Wildlife and Management Log

Wheatland Farm Eco Lodges

Seen some good  wildlife? Tell us or tweet us @WheatlandFarm, with a pic if possible! Remember, what gets noted depends a lot on where people are – so have a good wander around the farm at all times of the day (and night?).

This page also acts as the Wheatland Farm management diary Lots of the stories have more info and pictures in the Buzz section of the Wheatland Farm website.

We keep this page as a rolling archive, looking back over the past 12 months at Wheatland Farm. Older entries can be found here: 2019 partial archive, 2018 or the 2017/2016 Wheatland Farm Wildlife Sightings and Management Archive

March at Wheatland Farm

28 March. A bumble bee survey (all within our own property, so no lock down flouted). Hairy footed flower bees are out and about. An early bumblebee and 3 buff tailed bumblebees plus one seen flying too high to identify. 2 snipe, one on Lower Newland Moor, one on Popehouse Moor. Cutting some patches in the pond field with the brush cutter – this time the ‘left several years’ bits, especially where they are starting to go to bramble by the pond itself. Also, topping old stems and tree saplings in the wildflower strip alongside the pond, just to the north of the mown path.

27 March Tree creeper in the orchard. Burning the cut brambles on Popehouse Moor.

26 March. Marsh /Willow tit seen by the back door. Cut another bramble patch on Popehouse Moor – there is plenty of work there to do. At present, you can still see into the patches and be sure there are no nests. A fog hopped away as I was cutting, peacock and comma butterflies are around, and dark edged bee flies (could see the wing pattern in photos).

25 March bee fly nectaring on forget me not by the farmhouse, near the bank where the mining bees are numerous (up to 10 at a time). Not sure which species, as it didn’t hang around long enough to see close up.

24 March. Clearing up the previously cut brambles on Popehouse Moor, and burning them. Fire almost got out of hand. Peacock butterflies, a raven croaking chiff chaff calling.

21 March. Mowing patches in the field below Balebarn Lodge, for land management purposes as much as aesthetics, as cornonavirus means most guests are cancelling. But not the wildlife!

20 March. Finally, some of the grass is dry enough to mow with the brushcutter. We did the orchard patches, and the late lawns in the lodge field.

19 March. 5 new bird boxes put up around Wheatland Farm. More evidence of something eating frogs at the wildlife pond, but nothing notable on the camera.

18 March. Nuthatches are mudding up the opening hole of the nest box by Honeysuckle Lodge. Here’s a link to last year’s brood.

17 March. Planted 5 new whips of alder buckthorn, food plant of the brimstone butterfly – two between Beech Lodge and Nuthatch Lodge and 3 at the edge of the field below Balebarn Lodge.

16 March. First Chiff chaff heard singing – on Popehouse Moor. It was a beautiful sunny day, and a brimstone butterfly was flying near Beech Lodge. Another butterfly, with dark underwings, so perhaps a red admiral, was flitting about near Balebarn Lodge. Maggie was bramble bashing low growth on Popehouse Moor, near the entrance. Further along, long tailed tits were nesting in gorse. Maggie also beheaded a few thistles near the labyrinth, and a red tailed bumblebee queen flew up, perhaps disturbed from hibernation. Buff tailed bumblebee queens are becoming more routine sightings on sunny days. The corona virus is dominating the human headlines, but spring is unfurling oblivious to the disruption.

8 March more evidence of something eating frogs down at the pond. Wildlife cameraman Mark Smith says in Scotland otters dismember frogs… could we have an aquatic visitor? It’s a bit gruesome, but for the record, here’s what the carnage looks like.

7 March pruning back the copper beech in the old farmyard, so as to give the apple tree there more light. Two more bumblebees spotted. One was clearly a buff tailed bumblebee, the other appeared to have a black tail, so not sure what that was. Perhaps a trick of the light.

5 March parties of goldfinch still coming to the teasel heads.

3 March. Dry enough to mow with the brush cutter, so did parts of the orchard on both sides of the road. Buff tailed bumblebee queen nectaring on winter flowering honeysuckle near Beech Lodge. Still some we days ahead.

February at Wheatland Farm

27 February buff tailed bumblebee queen flying in the sunshine.

26 February – something has been eating frogs at the pond – a good number (>10?) of ripped apart frogs in the shallows by the eastern reed bed.

