Devon – rare mammals and summer wildlife

This short break will introduce us to this beautiful county and give us a chance of seeing some of its splendid mammal-life.

From our base in the village of Chudleigh, where we will stay in a beautiful 17th century cottage set in its own landscaped grounds, we will travel out to visit some of the key habitats of the country.

We will visit the heathlands and meadows of East Devon, where Hobby hunt dragonflies overhead, delicate sundews catch their own insect prey in the damper corners, and the cocky Dartford Warblers sing their scratchy song from gorse tops.

An evening excursion will take us to the River Otter, now famous as the home for England’s only wild European Beavers. We will meet up with conservationists studying this newly established population and (hopefully) enjoy sightings of the family of beavers going about their business.

A visit to the estuary of the River Exe will reveal migrating birds, with a variety of waders, warblers and flycatchers all possible as they head south. After dinner, another evening visit will have us watching the emergence of Greater Horseshoe Bats from their roost sites, with their amazing alien calls revealed by the bat detectors.

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Next morning we will visit a woodland as experts monitor the population of Hazel Dormouse that make use of special nest boxes, as well as finding rare flowers and butterflies before visiting Dartmoor, with its famous ponies.

Dates

15 – 19 August 2018

Leader

Mike Symes 

Price

£625

Single Room Supplement – £80

Included

Four nights’ accommodation, bed and breakfast basis. Local transport as specified in itinerary.

Not included

Travel to Chudleigh, Lunch and evening meals, refreshments and drinks with meals. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Our visit to Devon will give us the opportunity to meet up with local experts and conservationists who will introduce us to some of its wild mammals and the conservation work going on to help them. Along the way we will also look for local wild flowers, reptiles and a good variety of birds at the start of the autumn migration season

Day 1 – We will meet this evening at our hotel in time for an introduction to the holiday and our first dinner together.

Day 2 – We travel eastwards, to explore some of the gems of East Devon including heathland where we will listen for the scratchy song of Dartford Warbler and keep our eyes peeled for reptiles including Sand Lizard and Adder. We also hope to see many species of dragonfly and damselfly including the powder blue Keeled Skimmer. After dinner we will be joined by one of Devon Wildlife Trust’s Beaver Project staff who will lead us along the River Otter as the shadows lengthen.

Day 3 – After a relaxed start to the morning, we will head down to the coast where the lazy River Exe meets the sea at Dawlish Warren where we will be studying the muddy shores for the flocks of passage waders already making their way south, the hedgerows and scrub for  passing warblers and chats, as well as looking for interesting flowers, hopefully including Autumn Lady’s Tresses and the showy Yellow Bartsia. After dinner we have an (optional) visit to watch Greater Horseshoe Bats emerge from their roost.

Day 4 – We join Devon Wildlife Trust volunteers at Andrews Wood as they check the nest boxes on this reserve to monitor the population of Hazel Dormouse. We should all get to see this charismatic, if slightly sleepy little mammal. The meadows here are home to the beautiful Heath Lobelia as well as other interesting wild flowers. Our last afternoon in Devon will be spent on the edges of Dartmoor National Park.

Day 5 – One final breakfast, and then it is time to bid farewell to Glen Cottage and to head home, hopefully taking some good memories of the special creatures and beautiful views of this part of Devon.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders.

Our accommodation will be at Glen Cottage B&B, a 17th century thatched cottage, set in six acres of tranquil gardens with a stream, surrounded by woodland. All rooms have private bathrooms.

We shall be taking packed lunches each day. Evening meals will be taken at our hotel, with an emphasis on local food. Requests for special diets can be accommodated.

Our transport for this trip will be by a small 16-seater coach/minibus.

If you would like to extend your stay in Devon, we can book extra nights accommodation at the B&B, and give advice on good places to visit.

Travel to Chudleigh is not included in this holiday. Glen Cottage is on the outskirts of the village of Chudleigh, which lies 20 minutes south of Exeter just off the A38. If travelling by train, we can arrange for a shared taxi from Exeter (cost not included).

The English weather is of course anything but predictable. We should expect warm and sunny conditions, although who knows, the weather could be blazing sunshine one day, and cold and wet on the next! We will adapt our itinerary to the weather. It can be ‘breezy’ or even windy on the coast at times. We will not walk for long in hot or adverse weather conditions. Evenings may feel chillier, especially when we are stood waiting patiently for a sighting of a beaver or bat.

We will be walking for much of the day, each day, albeit at a slow pace and never covering any great distance. In some locations ‘facilities’ are scarce! You therefore need to have a reasonably good level of fitness although none of the walks are strenuous. There are likely to be steps at the hotel.