BRANCHES - Plymouth

Plymouth

The Plymouth Branch was re-formed in 2013 after a period of inactivity. We now have an active programme of both field and indoor meetings. Field meetings are held most months and indoor meetings every couple of months at Mutley Baptist Church.

We always welcome new members, beginners and experienced birdwatchers alike. Members and non-members are free to attend any branch meeting.

The focus of our indoor meetings is birding of local interest, with occasional subjects from further afield. For further information contact the Chair.

Our field trips aim to introduce birdwatchers to the wide variety of habitats that Devon can offer in the search for its speciality and its more familiar species. Our experienced leaders will give help in bird recognition and their identification through songs and calls and share their knowledge of both sites and species. For further information contact the Field Meetings Coordinator.

Look here for details of areas to visit around Plymouth to watch birds.

In addition to the information on this website we send an annual Diarycard to all members and a monthly “what’s on” reminder.

Members and non-members are free to attend any branch meetings.

The branch is organised by a committee elected by the members at the AGM each November. This short AGM is followed by an illustrated talk.

Branch News

18 Mar

Devon Birds Indoor Meeting

Join fellow members for an inspirational evening's indoor speaker engagement on Saturday 13th April … Read More
16 Mar

REPORT ON BOWLING GREEN MARSH AND TOPSHAM VISIT ON FRIDAY 15 MARCH 2024

A warm welcome was provided to the RSPB Bowling Green Marsh hide from event leader John O’Connell-… Read More
17 Feb

REPORT ON WALMSLEY AND WADEBRIDGE VISIT FRIDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2024

A warm, sunny day, if you can remember such a thing, and 71 species, delighted the 21 birders who ca… Read More
All Plymouth News

Upcoming Branch Events

22 Apr
2024
19:30 to 21:30

The Birds of Challacombe Farm – A Nature Friendly Farm by Mark Owens

We will be welcoming Mark Owens who farms the land at Challacombe.  His presentation will provide an insight in to the way that the land is managed a…
More Below
24 Apr
2024
09:00 to 15:00

Yarner Wood and Trendlebere Down

We will explore some of the many paths that run through this part of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve.  The woodland valley, with its mix of…
More Below

Plymouth Branch Upcoming Events

22 Apr
2024

The Birds of Challacombe Farm – A Nature Friendly Farm by Mark Owens

We will be welcoming Mark Owens who farms the land at Challacombe.  His presentation will provide an insight in to the way that the land is managed and the benefits that this has for the amazing bird life of this Dartmoor gem.

We meet in the Spurgeon Hall of Mutley Baptist Church on Mutley Plain PL4 6LB 

Meetings start promptly at 7.30 pm.

Suggested donation £5.00 

Refreshments are available.

There is a public car park opposite the church hall entrance with free parking after 6.00pm.  You need to register your car for this using the ticket machine and display the printed ticket.

The hall is up a flight of stairs. Easier access via 6 stairs is available but please contact Liz Harris 01752 789594  elizmharris@yahoo.com in advance.

 

24 Apr
2024

Yarner Wood and Trendlebere Down

We will explore some of the many paths that run through this part of the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve.  The woodland valley, with its mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, including ancient oaks and an understorey of holly provide ideal habitats for many woodland species. We will search here for early arriving Pied and Spotted Flycatchers and Redstarts that take advantage of the many nestboxes. In addition, the surrounding moorland provides opportunities to see a variety of heathland birds.

We will meet at the Trendlebere ‘middle’ car park SX781792.  The walk will be approximately 4km with some steeper sections.

For further information please contact the event leaders Kev and Jacki Solman 07812 805668

Click here for Yarner Poster 2024

9 May
2024

Venford Reservoir

Meet at Venford Reservoir car park at SX685712.  The woodland paths we’ll follow, over some 7km, contain some steep sections that will involve some strenuous walking.  Our efforts should be rewarded in finding some of the many  resident Crossbills, Redpolls and Siskins along with migrants including several Warblers and both species of Flycatcher amongst others.  We’ll return along the moorland edge, where Cuckoos should be much in evidence, often being harassed by Tree Pipits, with other open country species like Yellowhammer and Linnet.  Around the dam area we hope to see Grebes, whilst Swifts, Swallows and Martins perform overhead.

For further information please contact the event leader Liz Harris 07812 135891

17 May
2024

Cann Woods – Nightjar Walk I

An evening walk through Cann Woods, Plympton, for an encounter with the mysterious Nightjars that spend only a short time with us during our summer. As darkness encroaches we’ll be alerted to their presence by their unearthly ‘churring’ song.  Wing-clapping tells us when they are on the wing, it will be then we’ll see their butterfly like flight as they pass overhead in their search for moths. Tawny Owls are present in good numbers too, but are more often heard than seen, and Pipistrelle bats patrol the woodland paths.  Bring a small torch and your bat detector, if you have one.

