Look Wild: A year in Exmoor

Scroll down

Each passing year brings remarkable experiences across Exmoor and our UK National Parks. This year has been no exception. A succession of mini bio blitzes has successfully engaged families and adults in monitoring wildlife. Moreover, our All Parks Volunteer Day held in June this year has drawn in numerous newcomers, taking part in the LookWild initiatives and encouraging the use of iNaturalist to document the rich biodiversity thriving within our cherished National Parks.







Recent observations in Exmoor have included this Humming bird hawkmoth which migrates up from Southern Europe each spring.  They normally overwinter as adult moths but rarely in the UK. So If you find one hiding in an outbuilding or hole in a wall be sure to snap a picture and record it.







Observation by James Windle








We have also continued using iNaturalist to guide our volunteers to patches of Himalayan Balsam which need regularly pulling up to stop them setting seed and spreading down rivers and waterways.  The iNaturalist App has the ability to act as a GPS homing beacon to get us back to the right spots year after year.










Observation Patrick Watts-Mabbott



Late October, November and the first hard frosts- sometimes as late as January are the perfect time to be looking for waxcap fungi. Mostly small, brightly coloured fungi with thick, widely spaced, waxy gills on the underside. They are often easy to spot in short well grazed or mown grass lands or old lawns. They can take many decades to establish and if fertilisers are applied or the ground cultivated they disappear. So finding them is a sign of long established grasslands which are often important of other species as well.

If you do spot one of these waxcaps make sure you photograph how the gills attach to the stem and add in the notes if the stem and cap were sticky or dry, many gently use the back of their finger to identify and make sure it really is a waxcap. The critical thing for the wax caps is to avoid excessive nitrogen fertiliser being added to the grass and to prevent too much compaction and ground disturbance. Knowing where they are can help farmers and land managers to ensure their survival.




Observation by exmoorpeter

A massive thank you to the nearly 11,000 people who have helped log or identifying over 150,000 observations across all 15 UK National Parks in the last year.

If you’ve been inspired to get out into nature, you can share any photos or observations with us and get featured on our social or our newsletter! Send your observations to

Join iNaturalist and start identifying nature near you today! LookWild is a brilliant citizen science project that helps contribute to our data and knowledge of wildlife and habitat health across the UK.

This Blog was written by Patrick Watts-Mabbott, at Exmoor National Park.


National Parks are stunning. Instagram is a great way to follow us. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.