Our favourite nature event has to be the total lunar eclipse this month named the Super Blood Moon. We have no light pollution here in Dittiscombe valley so our dark skies are dotted with stars, and sometimes we see the Milky Way too. Last night was no exception. With clear skies the stars were standout bright but the normally blue-white of the moon was gradually replaced by a strange and slightly eerie orangey red shadow. Our photo doesn’t do justice to the mysterious and mystical atmosphere this created in the sky.
The roundness and redness of the super moon reminds us of our apples, quietly ripening on the trees in the orchard!
Dittiscombe valley has not settled down into full Autumn mellowness yet: it is still quite green, thanks to all the rain during the Summer, with splashes of dark pinks, reds and oranges standing out amongst this lushness. The Red Valerian, which first flowers in June and which we prune back to give a second or even third flush of flowers in the Autumn, happily provides a late food source for all insects. On warm days we enjoy watching Small Tortoiseshells, Red Admirals and Hummingbird Hawkmoths dancing and resting on the flower heads. Clumps of Sedums are a magnet for the bees and hoverflies, offering up their flat deep pink heads for insect visitors. The Cotoneasters, having been covered with blossom and inundated with bees and bumblebees in the Spring, are now heavy with red berries waiting to be picked by the Blackbird.
This month grass cutting and raking is taking place around the ponds and meadows and we see many frogs, large and small, escaping into more dense vegetation under the shrubs. This food source has encouraged grass snakes out for a snack, and with the recent sunny days we have almost trodden on a couple as they stretch out (some are almost 3 feet long) on the patios near the cottages for a spot of sunbathing!
Recently a brief visit from a Cormorant reminded us that we may well have some tasty treats of small fish, possibly sticklebacks, in our ponds. We normally see these rather shy birds sitting on the rocks drying their wings at Thurlestone, but we welcome all creatures to our valley at Dittiscombe!
Wildlife can be seen almost all year round within the valley at Dittiscombe and we provide a nature map and guide books so that guests can identify their ‘finds’. If you’d like to know more about what you might find at Dittiscombe visit our Gardens & Woodlands page. There are also more birdwatching opportunities at the freshwater lagoon at Slapton Ley (just 2 miles from Dittiscombe) and on the unspoilt beaches of Start Bay.