Whatever time of year I visit Exmoor there is something to look out for and today it’s the stunning colours and population of pheasants and partridges along the roadside. Bred locally these birds are fairly tame, seemingly with no fear of traffic, sadly! On this visit I am hoping also to catch sight and sound of the rut.
After an early lunch at the hotel I headed out of Exford on the Porlock road then took a right at Hill Head Cross following signs to Stoke Pero and Cloutsham. The wide open views across the hill to the right and below Dunkery generally show deer. With several walkers out today there were none here so I drove on over the cattle grid at Cloutsham Gate to find a good number of deer in the pastures across to the right and above the nearby farm. Over forty hind with three young stags and one much older. He seemed at ease to graze around nipping the grass, his coat a vivid russet-red in the direct sunlight.
A Buzzard skirted the sky here, riding the thermals until he was gone. I watched him for some time then feeling cold from a sharpness in the air I drove back to Exford. A cream tea at the Exmoor White Horse Inn was a most welcome to warm up before heading over the Dunkery Road to Webbers Post. Looking across the open views here shows the differing shapes, sizes and colours of the trees which clothe the steep valley slopes especially now enriched with the fire colours of the changing leaves. The vast and glorious ancient oak Exmoor woodland here is an important sight for mosses ferns and litchen. Also home to Pied-flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Redstart, Dipper and many more plus several bat species.
Shrivelled fronds of bracken everywhere, a reminder of season’s change as is walking amongst dry crumpled leaves, reflecting on my day.
Sherryl Woods …………………………..3 November 2014