Devon Birds News
Newsletter March 2023
The latest edition of the newsletter can be found by following the link below
In this issue there is a reminder about the AGM, the booking details for the trip to Lundy and another reminder about visiting the new website. We also have an interesting article for the new “Devon Culm” charity and another from Peter Reay about Stonechats on farmland.
And hot off the press, some exciting news about a species not often associated with the British Isles
As always we are continually looking for interesting material for the newsletter, so if you have been anywhere, or seen anything worth telling people about, please let us know at Communications@devonbirds.org
REPORT ON BOWLING GREEN MARSH AND TOPSHAM FIELD TRIP ON 16 MARCH 2023
Nineteen members of Devon Birds enjoyed a good day out organised by the Plymouth Branch. The weather was a bit chilly at times and quite windy in places, but it never downed the spirits of the group. Most of the day was dry with light rain coming in as we approached the Bowling Green Marsh bird hide.
We started with a walk through Topsham from the car park to the main quayside, where we had excellent views of Red-breasted Mergansers and Teal. We were able to compare Redshank and Spotted Redshank which were wading through the mud together on the opposite river/estuary bank.
Then we walked down to the ‘Goat Walk’ where we had good views of Turnstones feeding amongst the seaweeds just below the Walk. On the mudbanks opposite we had clear views of Avocet, Dunlin and Curlew. A large flock of Brent Geese flew overhead to say hello.
Next, we walked round the corner to the viewing platform by the edge of the estuary. On the way we saw Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Goldfinch. From the platform, we saw Grey Plover and Black-tailed Godwits.
Then it was on to the main hide and an opportunity to escape the wind just as light rain began to fall. Sustenance in the form of food and drink was consumed as we watched Snipe, Greylag Geese, Pintail, Wigeon, Reed Bunting together with large numbers of Black-tailed Godwit and four Bar-tailed Godwit, allowing comparisons to be made.
Finally, we visited the viewing area across Goosemoor. Here we saw Goldcrest, Stonechat and Greenshank.
A total of 58 species of bird were seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker , Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Redwing, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting, Goldcrest, Stonechat.
Report from event leaders Kev and Jacki Solman
Obituary – Bob Burridge
Bob Burridge died suddenly on 24th January. Bob was instrumental in establishing the South Milton and South Huish Reserves. He was involved from the outset, recognizing their importance, establishing relationships with landowners, and pressing Devon Birds to acquire or lease land when the opportunity arose. He also ringed in South Milton from the 60’s until less than 10 years ago. He was quite a character and well known in the birding community.
The funeral service will take place at Efford Crematorium on Monday 13th March at 12.15pm. Family flowers only. Donations if so desired for Devon Birds by retiring collection or c/o Kingsbridge Funeral Directors, Devon Square View, Lower Union Road, Kingsbridge. Tel: 0154885634_
Section Writers required to help with the Devon Bird Report
The production of the Devon Bird Report is one of the primary Objects of the Society and takes a lot of work to get it completed to the required standard and in good time.
We are starting work on the Devon Birds Report for 2022, the various sections and species accounts for which are written by volunteers from the membership of the society.
Quite a number of our current contributors have indicated that they are not going to be able to help with the next report; mostly because they have been writing sections for a considerable number of years! As editor, I would like to express, on behalf of the society, my thanks to them all for their dedication, professionalism and hard work.
We are therefore in need of new section writers! The usual process is to assign a group of species to each writer; the format is basically the same every year, working with records submitted and stored on the society database – the normal timescale is that this data is available from late April, with draft reports completed and returned to myself by the end of July, or thereabouts. If you would like more details about what is involved, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
If you think that you can help please let Martin Overy, the Editor know as soon as possible – email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bird Books looking for interested readers
We have been approached by someone who has a sister who recently died. This person was a member of the RSPB and a very keen traveller to see and photograph wildlife, particularly birds. She had an extensive collection of bird books relating to those from many countries, from Antarctica, Falklands and Australia, to specific regions of Africa and India, as well as books on particular species and bird behaviour and migration.
The idea is that a local keen birder or society might have a similarly interested person who would like the collection or at least some of it as a gift.
The books have been collected and I will and have them for the March indoor meeting. If anyone would like to see them please attend on 14th March. If not able to do so and would be interested in what might be there please let us know. I will catalogue them and let you have the list. There must be over £2000.00 worth here so some bargain’s to be had. Donations to Devon Birds or RSPB as you choose.
Karen Sims Treasurer Taw & Torridge Branch
Report on Walmsley Reserve and Wadebridge Field Trip on 14 February 2023
With the first hint of the approach of Spring, on a day of wall to wall sunshine, 19 birdwatchers from the Plymouth branch visited one of the jewels in the Cornwall Birds’ crown, Walmsley Reserve. We are grateful to the warden Adrian Langdon for facilitating our trip, which was such an enjoyable experience.
With the approaching high tide, Curlew, Mute Swan and Lapwing took to the fields around the Burniere hide from which we first viewed birds at the upper end of the estuary. From the two reserve hides we had excellent views of a wide variety of duck species, from elegant Pintail to whistling Wigeon. Other highlights included a Spoonbill, Green Sandpiper and Marsh Harrier.
