I was lucky enough to be able to press the pause button on my busy work and life schedule with the help of my nearest and dearest and indulge my passion and ultimately switch off my brain from the everyday necessities of life.
My destination was becoming a regular draw each year for me around this time, and what a draw it is.
The River Teign plods it's course through the steep sided valley and has a plethora of delights as you follow it's deliberate meander.
For the last couple of years I have used this place as a stop over to my next destination staying with good friends near Okehampton. There is a car park at the head of the river which is perfect place to start the river walk. A pub in the nearby village gives refreshment and sustenance for the weary traveller too.
The walk itself provides a mixture not only of river delights but forest, glades and heathland also.
My first encounter was a Red Admiral who settled by my feet in the early morning light.
I know from my previous travels here there maybe a chance meeting of a favourite of mine, Beautiful Demoiselles...
The habitat here provides a real mixture of species I wouldn't normally find in my neck of the woods. This neck of the woods is awe inspiring at almost every turn. One such creature being the Pied Flycatcher. I took some time last year to find this beautiful woodland specialist. This year I had some knowledge of their call and of their haunts and found them much easier. Photographing them is a little trickier however. They inhabit the canopy of trees which has a mixture of light and dark, coupled with their plumage the perfect photo is hard to come by, especially for a novice such as myself but perseverance and practice is the key.
There are so many large wood ants here, as you try to find a seat it's almost impossible not to sit on one.
Then I heard the peeping call of another specialist here, the Dipper..
As you can see, the water was awash with thousands of emerging aquatic insects. Dippers concentrate on the subterranean insects while others such as the Grey Wagtail feed on the surface. The wagtails were proving a little harder to nail down for a picture however.
A very tatty Peacock butterfly fed on the remnants of the bluebells...
There are many mature Beech trees along the path. One of my favourite trees. The fresh pale green leaf growth in spring is something I appreciate more every year.
Ash trees have a strong foothold here too but for how long I wondered? Ash dieback has taken hold here it seems. These trees and many others didn't look healthy.
The meadow is awash with Daffodils in Spring but by now, Bluebells had taken their place and even these were beginning to fail now.
All around I could hear Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Willow Warbler calling and by my feet a Common Blue Butterfly fed on the flowers.
After refreshment and catching my breath, my quarry appeared before me... a Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (SPBF) feeding on the bluebells...
I know my friend Brian who I was visiting in Okehampton thinks it's impossible and they all look the same. When I first started observing them the finer details does become apparent but after the season ends I do have to refresh my brain on a couple. Some are obvious, others less so and it helps to have a book on the UK butterflies and not the European ones too. Then it can getting a little daunting as there are so many over the continent!
The Goosander had multiplied into two by this stage...
I followed this Small Copper for a while until it finally settled for some acceptable poses...
Along the way I spied an early purple orchid flowering on a devon bank...