Stoke Gabriel teems with wildlife, both common and rare. Day and night, dawn and dusk, in every season, there is always wonderful wildlife to be seen, both flora and fauna. There are egrets and herons on the Mill Pool, seals and salmon in the river, huge oyster shells on the mud banks that emerge at low tide, bats flitting in the twilight, slow worms basking on stone walls in the hot sun, the stunning sight and sound of bees buzzing in the scented spring apple blossom in the parish orchard, the pink and purple orchids scattered over the limestone quarry floor, the tapping of woodpeckers in the dappled light and shade of the oak and beech woods, foliage, flowers and fruit in the Devon hedgebanks and violets in the verges, and green farmland fields.
Wildlife around Stoke Gabriel
We are fortunate in having a range of wildlife habitats which include gardens, farm land, woods, streams and, of course, the tidal River Dart. These varied habitats support a great diversity of plants, birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates such as insects and spiders, and reptiles and amphibians.
Some animal species are resident throughout the year such as owls, ravens, some bat species, fresh water and sea fish, amphibians, seals, badgers, otters and other members of the mustelid family. We also have the rare wasp spider and the now uncommon hornet and glow worm. Sometimes we get rare migrants such as ospreys and cuckoos in spring and autumn as they commute to and from Africa.
If you know where to look you can find several orchid species, and a range of poisonous and edible fungi. You may even spot the extremely rare latticed or basket stinkhorn (Clathrus rubber). It looks like a red tennis ball with dozens of holes drilled in it. It can be distinguished from a tennis ball by its revolting smell.
Our rural situation means many in our parish have a great interest in wildlife. New residents and visitors may be interested in some of the local nature here. We also have a number of experts who can tell you much more about village life-in all forms! There are a number of national and local organisations which provide information and advice. Some national organisations have local offices, which can be contacted.
Many organisations rely on members of the public to provide information for their records. This enable them to monitor particular species. Some of you will, no doubt, have taken part in the RSPB's annual garden bird watch.
Devon Bat Group: Sylvia Bevis, bat warden, can be contacted on 782218. Remember, it is an offence for anyone without a licence to handle bats.
Devon Wildlife Trust - tel. 01392 279244
Devon Biodiversity Records Centre - tel. 01392 274128
RSPB Local office in Exeter - tel. 01392 432691
Devon County Wildlife Sites - see the interactive map on DCC's website. Mill Pool is a Devon County Wildlife Site, with Hoyle Copse, and some of the surrounding land, a unconfirmed Devon County Wildlife Site.