Moving on to Chapel Amble we watched numerous Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits actively foraging in the shallow water on the scrape. The group were entertained by an array of frogs poking their heads above water and the brief appearance of a fox.
The day will be remembered not just for the wide variety of species seen, but also for the number of some individual species, notably over 2000 Golden Plover. Catching the light they appeared like glitter in a snow globe and close up views of birds on the mud banks created another spectacle, as the beautiful detail in their plumage could be appreciated.
Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbill, Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Goosander, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch
Total 63 species
Mid Devon Field Meet, Slapton Ley and Beesands, 9th Feb.
A group of nine members from the Mid Devon, Plymouth and Taw & Torridge groups enjoyed a full day of birding on 9th Feb at Slapton Ley and Beesands Ley. Under the direction of Mid Devon’s guest leader Doug Herdson, we ended the day with a total count of 50 species. Two Pochards and a N. American Ring-necked duck were seen associating with Tufted Ducks at Beesands, while a Marsh Harrier flew back and forth along the Ley before choosing to land awkwardly in the reeds, offering memorable views from the hide. A large number of duck were drawn to the spectacle, congregating in the water directly in front of the Harrier before it sprang up to disappear from view. Highlights at Slapton included one Common Goldeneye, numerous Gadwall, a disgruntled Water Rail and a single Great Northern Diver. The association of Gadwall and Coot was interesting to observe; pointed out by Doug, it appears that it is common practice for Gadwall to steal aquatic weed from Coots – a behaviour known as kleptoparasitism.
Talk by John Walters on House Martins – Lynton
Talk by the renowned Naturalist John Walter on House Martins.
Friday March 24th at 19:30
The Valley of Rocks Hotel – Lynton
Plymouth Indoor Meeting Report 23 January 2023
Birdlife of the Plym Estuary and Saltram Park; Threats and Opportunities, a talk by Pete Aley
Plym Estuary regular patch birder, volunteer and Devon Birds website editor.
Pete is often found watching ‘his patch’ along the Plym estuary and at Saltram Park where he has closely monitored the development of Blaxton Meadow since its inception. He has long championed the needs of wildlife and has brought his knowledge to bear on ecological issues such as the creation of a solar power plant at the adjacent Chelson Meadow. He galvanized a group of local birders into action to come up with alternative proposals that would mitigate the damage to wildlife, by the plant’s construction, in the most sensitive areas. He has also advised the National Trust on wildlife habitat around Saltram in planning the future of the park.
The presentation outlined the threats posed to wildlife, particularly birds, that rely on specific areas of the estuary and Saltram Park. He illustrated the way in which Chelson Meadow acts as a bolt-hole for disturbed species from Saltram Park and its importance as a migratory stop off for other species, including several red and amber listed birds. Pete noted an increasing leisure usage in the area and emphasized the need to connect with all parties concerned to reduce disturbance to wildlife caused by groups such as paddle-boarders and canoeists and the growing numbers of dog walkers.
Many of the key species of the area, and where and when to find them, were highlighted. The area is of growing importance and is actively monitored by Pete, and a number of local birders, who’s data forms a useful part of Devon county and National (BTO) databases. Over the years his records show both positive and negative trends in population and breeding and even help to define migratory patterns of some species.
Looking to the future what can we expect? The success of the “marmite bird” love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Ring-necked Parakeet, for example, shows how ‘new’ species can, given favourable habitat, establish populations.
He suggests too, that we might realistically look forward to a range of visiting species such as Caspian Gull, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Great White Egret, Glossy ibis, Woodchat Shrike, Little Bunting and, top of his wish list, Red-flanked Bluetail. Much to look forward to!
This presentation was well received, some of the audience already frequented this area, others knew it less well and some had not visited, but all were inspired to visit this Plymouth birding gem following this informative and thought-provoking talk.
Devon Birds Plymouth Branch Committee Member
Notice of Annual General Meeting 2023
Notice is hereby given that the 2023 Devon Birds Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 18th April 2023 at the Exeter Court Hotel, Kennford, Exeter EX6 7UX.
An Agenda for the meeting will be published nearer the time.
There are currently vacancies on Devon Birds Council for 2 Ordinary Members, also the following positions will retire by rotation as required by the Constitution. Chairman (1 nomination received), Vice Chairman, Treasurer (available for re-election), Recorder (available for re-election), Communications Officer (available for re-election), Publications Officer (available for re-election). Nominations for any of these positions, Trustee Members or Branch Representatives of the Council may be made by the Council or by any three members by notice in writing to the Secretary at least 6 weeks before the Annual General Meeting in order that members can be advised within the required timescales.
Volunteers to assist the Society at the Reserves, at the Branches or in other areas are also very welcome. A volunteer to assist with administration of the new Website would also be welcome.
A vacancy also currently exists on the Devon Birds Records Committee.
More information is available by contacting the Secretary, Mike Daniels (email@example.com) and by referring to the Devon Birds CIO Constitution, Sections 12 (Charity Trustees) and 13 (Appointment of Charity Trustees) on the Website (www.devonbirds.org).
The meeting will be followed by a talk by John Walters, wildlife artist and author, ecologist and speaker, titled ’30 years Wildlife Watching in Devon’.