Devon Birds News
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’.
Report on Broadsands and Brixham Breakwater Field Trip on 16 January 2023
For the first 2023 field trip, 24 people from the Plymouth Branch met at Broadsands. In the hedgerows around the car parks a number of birds were enjoying the winter sun, notably a very mobile Chiffchaff, a Goldcrest and several Cirl Bunting which were regularly flitting down to the seed at their feeding site. Looking out to sea, from the area above the beach, there were good views of a range of species all actively fishing: 6+ Great Northern Divers, Razorbill and very distant Gannets. A strong, cold wind made the water very choppy, however a raft of about 25 Common Scoter were unperturbed. Excellent views of a Black-necked Grebe were to be had from the footpath round to Elberry Cove.
At Brixham Harbour the Grey Seals were loafing on the pontoons and swimming in the bay. From the breakwater the group enjoyed watching 5 Purple Sandpiper and Rock Pipit. The species list for the visit was as follows:
Great Northern Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Common Scoter, Buzzard, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Kittiwake, Razorbill, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock,
Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting
Total 40 species
Visit Leader Doug Herdson
Devon Birds Journal – Guidelines for Contributors
Devon Birds aims to publish material on all aspects of ornithology and birdwatching in Devon, and especially encourages contributions that include an element of research or original observation. Short notes, reports of field meetings or notable birdwatching experiences are welcome, as well as longer research papers. The Editor(s) will try to help with, and advise on, potential contributions. Authors of longer articles are strongly encouraged to provide a brief synopsis and some sample text before submitting complete texts. The following notes offer guidance on the main points to consider.
This is the preferred means of preparing and submitting texts. Contributions should be sent by email as an attached Word file (.doc or .docx). Please do not format your text as it is much easier for the Editor(s) to deal with unformatted text.
Typed or hand-written manuscripts
These are very time-consuming for the Editor(s) to work with and are only acceptable as a last resort. They must be typed or neatly handwritten. Pages should be numbered and typed/written on one side only, double spaced and with wide margins (at least 25 mm) all round.
Species names should be capitalised: e.g. Reed Bunting, but with generic names in lower case, e.g. buntings. Latin names of birds, other animals and plants should be given, in italics, the first time the species is mentioned.
If your contribution includes any references, please provide these in accordance with the following examples:
Sitters, H.P. 1988. Tetrad Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Devon. DBWPS, Yelverton.
Waldon, J. 2006. How will climate change impact on the birds of Devon? Devon Birds 59(2): 7–12.
Supporting tables, graphs, diagrams, maps and other artwork should be sent as separate files or on separate pages and clearly numbered. The printed area of Devon Birds is 215 x 144 mm (8 1/2 × 5 5/8 inches). Please bear this in mind when preparing tables, diagrams, drawings, and photographs; a graphic which contains a lot of detail may appear cluttered or be impossible to read when reduced to fit the page (over two columns) or a single column. Photographs should ideally be submitted as high-resolution JPG, TIF or, preferably, RAW files. Colour photographs or 35mm transparencies may be submitted for scanning and will be returned. Captions should include species, age and sex (if applicable), date and place. Digital images over 5MB should be submitted on CD or DVD, with captions. Otherwise, please suggest any photos that you would like to accompany your article and we will do our best to find something from the archive.
Please include your name as you would like it to appear in Devon Birds, and postal and/or email addresses that you are willing to have published at the end of your article (to assist any readers who may like to contact you). A phone number will be of great help to the Editor(s), especially if you are not on email, but this will not be published. We now like to include a short biography of each author (see examples in recent issues), so please also add some relevant details of your involvement with the subject of your article, membership of Devon Birds, etc.
Submission and acceptance
Submit one copy of your paper to the Editor(s) and retain a copy for yourself. Receipt of your paper will be acknowledged as soon as possible. Your paper will be read by the Editor(s) and also sometimes by an independent referee. The Editor’s decision on accepting papers for publication is final, but recommendations will always be made in the case of any item considered unsuitable. If a paper needs revision, a marked-up copy will be returned to you for the necessary changes. Electronic submissions will be returned by email, with comments using the ‘Track Changes’ function of Microsoft Word.
Once an article has been accepted for publication, the Editor(s) will schedule it for inclusion in a future issue, which may not necessarily be the next one to appear. A PDF proof of the article in its final edited form will be emailed to you for approval. This should be checked and any corrections notified to the Editor(s) as soon as possible within the stated deadline. Please do NOT take this opportunity to rewrite your paper!
Current submission addresses
Articles and supporting imagery should be sent to:
Mike Lock, Editor, Devon Birds, Glen Fern, Whitford Road, Musbury, Axminster EX13 7AP
Good-quality digital photographs of birds in Devon (up to 5MB) for use in Devon Birds can be sent to Mike Langman, Art Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the guidelines above, although single pictures up to 5MB in size can be emailed. Please ensure every photo submitted is file-named to identify species, age (if applicable), location, date and photographers initials. File names can be abbreviated as per the following example: a Mediterranean Gull 2nd summer photo taken at Instow on 20 July 2012 by Joe Bloggs could be: MedGull2sInstw200712JBs. Images in excess of 5MB should be sent on a CD or DVD to Mike at 38 Brantwood Drive, Paignton TQ4 5HZ.
