Bampton: Natural History
The area around and within Bampton is rich in wildlife - this is encouraged by a conservation policy in the town. Three areas are specifically designated as wildlife habitats: the area around the motte, Millennium Green, and a part of the churchyard. Two areas in Bampton are official 'Sites of Special Scientific Interest', and these include Five Oaks and Kersdown Quarries.
Springtime is a particularly prolific time of year for wild flowers. Some examples include primroses, wild violets, the rare white scented violet and early purple orchids. The ' Old Packhorse Way' which winds up the hillside out of Ashleigh Park, is a rich natural habitat and the woods were mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
In summer, on the approaches to Bampton, just before the Exeter Inn, the steep rocky banks of the road are covered with ox-eye daisies, foxgloves and the yellow spires of the silky-leaved Mulleins. Knapweed, Travellers' Joy, and the Wild Clematis also grow in the hedgerows, indicating a lime soil. At the sides of wooded lanes you can smell Wild Garlic, and the scented carpets of Bluebells in the woods. Another useful habitat for flowers is the steep rocky shale slope at the base of the castle motte. In Summer Red Valerian grow here with Pink Mallow and Yellow Perforated St Johns Wort. Old stone walls have an interesting flora, due to the lime in the old mortar. For example, the little Ivy-Leaved Toadflax, Yellow and White Stonecrop and Mouse-Eared Hawkweed all grow here.
Many butterflies emerge from hibernation to feed off the flowers in early Spring. These include the Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, Peacock and the Comma, Speckled Wood, Wall, Holly Blue, Orange Tip, and Common Blue butterflies. In more open spaces in early spring, the Small Copper, emerges. Later in spring and summer the 'one brood' butterflies emerge. The Green Hairstreak and Small Heath, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Ringlet, Silver Washed Fritillary, Purple Hairstreak, and Small and Large Skippers. Red Admirals, Painted Lady and Clouded Yellows visit Bampton as migrants from the Continent. Cinnabar and Humming Bird Hawk moths are active by day and Elephant Hawk Moths can sometimes be seen.
Many interesting birds are present because of the diversity of habitats in the area. Examples include Buzzards (on right), Kestrels, Long Tailed Tits, Gold Finch, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Spotted Fly-Catchers, Siskin, Lesser Red Polls, Tree Creepers and Nuthatches. Green and Pied Woodpeckers visit gardens from the woodland areas. The River Batherm is the habitat for many birds but ducks and the Kingfisher are particularly noticeable here. In Winter, Fieldfare and Redwings may be seen in the area and a little higher up the river, on the adjacent fields, Canada Geese occasionally feed.
The largest mammals in the area are the red deer which, together with the Roe Deer, are most easily identified in the Winter; over 200 live in the forests around Bampton. Other examples of mammals in the area include Foxes, the Badger, Dormice and Bats. Cold blooded creatures such as frogs, toads and slow worms can be found in damp habitats and under rocks.
The above text is reproduced from 'Bampton - Conservation Handbook' published by Mid Devon District Council. We intend to add some pictures here at a later date. We are working on some wild-flower information and images.