Meet in the Forestry England car park, opposite Woodside Animal Sanctuary (free) at SX547596 at 8:45pm.  Our walk will be approximately 5.5km

Please note this meeting is very weather dependent.  For up-to-date information please contact the event leader Chris Marcol 07976 359647

24 May
2024

Challacombe Farm, Dartmoor

Suggested parking is on the grass verge area at SX695 796 by the narrow road that leads across the bridge to Challacombe Farm.
Mark Owens, who farms the area, will give us a guided tour telling us about his plans to encourage wildlife.
He was the guest speaker at our Indoor Meeting in April.  We will be looking for Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Garden Warbler.
Afterwards we will venture to Golden Dagger Mine by Soussons Plantation for lunch and to search for Cuckoo and moorland species such as Whinchat, Reed Bunting and Tree Pipit.
On our return to the cars there will be an opportunity to drop in at Headland Warren Farm as we drive back to the B3212.
In total the walk will be approximately 5.5km.

For further information please contact the event leader Mary Johnson 07891844516

11 Jun
2024

Clearbrook, Yelverton

We will meet at the car park where the cycle track meets the dry leat and the road turns off down to the bridge at Goodameavy SX 518 651.  This is on the right hand side as you drive down the road from the A386 to Clearbrook.

From here we will take a walk around the heathland where we will hope to see Linnet, Stonechat, Yellowhammer and any other little gems that might pop up.

Returning to the cars we will move down to the car park at SX 522 656.  We will walk down to the River Meavy in search of riverside birds. The route takes us to some older woodland with the occasional glade which should prove good for butterflies. There are some stiles on this section.

This is an ideal opportunity to visit a local site which provides an opportunity to explore birds in a variety of habitats.  The walk is approximately 5km.

For further information please contact the event leader Mary Johnson 07891 844516

 

 

17 Jun
2024

Nightjar Walk II venue to be announced by mid-May

Our now regular ‘follow-up’ Nightjar event will be very much dependent upon the success of our first visit in May.  With the ever increasing height of the new growth at Cann Woods sightings of the birds are becoming more difficult.

In the interim we will explore locally for a possible alternative site to see Nightjars.  The venue therefore cannot be confirmed at this stage.  We will update this post and provide full details by mid May 2024.

Note this meeting is very weather dependant. For up-to-date information please contact the leader Chris Marcol 07976 359647

17 Aug
2024

Saltram Park and Blaxton Meadow, Plymouth

If you are a regular viewer of the Devon Birds recent sightings page you will never cease to be amazed at the range of species that are seen at this venue and the dedication of local birders to monitor the bird populations.  This event therefore provides an opportunity to visit what has been called Plymouth’s ‘birding gem’ – one not to be missed, especially if you have not been here before, as is so often the case with venues ‘on your door step’.  For those who regularly birdwatch this area it is an opportunity to meet up as a team and share your insights.  With high tide expected just just before 17:00, the birds will be pushed on to Blaxton Meadow by the rising tide, and so close views are assured of ducks and waders and hopefully there will be a star appearance of a Kingfisher or two!

Parking is available in the National Trust Saltram House car park for which there is a charge for non-members.

We will meet at the bird hide / viewing area overlooking Blaxton Meadow.  We will be based mainly in this area, however there are opportunities to explore the site more fully and you can expect a walking distance of approximately 4km.

For further information please contact the event leader John O’Connell-Davidson 07885 536218.

11 Sep
2024

Seaton Wetlands

A visit to the Axe estuary at this time of year will not only provide an opportunity to see many familiar species of wetland birds, but may offer a chance to see some rarer species of Sandpipers and other Waders or even an Osprey passing through on autumn migration.  There are excellent hides with views over the river, marshes and scrapes from elevated positions with a high tide due at 12:00. Meeting in the car park, accessed through Seaton Cemetery at SY 248 914, our walk will be approximately 6.5km.

For further information please contact the event leader John O’Connell-Davidson 07885 536218

 

20 Sep
2024

Soar and Starehole Valley

We will meet at the National Trust car park near the airfield at SX 713 375 (pay and display for non-NT members).  As we journey on our approximately 6km walk, we pass through farmland into a sheltered valley with dense scrub, small trees, ponds and a stream.  It is a question of expect the unexpected, not least because of the time of year and the weather conditions.  The fields typically attract large flocks of finches, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and we will search the hedgerows and margins for Yellowhammer and Cirl Bunting.  We hope to have a last encounter with summer migrants such as Wheatear and Willow Warbler before they leave our shores.

For further information please contact the event leaders Jacki and Kev Solman 07812 805668

 

30 Sep
2024

The Dartmoor Curlew Recovery Project by Jon Avon

Curlews are considered to be one of the most pressing bird conservation priorities in the country. The UK holds a quarter of the world’s population but in our changing landscapes they are increasingly unable to rear chicks so their population is rapidly declining.  Back in 2017 Jon Avon was reporting the alarming news that only 3 Curlew chicks had fledged on Dartmoor in the previous 15 years.

