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Reserves - Emsworthy Mire

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Key Information

Grid reference/Postcode
SX 745 765

nr Widecombe-in-the-moor


Unimproved acid grassland, valley mire, ancient woodland, freshwater stream

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Emsworthy Mire

See a priceless carpet of bluebells at one of Dartmoor's most glorious wildlife sites

The upper slopes consist primarily of dry unimproved grassland grazed by sheep and ponies. Numerous hawthorn trees are found across these fields providing abundant food for birds. The small internal fields here are defined by dry stone walls which are slowly being repaired. Almost half of this 98 hectare site is formed of the wet valley mire with a small stream called Becka Brook running along the bottom. The mire has a number of plant communities including a mosaic of dwarf shrubs (heathers, bilberry and western gorse), large tussocks of purple moor grass interspersed with rushes and sedge and areas of Sphagnum and other mosses. The mire contains many uncommon plant species such as round leaved sundew, bog asphodel,and bogbean.

Running alongside the Becka Brook and on some of the upper edge of the mire is a stretch of willow trees. Toads, frogs and adders are abundant within the lower and upper mire areas. Invertebrate species include the rare marsh fritillary butterfly, the caterpillars of which feed exclusively on the Devil’s bit scabious plant present in the mire, the narrow bordered bee hawkmoth, the bog hoverfly and the small pearl bordered fritillary. The wet areas also attract a number of dragonfly and damselfly species including the scarce keeled skimmer. Barn owls have often been seen at Emsworthy and barn owl nest boxes have recently been placed in the barn that is present on the site.  Other birds that can be seen or heard regularly on the reserve during the summer include cuckoos, tree and meadow pipits, whinchats, stonechats, grasshopper warblers and mistle thrushes. During the winter you may see golden plovers, lapwings, woodcocks and curlews. In the late spring the field in front of the barn is dominated by bluebells.

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