19 May
2013
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A trail of ants


Izzy has had chicken pox, so this week we have mainly stayed indoors. Cabin fever had definitely set in and it feels good to be outside now.

We follow a grassy path lined by Common Dog-violets and Bluebells. When Izzy stops to smell the flowers, I notice some Broom hiding amongst the golden Gorse. Izzy wants to touch a Black Slug and there are a few of those around at the moment, sliming over the damp turf. A handful of Dartmoor ponies graze amongst the Bracken and beyond them is a field filled with lambs.

We descend some steep steps and hug the edge of the gorge, from the bottom of which rises the roar of the River Teign. On the far side of the valley, each budding tree in the woodland can be differntiated from its neighbours. A Red-tailed Bumblebee buzzes past and Izzy sings out ‘Bumble – Bee,” which is one of her favourite new words. Then, a Small Heath flits by, skimming the vegetation.

A little further on, just as we stop to admire the view, I notice that the object of my search is literally under my feet. A column of Southern Wood-ants crosses the path. We lean closer and whilst some rear up defensively, others continue carrying prey items back to the nest, which is not as impressive as some I have seen here before. Izzy is fascinated, but after watching for a little while, paranoia sets in and I start wondering whether ants are crawling up my trouser legs. It is time to move on.

Next, we lift up a stone and find some metallic blue ground beetles. Under another we find a centipede, curled up. Izzy soon catches the stone turning bug. She is after one of her favourite creatures – a worm – and soon enough, she finds one.

Then, it starts to hail and returning the worm to its home, we make a quick dash back to the car park and ours’.

 


Checklist

Practicalities

We parked in the National Trust car park at Castle Drogo, near Drewsteignton, where there is a cafe, toilets and a little play area. We followed the footpath signs towards Teign Gorge/Fingle Bridge along the top of Piddledown Common, down the steps, along the edge of the gorge, then back up another set of steps towards the castle. It is not suitable for buggies.

Other places to see Wood-ants

 

 

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