Submission of any photo assumes that Devon Birds may use the image free of charge in any of its own publications or for Devon Birds publicity purposes. Copyright remains with the photographer.
Devon Birds Record Committee Vacancy
After serving as a member of the Committee for six years, Pete Aley will be standing down at the end of 2022. Pete has been an active member of the Committee, and his consistent approach to assessing records has proved invaluable. The Society would like to thank him for his contribution over the past six years and wish him well in the future.
This means that there is a vacancy on Committee, no formal applications to fill these vacancies have been received. If any members wish to nominate themselves or other Devon Birds members please get in touch with the County Recorder. The Committee would particularly like to hear from female and younger members.
In addition, the role of associate member of the Committee, giving less experienced Devon Birds members an opportunity to get involved in, and learn about, the work of DBRC, hopefully encouraging wider participation and leading to a more diverse team.
For more information and/or an application form please contact: Kevin Rylands, County Recorder, email: email@example.com.
Devon Birds Wetland Birds Conference
The link below will take you to the summary of the recent Wetland Bird Conference, hosted by Devon Birds at the Exeter Court Hotel
Plymouth Branch visit to St John’s Lake and the River Lynher, Torpoint
Please follow the link below to find a report of the recent Plymouth branch visit to St John’s Lake and River Lynher
Saturday 3 December Field Trip Report for St John’s Lake and River Lynher, Torpoint
For the final field trip of the 2022 season 25 people from the Plymouth Branch made a foray across the water, assembling on Marine Drive and moving on to Chapeldown Road. Four hours before high tide large numbers of duck and geese were visible on the far side of the water. Much closer views of a party of 5 Little Grebe were enjoyed together with a variety of waders, which included Turnstone, several small flocks of Dunlin together with at least 12 Ringed Plover. There were distant views of a Great Northern Diver which was actively fishing.
The group moved on to Wacker Quay as the tide came in and pushed waders on to the salt marsh. Good numbers of Teal and Wigeon were seeking shelter from a bitterly cold wind together with a lone Gadwall. Waders were hunkered down in the marsh vegetation but the predominantly white plumage of a group of approximately 50 Avocets were showing clearly on the distant shore.
Upon returning to Chapeldown Road for the high tide, the group were rewarded with excellent views of 24 dark-bellied and 4 pale-bellied Brent Geese and up to 3 Great Northern Divers. Local residents were keen to share their recent sightings too, with a Black Redstart seen daily on roof tops in the area, although none of the group were lucky on this occasion.
|Great Northern Diver||Dunlin|
|Great Crested Grebe||Avocet|
|Little Grebe||Great Black-backed Gull|
|Grey Heron||Common Gull|
|Little Egret||Black-headed Gull|
|Gadwall||Great Spotted Woodpecker|
|Brent Goose (dark-bellied)||Magpie|
|Brent Goose (pale-bellied)||Great Tit|
|Canada Goose||Blue Tit|
|Mute Swan||Long-tailed Tit|
Total 53 species
Plymouth Branch – Indoor Meeting Review
On Monday, 14th.November 2022 Plymouth Branch held their first Indoor meeting in nearly three years following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Seasonality – A personal account of nature through the seasons.
Author, naturalist and tour guide.
The weather and the Seasons are favourite topics of conversation in Britain, but do we really look carefully and study the changes brought about as the clock ticks and the Seasons progress? What effects are there on our wildlife and how might it affect our senses and experience of our environment?
Ian has a great understanding of these questions and in his presentation, he revealed some answers to them. Drawing on his experiences as a Forestry Commission warden, bird watcher, author and bird tour guide Ian presented a highly personal and enlightening account of nature with which he shares his life. He says in the introduction to his book, namely, “Seasonality – A personal account of nature through the seasons”, “Wildlife makes me tick. Quite simply it makes me happy”.
His passion, underpinned with deep knowledge and understanding, was clearly communicated to us with great photographs, readings from his book, personal anecdotes and fascinating nuggets of information. I am sure that we will remember the story of the Devon endemic “No parking Whitebeam” tree species and the way in which the winter thrushes can discern which berries to eat for breakfast and which ones to eat for supper!
Ian is a great advocate for trees and ably shows how much of wildlife is dependent on trees and pointing out how we often take trees for granted, he phrases this as being, “tree blind”. How many of us know the Spindle Tree or that it was once subject to laws condemning it as a threat to national security in World War 2. This common component to our native hedgerows puts on a spectacular Autumn display with exotic pink fruits that when ripe open to reveal orange seeds but it is also a food plant to Blackfly which can decimate food crops. Hence it became a target for persecution during the testing times of World war when the focus on farming efficiency became paramount.
Ian concludes in this presentation and in his book, “The seasons of the year roll on regardless: an endless cycle that dictates the rhythm of life”
John Lloyd Committee member Devon Birds Plymouth Branch.
A personal account of nature through the seasons.
Whittles Publishing ISBN 978-1-84995-505-8
Devon Birds have been advised about a petition to ‘Limit the shooting season of Woodcock’. If you would like more information please read the Blog at www.wildjustice.org.uk. If you wish to sign the petition please go to https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/619615