14-24 February We were away. Several stormy days in our absence. But the thrushes are still singing in the dusk on our return.

8 February the crocuses have started flowering. We continue to pull typha from the fishing pond.

7 February Song thrushes in full song in the trees – spring is coming. Pulling Typha from the fishing pond. Guests leaving Honeysuckle Lodge told his they’d been thrilled to watch foxes just outside the lodge.

6 February – a sunny day, so we burnt the previously cut brambles on Popehouse Moor, far end. The actual bonfire was at SS6472609657 . Here are a couple of reference images.

After scrub clearing and bramble bashing, Popehouse Moor SSSI February 2020
After scrub clearing and bramble bashing, Popehouse Moor SSSI February 2020 – for comparison with ‘before’ image recorded below.

We also continued cutting the late lawns., doing several patches: the circle in front of Honeysuckle Lodge, the patch with the iron flowers between Honeysuckle and Nuthatch Lodges, and the section to the east of the lodge field, near Beech Lodge and the phragmites scrape.

4 February We used the new brush cutter to start restablishing our ‘late lawns’, which will be cut through the season until late summer. We hope to establish more birds foot trefoil and devil’s bit scabious here. The brush cutter has a high blade, so lots of grass is left, and just the straggly top trimmed back. Today we did the area in the field below Balebarn Lodge around the labyrinth. We also did some rough grassland management, restablishing the fire site for Balebarn Lodge, and clearing back near the phragmites scrapes in the pond field.

3 February Pulling Typha from the fishing pond by Otter Cottage. The intention is to return more open water, but to leave a central ‘island’ of typha for nesting moorhens – central in the hope that the water will provide some protection from dogs and foxes.

1 February – a spot of ongoing path weeding behind the lodges.

January at Wheatland Farm

28 January – weeding Otter Cottage flower bed – largely pulling out dead montbretia stems. Also weeded more of the lodge path.

27 January more work managing the bank beyond Otter Cottage, largely with a scythe to cut back encroaching brambles.

25 January More scrub bashing on Popehouse Moor, far end. Woodcock flew up from the woods near the entrance to the moor, and another from the fringe of the wood at the far end.

24 January. Used the brushcutter to mow the turbine walk – this is going to make ongoing maintenance much easier. Cut a trail patch of rushes around the turbine itself. It looks like this mower will make much lighter work of patch management.

21 January 2 woodcock on Popehouse Moor, and a flock of about 30+ fieldfares on Lower Newland Moor. We’re starting to cut brambles at the far end of Popehouse Moor – too wet to use any kind of machinery so it has to be with a scythe. For the record, here’s what it looked like as we got started. We knew this was a priority for this winter, but it was also recommended by the botanists from the Devonshire Association who visited Wheatland Farm last summer.

Today we also started clearing the bank of the fishing pond near Otter Cottage – where last year we found a mourning bee. This is something we do every year to keep brambles in check. Today we found what we think is a harvest mouse nest – we’ve found these around Wheatland Farm before too. We suppose it could also be a dormouse nest – but it didn’t seem quite big enough. Found about 40cm off the ground in bramble and rose, made using montbretia leaves. Definitely a woven nest, but also definitely empty.

We mowed the grass at Otter Cottage too. The smell of freshly mown grass….OK in its own way, but it’s not very January…

20 January a hare and 2 foxes seen on Popehouse Moor. We were burning the brambles cut back on 9th.

19 January tree creeper seen near Beech Lodge

18 January a snow drop is out by Beech Lodge, but most of them have not yet pushed through. A couple of daffodils are in flower by the pond next to Otter Cottage.

17 Winter clearing work by Balebarn Lodge, and in the undergrowth we found this enormous puff ball. We wish we’d seen it last year when it was fresh. The ‘size nine’ is for scale! The main task for the day was to cut the willow below the power lines. It’s always been the plan to keep these low.

Gigantic puff ball spotted January 2020 at Wheatland Farm, Devon

12 January planted an ‘Old Man’s Beard’ – a native clematis, at Honeysuckle Lodge.

11 January, still working on weeding the lodge path.

10 January burning some of the brambles we cut back from near the car park.

9 January cutting 2 patches of brambles on Popehouse Moor, towards the western end.

2 January: Cutting the red willow back on the wildlife pond island below Balebarn. Last year we left this too late, and a mallard was already nesting, meaning we couldn’t give the willow their ‘haircut’. We have used some of the willow in the lodge field, alongside the track at the western edge, where it will hopefully produce some winter colour in due course.

