show us the first one. There was also a specimen of rather late early purple orchid. Beaked hawksbeard Common sorrel Marsh thistles


At Bantham last weekend, admiring the large clumps of kidney vetch, sheep’s bit, thrift and sea campions seemingly growing out of bare rock on the cliffs. The most exciting find was a somewhat sorry looking specimen of the Nationally Scarce balm-leaved figwort. Annoyingly, I failed to get a decent photo of the flowers but you can…

Dartmoor evening

A beautiful evening on the moor. Tiny leaves of sundew are poking through the boggy moss and eyebrights and sheep’s sorrel are flowering.


There is a large patch of Russian comfrey just past the top of Green Lane and it was humming with bumblebees. Two species were present (assuming my ID is correct). The shaggy yellow one in the top left picture with a gingery tail is Bombus pratorum, one of the first bumblebees to appear in the spring and quite…

Ragged robin

A single flower of ragged robin has appeared in the boggy patch at the edge of the pond. I had scattered some seeds there from ragged robin in mum and dad’s field. I’m pleased I restrained myself from pulling up the seedlings, which look like slightly twisted willowherb.