We will be welcoming Jon to our meeting to talk about the head-start programme, the careful monitoring and the progress that the project is making to try to reverse the decline.

We meet in the Spurgeon Hall of Mutley Baptist Church on Mutley Plain PL4 6LB 

Meetings start promptly at 7.30 pm.

Suggested donation £5.00 

Refreshments are available.

There is a public car park opposite the church hall entrance with free parking after 6.00pm.  You need to register your car for this using the ticket machine and display the printed ticket.

The hall is up a flight of stairs. Easier access via 6 stairs is available but please contact Liz Harris 01752 789594  elizmharris@yahoo.com in advance.

21 Oct
2024

Emsworthy Mire

We will meet at the car park at SX 748 761 before embarking on our approximately 3km walk around the Devon Wildlife Trust Reserve.  Renowned for swathes of bluebells in May / June it is the colour red that we will be keeping an eye out for, and not just that of the iconic red roofed barn.  Instead it will be the red of Hawthorn and Holly berries and maybe the red flashes on the flanks of Redwing.

The hope is that our visit will be timed for the arrival of thrushes, winter visitors such as Fieldfare, Redwing and flocks of Mistle Thrush and Ring Ouzel, our only summer visiting thrush, which is a regular autumn passage migrant.  The latter use this site as a feeding stop off as they move down from upland areas in the north, before heading to the Atlas Mountains in north west Africa for the winter.

With the effects of climate change becoming more noticeable the timing of visits to see these birds is becoming more problematic.  In 2023 Ring Ouzel seemed to arrive early and stay later at a number of Dartmoor sites.  We will be on the look out for many other species including Raptors, Golden Plover, Meadow Pipit and Green Woodpecker.

For further information please contact the event leader Chris Marcol 07976 359647

11 Nov
2024

AGM

We will hold a short AGM at the start of the evening before welcoming our guest speaker for this event.   Please check the website at a later date as we will post further information once we have confirmed the details of the presentation.

We meet in the Spurgeon Hall of Mutley Baptist Church on Mutley Plain PL4 6LB 

Meetings start promptly at 7.30 pm.

Suggested donation £5.00 

Refreshments are available.

There is a public car park opposite the church hall entrance with free parking after 6.00pm.  You need to register your car for this using the ticket machine and display the printed ticket.

The hall is up a flight of stairs. Easier access via 6 stairs is available but please contact Liz Harris 01752 789594  elizmharris@yahoo.com in advance.

23 Nov
2024

Slapton Ley

We will meet on Slapton Ley Bridge on Sands Road at SX 828 443.  There is limited parking by the bridge but there are more spaces further along Sands Road as well as at the Slapton Sands Memorial pay and display car park.  With the high tide expected at 11:00 we will spend some time sea watching for bird and mammal species in the hope of catching a glimpse of dolphins, seals or even breaching whales.  The beach has in the past afforded stunning views of Snow Bunting.

We will walk round part of the Ley to view what is always an interesting mix of wetland species, ducks, divers and gulls as well as woodland birds.  This SSSI and National Nature Reserve is often used as a stop off point for unusual species, it being the largest fresh water lake in the South West and separated only by a narrow shingle bar from the sea. The marshes and reedbeds provide useful cover and shelter from the extremes of the weather.  Footpaths can be very muddy if the weather has been wet so it may be advisable to bring wellies for our 5km walk.

For further information please contact the event leader John Lloyd 07811 232206

12 Dec
2024

St John’s Lake and River Lynher

We will meet on Marine Drive, Torpoint SX438547.  Walking from here along Chapeldown Road, we will scan the shoreline and St John’s Lake for waders, gulls, ducks, grebes and divers.  There will be the opportunity to return to this location at the end of the trip to see which birds have arrived on the incoming tide (high tide approx. 14:55).

We will drive 4 miles along the A374 to Wacker Quay to walk along the River Lynher (approximately a 4km walk).  The car park and path can be very muddy so it is advisable to bring wellies.  This second site will provide opportunities to observe further species of waders such as Avocet, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit.  We may be fortunate enough to see Spoonbill which are occasional visitors.

For further information please contact the event leader Doug Herdson 07910 078599

Plymouth Branch Committee

Plymouth Branch Committee

Chair and Council Member
Liz Harris
01752 789594 / 07812135891
Secretary
Treasurer
John Lloyd
Field Meeting Coordinator
John O’Connell-Davidson
01752 668448
Publicity
Doug Herdson
Social Coordinator
Kay Rouse
Other members
Roy Harris
Chris Marcol
07976 359647
Jacki and Kev Solman
Mary Johnson
07891 844516
Rob Massey