December at Wheatland Farm

29 December – saw a butterfly briefly in the sunshine near Balebarn Lodge. Can’t be sure what it was, possibly peacock. We were out enjoying the Devon sunshine too, and tidying up some of the dead plant material near the small ponds.

25 December, sowing some poppy seeds in the lodge field. Wheatland Farm’s Christmas guests are enjoying the sunshine, with the windows open.

24 December We’ve spotted daffodil leaves poking through the leaves along the driveway.

14 December starting the annual task of weeding the lodge path.

7 December – Despite being busy cleaning, we are on high alert as a friend of a friend called to say the Eggesford Hunt were out just to the North of Wheatland Farm.

6 December 3 snipe on Lower Newland Moor

3 December A red admiral butterfly is enjoying winter sunshine on the ivy by Otter Cottage. We have started clearing fallen leaves from the track through the lodge field, and from the seasonal pond area, so they don’t kill the grass.

2 December 5 snipe seen on Lower Newland Moor

November at Wheatland Farm

28 November. Whoo Hoo! We won Silver in the Devon Tourism Awards for Ethical, responsible and Sustainable Tourism.

26 November. Some more unknown fungi species to note, all from Popehouse Moor, spotted as we checked camera traps.

23 November Eggesford Hunt meeting at Kingsland. No notice given to us by the hunt, but thankfully no incursions either.

22 November having to take the afteroon to check the boundaries of Popehouse Moor, and look for disturbance to fox and badger setts, as we’ve been alerted to a Eggesford Hunt meeting at Kingsland tomorrow.

18 November, a red admiral and a queen buff tailed bumblebee making the most of late autumn sunshine and the ivy growing opposite Otter Cottage. We are bramble bashing near the fishing pond, clearing several year’s growth and also maintaining the overflow between the fishing pond and the secluded pond. Ravens calling.

17 November Great Spotted Woodpecker on the peanuts

16 November – those leaves just keep on coming down along the lodge path.

13 November – we brought in the chess table for the winter, and put it in the barn where the piano wind chime is. Took a scythe to the long grass under the young trees by Beech Lodge – should have done it earlier really, but now at least the snow drops will be able to push through.

8 November Common Carder Bee in the orchard behind Wheatland Farmhouse.

7 November, a kingfisher at the fishing pond by Otter Cottage, and a red admiral along the hedgerows. Pied wagtails are gathering in small flocks. Pretty little fungi are growing in the orchard behind Wheatland Farmhouse. We think these are some kind of wax cap. 

October at Wheatland Farm

29 October – a chance to mow the labyrinth. We’re now sweeping up leaves at every opportunity.

22 October grey wagtails are around – that’s a new bird species for Wheatland Farm

16 October. Southern Hawker, still looking splendid, resting on brambles near Balebarn Lodge.

An afternoon bee walk turned up no bumblebees, but we did see a single common carder on a late thistle earlier in the day. Cutting grass in the field below Balebarn Lodge with a scythe as it’s now too wet for anything else. Patches where we know there are devils bit scabious and birdsfoot trefoil staring to establish need a late cut. Ravens calling. One pied wagtail on the wire, but as yet no roost gathering. There was a small puff ball in the woods today.

15 October Fungi in the orchard. Unkown species.

Unknown fungi, from the Wheatland Farm orchard, 15 October 2019

11 October Pretty Pink fungi – we don’t know what kind, so are recording them here. They were poking up through leaf litter near the lodge path.

Fungi growing near the lodge path at Wheatland Farm, 11 October 2019

8 October. A migrant hawker, apparently egg laying, near the fishing pond outside Otter Cottage – not a terribly good choice for her perhaps, because of the voracious fish.

6 October – a dragonfly count found only one common darter at the big wildlife pond – the season is drawing in.

4 October – plenty of red admiral butterflies.

2 October. Migrant hawker dragonflies at the wildlife pond below Balebarn Lodge – this time we even got a picture! Ravens calling their ponk ponk call. Red admiral butterflies are enjoying the fallen apples, a comma butterfly has been basking on the wall of the workshop, and a speckled wood butterfly wandered into Wheatland Farmhouse through an open window. After a few wet days, we’re enjoying a day of Devon sunshine.

