Tuesday and Steve and I went west to the heathlands built on the pebble-beds. In the main quick-draining sandy heath, some gullies from heavy rains eroding through the pebble-beds. One mini-canyon 30 feet deep, and dry at the moment. In some places thin clay layers have allowed marshy plants to dominate, encouraged by a build-up of peaty black stuff. Here were marsh orchids and cotton grass.
Also a pond being guarded by several dragonflies. One short bodied darter – Lingulella quadrimaculata I think – seemed keen to chase away all comers, especially if they seemed intent on laying eggs into the water. A little later we saw the same fly hovering close by a female as she laid her eggs into the pond. I guess he was defending the pond for his own offspring.
Steve found an empty nymph case from a dragonfly – ugly beasts, not elegant like the flying phase.
Beside the pond we found small sundews. Tiny reddish plants whose sticky leaves are adapted to catch insects and absorb the nutrients as their prey decays.
We spent nearly an hour at the pond before heading north to a road, and east back towards our cottage. The western slopes of the Otter valley are covered with apple orchards, and some single rows of a poplar acting as windbreaks.
Just before a steep descent to the wide flat valley floor we got this view of Harpford village across the valley.