September at Wheatland Farm

30 September Southern hawker dragonfly out and about between the rain showers, and a kestrel overhead.

28 September. Weasel by the Wheatland Farmhouse back door! Red admiral butterflies enjoying the apples. Two crows mobbing a bird of prey calling kek kek kek kek kek kek. Sounded a lot like a goshawk. That could be wishful thinking, but worth noting here anyway. Swallows still seen.

24 September. We got the post mortem report on a young buzzard back from the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme. This was a young bird we found on the ground back in March 2018. The report says it died of starvation – no sign of death from rat poison, so that’s a silver lining.

22 September Warblers still at the farm – a willow warbler / chiff chaff was hunting out insects on the pergola woodwork at Otter Cottage.

20 September. Still plenty of butterflies – speckled wood, and a few small tortoiseshell.

19 September –   Mowed the labyrinth below Balebarn Lodge and pulled some weeds.

18 September – mowed long grass in the orchard with the max strength mower. Left some ‘fresh’ grass for the butterflies but tackled the patches left over winter last year. Pulling creeping thistles near the wildlife pond. Kestrel seen overhead.

17 September Kingfisher seen again – this time at the big wildlife pond.

16 opened gate to Lower Newland Moor now Popehouse Moor is looking fairly well grazed again.

15 September Hummingbird hawkmoth visiting the honeysuckle in Otter Cottage garden.

13 September pulling thistles in the lodge field.  Kingfisher seen at the fishing pond.

12 September mowing patches in the lodge field with the long grass mower. 

9 September Planted a few native wild daffodils in Wheatland Farm’s garden – given to us by Kim in Hollocombe from some the squirrels dug up in her garden.

8 September Common darter, southern hawker, migrant hawker and even a common hawker (not so common actually) at the wildlife pond, plus common blue damselflies. Common blue butterflies still around in decent numbers.

7 September – time to do a bit of judicious weeding around the lodges. Every time we think how much easier it would be to spray – but that’s something we’re committed to keeping to an absolute minimum at Wheatland Farm.

3 September – scythe the grass patch at the back of the farmhouse where snowdrops and crocuses come in early spring (and support early bumblebees).

2 September – more patch mowing. Ian has been taking the hedge trimmer to encroaching brambles along the southern border of the lodge field.

1 September – mowing the southern patch in the lodge field. We’ve decided to keep this a ‘graze until August’ patch next year, and see if we can encourage late flowering plants like birds foot trefoil, devil’s bit scabious and ox eye daisies. 

August at Wheatland Farm

31 August 8 species of dragon/damselfly at the pond. A good number of common blue butterflies on the bank by the wildlife pond – at least 5.

30 August 7 species of bumblebee seen on the bee walk, done with Kim’s help. Ian says guests have been seeing the barn owl in the past few days.

23 August Pyrausta purpuralis (mint moth) near wildlife pond. Many dragonflies at the pond too. Swallows mobbing a sparrow hawk over the orchard again.

21 August barn owl seen hunting at dusk in the Lodge field.

20 August 8 species of damsel/dragonfly at the pond. Huge elephant hawkmoth caterpillars nearby, plus the kingfisher seen several times at the fishing pond.

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar at Wheatland Farm

18 August Kingfisher spotted at fishing pond by Otter Cottage.

15 August sparrow hawk being mobbed by swallows over the old Wheatland Farm farmyard.

13 August having just thought that there weren’t many small copper butterflies this year, we spotted a gorgeously bright one just below Balebarn Lodge.

12 August Dragonfly watch at the wildlife pond found southern hawker, migrant hawker, emperor, common darter, common blue damselfly, azure damselfly, emerald damselfly, blue tailed damselfly.

4 August 2 more ‘big butterfly counts’ found the following species in the lodge field and the field below Balebarn Lodge: Clouded yellow (first for the year), meadow brown, small white, speckled wood, common blue, gatekeepers, small skippers, ringlet, green veined white, brimstone, painted lady, comma – and a silver Y moth. The fish pond near Otter Cottage is turning a bit milky – it did this last year in late summer so we think it is some kind of seasonal bloom.

1 August managing ash die back along the lodge path. Dragonfly counts: emperor, southern hawker, Damselflies: azure, common blue, blue tailed. The grass is ‘going over’, but when you walk through it, clouds of moths rise up.

July at Wheatland Farm

31 July First southern hawker dragonfly of the year seen, in the lodge field. Cutting back a fallen willow tree over the fence near Honeysuckle Lodge. Gathering dock heads before the seeds fall. Scything brambles along the north/south track in the lodge field. The brimstone butterfly emerged!

25 July Humming bird hawk moth around the farm house – a  rare sighting here. Common blue butterfly and a silver washed fritillary on Popehouse Moor (plus red admiral, comma, skippers, speckled wood, peacock, brimstone, green veined white, large white, meadow brown, ringlets). Management work incl. scything in the lodge field (one side of the path to Beech Lodge, and the ‘circle’ in front of Honeysuckle Lodge).

24 July Dragonflies: Emperor, golden ring, broadbodied chaser, common darter. Damselflies: azure, common blue, blue tailed.  Great spotted woodpecker on the feeder at Honeysuckle Lodge while we were pulling creeping thistle. Sparrow hawk in the old farm yard. Started a monthly Bee Walk for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

23 July Scything verges in the lodge field. Collecting ox eye daisy and yellow rattle seeds, and cutting back flower heads in the old farm yard.

17 July Red admirals, gate keepers, meadow browns, ringlets, small skipper, small white, large white. Willow tits (or were they marsh tits?) on Popehouse Moor, and also seen visiting the feeder at Otter Cottage.

15 July first common blue butterflies of the year seen in the orchard. Marbled white spotted there too.

11 July a rogue Himalayan Balsam plant spotted in the new wildflower patch by Wheatland Farmhouse – and pulled out. Must have come in with the digger. We will have to be vigilant. There’s a fledgling song thrush in the bushes along the lodge path. First emerald dragonfly of the season has emerged from the pond. Masses of butterflies are enjoying the sunshine, including a painted lady and a red admiral  engaging in regular skirmishes over the nettles at the far end of the orchard. We started cutting long grass in the orchard – it’ll be a long piecemeal job.

10 July Checking cows on Popehouse Moor – one marbled white butterfly, one silver washed fritillary. Also saw a marbled white in both the field below Balebarn Lodge and the main lodge field. Scything the bank to the side of Balebarn, and a buffer strip along the main path in the lodge field. Female emperor dragonfly hunting over the lodge field. Lots of dragonflies at the wildlife pond. Lovely red poplar beetle in the young trees by Beech Lodge.

9 July scything bank in front of Balebarn Lodge, and adding some more oxeye daisy and hawksbit seed for more flowers in future years. Watering the new wildflower area with well water. Excited to find a marbled white butterfly below Balebarn Lodge – probably a male. Ian took the battery down to the electric fence on Popehouse Moor, and saw two more marbled whites and 2 silver washed fritillaries. A good day for Butterflies!

7 July Awesome bumblebee activity on the poppies near the Wheatland farm house

5 July masses of spiky peacock butterfly caterpillars on the nettles near the wildlife pond – where a couple of weeks ago we consistently saw an adult peacock butterfly. 

4 July Brown china mark moth at wildife pond – interesting this species has aquatic larvae. ‘Gardening’ around the lodges turned up a dark arches moth. Abundant dragonflies at the pond – 9 species incl one migrant hawker – a bit early for those. Emperor dragonflies are laying eggs into the water weed. Ian getting Popehouse Moor ready for the cows. 

2 July: 5 emperor and at least 7 for spotted chasers at the wildlife pond below Balebarn Lodge. Also many azure, common blue, blue tail damselflies. Working on clearing the grass along path from the pond to the lodge field. Mowed the labyrinth.

1 July unknown moth spotted near Balebarn Lodge. Looks like a magpie, but not quite.

June at Wheatland Farm and #30DaysWild

30 June Wild escape for the last of this year’s #30DaysWild – but to Dartmoor. Butterflies at Wheatland Farm: painted ladies, 1 speckled wood, red admiral, large skipper, ringlet, meadow brown.

29 June The alder buckthorn we planted between Honeysuckle and Nuthatch lodges to encourage brimstone butterflies has been decimated by caterpillars. We hope the plants themselves will survive!

28 June Green hairstreak seen on Popehouse Moor, near the entrance. Six species of dragon and damselflies at the new pond scrapes (and 2 more at the main pond).

27 June  Little Green Bug

26 June Taking a day to lobby our MP in London for wildlife.

25 June Scything along the drive. Plenty of painted ladies flying on Popehouse Moor SSSI, the turbine field and around the Wheatland Farm wildlife pond. Ian attending a rush management event at a local Devon farm. The brambles are in full flower – the insects are loving it.

24 June Painted ladies (buttterflies) have suddenly arrived in this part of Devon. Emperor, broad bodied chaser, azure, common blue and blue tailed damsel/dragonflies at pond. Red admiral butterfly on driveway.

23 June – a wet day in Devon.

22 June First small tortoiseshell butterfly of the year seen at Wheatland Farm. Large skippers also on the wing. Emperor dragonflies are now at the pond, and are ovipositing (laying eggs). Common Darter, Broad Bodied Chaser (dragonflies) and common blue, azure, large red, and blue tailed damselflies are all to be seen.

21 June Happy Solstice! The wild roses are flowering at Wheatland Farm. Black tailed skimmer dragonfly seen in the field below Balebarn Lodge.

20 June lots of bumblebees on the marsh thistles, and one unusual one – could be a very pale version of a male early bumblebee.

19 June our #30DaysWild for today is a training day with the Devon Countryside Access Forum – exploring the Pegasus Trail.

18 June Visiting the cows is quite interactive these days! Patch mowing in the lodge field and below Balebarn Eco Lodge. Scything part of the drive. 

17 June A dark bush cricket jumped into the hot tub and needed rescuing. The annual toad and frog exodus is just beginning at the Wheatland Farm wildlife pond. 

16 June Revisiting the teasels we planted last year

15 June patch mowing in the lodge field, until rain stopped play. Watching baby blue tits, coal tits, nuthatches and great spotted woodpecker all coming to the feeder at Honeysuckle Lodge.

14 June Scything a few more patches of grass along the driveway, but leaving birdsfoot trefoil in particular, so it can flower and set seed. Rather bedraggled peacock butterfly elicits sympathy for everyone nearly finished with their GCSEs

12 June scattered some lousewort seeds from Popehouse Moor on Lower Newland Moor: 6542609842, 6451609850 ,6448609849, 6446209845, 6452509850, 6457009839 and at one place in the turbine field: 6458409981. Feeding Wheatland Farm’s favourite blackbird for 30DaysWild.

11 June A bowl full of birdsong at Wheatland Farm

10 June A moment for admiring thistles.

9 June The Devonshire Association’s botany and entomology sections did some surveys at Wheatland Farm. We don’t have the full lists yet, but we know a nationally scarce spider turned up, a hoverfly that lives in ants nests, and lots of good culm grassland flowers, including plenty of Wavy St John’s Wort – and this common lizard.

8 June Spotting long horn moths in a near by hedgerow Grey heron at the fishing pond.

7 June Making ‘bee hotels’ – starting a bee wall at Wheatland Farm. A hobby seen overhead – hunting dragonflies??

6 June Spotting a water shrew at the wildlife pond

5 June Poppies for DDay remembrance

4 June Pulling nettles in front of Balebarn Lodge, and admiring Foxgloves in the rain!

3 June Plenty of patch mowing in the lodge field. And the first meadow brown butterfly of the season at Wheatland Farm

2 June Water stick insect at the Wildlife Pond

1 June #30DaysWild starts today! We’ll be going wilder than ever, with lots of #10WildMinutes thrown in for good measure.

May at Wheatland Farm

31 May first large skipper butterfly of the year at Wheatland Farm – seen on Popehouse Moor. Woodpecker seen at the Nuthatch Lodge feeder.

30 May Barn owl hunting over Popehouse Moor at dusk (10pm)

29 May Cows return to Wheatland Farm for the summer’s grazing

28 May dragonflies and damselflies becoming common at the pond – and starting to lay eggs for next year!

27 May Great Spotted Woodpecker nest on the boundary of Popehouse Moor

26 Good to know Wheatland Farm still has hedgehogs!

23 May Nuthatches seen feeding at the nestbox hole, outside Honeysuckle Lodge.

21 May dingy skipper again seen near the pond below Balebarn Lodge. Not especially pretty to look at, but worth noting for its scarcity, hence picture. Azure and blue tailed damselflies. Brimstone butterflies, orange tips, speckled wood.

Dingy skipper butterfly

20 May a sparrow hawk took something from the conifer in front of Otter Cottage.

19 Banded demoiselle spotted below the wildlife pond. Four spot chaser, and azure damselflies also on the wing, plus large red damselflies. The sparrows are busy at the pond catching newly emerged damselflies in mid-flight.

18 May beautiful demoiselle, large red and azure damselflies on Popehouse Moor.

16 May four spot chaser newly emerged at pond. Small copper butterfly – first seen for this year. Peacock, whites, orange tip also seen. A few teneral damselflies, probably azure.

14 May. Wow! Red Kite seen overhead at 4.10 pm. These are still fairly unusual in Devon.

13 May large red damselfly and a male and a female azure damselfly. Brimstone, peacock butterflies.

11 May, large red damselfly at the main wildlife pond below Balebarn Lodge, plus 2 other damselflies not identified. Peacock, orange tip, and green veined white butterfies are about. Lots of common carder bees on Popehouse Moor (on lousewort) and on bugle behind the lodges. Squirrels in the owl box in the lodge field, more’s the pity.

10 May 2 mallard familes now with chicks – 14 in one brood on the main wildlife pond.

9 May Dingy Skipper, and a  mourning bee ( again seen near Otter Cottage)

5 May Dingy skipper spotted near the wildlife pond. The first we’ve seen at Wheatland Farm.

3 May Common Lizard spotted sunning itself near Balebarn Lodge! Patch mowing. Yellow rattle is really pushing up now.

2 May there is a squirrel in the owl box on Popehouse Moor.

1 May – a ‘mourning bee’ spotted near otter cottage. These striking black and white bees parasitise the hairy footed flower bees we have living in an old cob wall.

April at Wheatland Farm

28 April common carder bees feeding on lousewort on Popehouse Moor. Roe deer spotted there too. The blue bells are out in the woods. Today’s bird list includes: black bird, wood pigeon, chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, crow, pheasant, wilow warbler, chiff chaff, dunnock, song thrush, bullfinch, goldfinch, wren, nuthatch, robin, tree creeper, black cap, canada goose, magpie.

25 April barnowl calling to the east of farmhouse.

23 April pretty streamer moth spotted in the woodland on Popehouse Moor. Not rare, but striking. This species feeds on dog rose as a caterpillar.

20 April it looks like the stoat has taken to stealing eggs again. George spotted it running past the house and found an empty chicken egg shell.

19 April peacocks, brimstones, small white and speckled wood all flying. No damselflies yet though. Willow/Marsh tit near the house carrying nesting material.

18 April Heron on the fishing pond in the early morning.

17 April Orange tips, a comma or two, speckled wood and peacock butterflies in the field below Balebarn enjoying a sunny afternoon. Swallows drinking from the pond, and perhaps catching St Mark’s flies, which have emerged on cue. Patch mowing in the Lodge field and below the pond.

16 Hairy footed flower bees are nectaring outside Otter Cottage.

10 April willow warbler and black cap (female and male) seen for the first time this year. There’s still a male reed bunting at the pond, and a red/pink day flying moth went fluttering by – not sure the species though. Garden bumblebee spotted near Otter Cottage – bringing Wheatland Farm to at least 5 species of bumblebee (tree, early, garden, red tailed, buff tailed – maybe one other too).

9 April bat survey started (3 nights) near magic pond.

8 April Holly blue seen on ivy by Otter Cottage – first of year. Burning cut rush and bramble on Popehouse Moor.

6 April Small white butterfly seen in front of Beech Lodge – first of year.

5 April Snipe again seen on Popehouse Moor, but this time near the ‘magic pond’

4 April snipe still to be seen on Popehouse Moor. Cutting rushes and low brambles.

3 April there’s a long tailed tit nest on Popehouse Moor – looking fresh.  Speckled wood, orange tip, a comma, and plenty of peacock butterflies have all been seen in recent days.