Welcome to the May/June issue of The Harrier

Posted June 16th at 11:45 pm in Welcome by Kevin Cox

Greg Bradbury captured this shot of a male Redstart against a backdrop of flowering hawthorn at Emsworthy Mire at the end of May.

The breeding season was rather delayed this year by a cold snap in May that held up a lot of our migrants. This issue of The Harrier is behind schedule as well but I can't use the excuse of the weather. Like many of you, I've been out and about a lot over the spring busy with nest boxes, surveys at Carswell Farm and Haldon Forest and just looking at birds.

The most important announcement in this issue is the launch of the Devon Birds Photography Competition 2017. But there are plenty of other stories too. Enjoy the early summer while there are still plenty of birds breeding and showing well.

Kevin Cox, Chairman

Calling all photographers

Posted June 11th at 12:14 am in Photo Competition by Kevin Cox


We are pleased to announce the first Devon Birds Photographer of the Year Competition. We are looking for the best photographs of birds taken anywhere in Devon. There are a number of different categories and the winners of each will go forward for the best to be chosen as the Devon Birds Photo of the Year 2017. All the winning entries will be included in an exhibition to be held at Torre Abbey in Torquay this coming October.

For more details of the competition and how to enter, visit the website: www.devonbirds.org/gallery/competition_2017_entry

More photos needed...

Posted June 11th at 12:13 am in Help wanted by Kevin Cox

Kate de la Haye has sent the following request:

I work for Natural England and we're trying to put together a poster and video to raise awareness about Plymouth's marine protected areas. The Special Protection Area that covers the Tamar features avocets and the little egret.

I'm trying to source site-specific photos or video of these birds. Would any of Devon Birds members be able to help?

We have a small budget to produce the video and poster, so could pay a small amount for any suitable images and include a credit, but it would be for educational purposes, so we're unable to pay commercial rates.

I have a bit of a tight deadline and would need to get any photos or footage by the end of June.

I'd be very grateful if you could help in any way. My email address is kate.delahaye@naturalengland.org.uk

Many thanks


Lead Adviser, Marine Visualisation Project, Natural England

Photo of the Month

Posted June 11th at 12:02 am in Photo of the Month by Kevin Cox

Steve Hopper's photo of two Red Kites shows just how good they are at aerial acrobatics. This was taken at South Brent on 25 May where they stayed around for most of the afternoon.


The breeding season so far

Posted June 10th at 3:15 pm in Conservation by Kevin Cox

Devon Birds has once again co-funded a number of important research projects in Devon for some of our most threatened species. Dr Malcolm Burgess, Senior Conservation Scientist at RSPB is heading up these projects. Here is his latest field update at the end of May:

"Spotted Flycatcher - A great week with several more loggered birds located. We are now up to 7 for definite and possibly 8 (need another look at the birds legs to confirm the colour). We haven't actually visited all the sites yet either! And the first of these located birds (a female) was captured and the tag retrieved fine. So that must be the first ever Spotted Flycatcher track anywhere as far as I know of! We have very high site fidelity as all have been found in exactly the same spots as where they were captured. We also have a similar number of control birds (the pair of the tagged pair member), and several sites have seen both the same male and female back. Irene, the field assistant, has been successfully finding the nests of these pairs and we have some on eggs now.

Wood Warbler - We have 16 nests found, mostly incubating eggs and just one with chicks. We are still finding males singing in new places for the season but they are nearly always unringed. To date we have only had 10 per cent of last year's males back (the project average is 17%), and 5% of last year's young (which is more in line with the average). We have captured 31 unringed males so far, and colour marked these. Over the next week we are putting extra effort into searching less visited or unvisited (by us) Dartmoor woodlands in the hope of finding some more.

Pied Flycatcher - Another quiet week but ringing and weighing nestlings has now started. We have also started catching all the males. Our 80 geolocators arrive tomorrow and we will be deploying them as fast as possible from Thursday. It will be all hands on deck to achieve this, and yesterday Sophie Fergusson joined the team for two weeks. Sophie is PiedFly.Net funded and has worked for several years on the project (and on Wood Warblers for RSPB in 2014) and is a licensed tagger. Most nests have hatched and the first fledge at the weekend."

Spotted Flycatchers in God's Acre

Posted June 10th at 3:00 pm in Conservation by Kevin Cox

Colin Randall writes: Devon Birds is working with churches across Devon to install nest boxes for Spotted Flycatchers. If managed well, with plenty of long grass, wildflowers, trees and insects, churchyards are perfect places for Spot Flys.

The Spotted Flycatcher nest-box scheme has been welcomed with a great deal of enthusiasm although the number of boxes issued totals only four this year.  By wonderful coincidence, it happened that the Anglican Diocese of Exeter was holding a conference on Living Churchyards, so as a Devon Birds Council Member, I was asked to speak at it. About a couple of dozen people, from churches with suitable churchyards from all over Devon, signed up asking for a box. Sadly, we only had four at that point, all of which are now up in various locations. That willingness to give it a try is very commendable, and bodes well for next year.

If you would like to donate a suitable nest box to the scheme for next year - or you have the time to make some, please get in touch with me: colin.randall@outlook.com

A Spot Fly box in a tree in St Budeaux Parish Church...

...and another in the churchyard in Okehampton

Exeter's famous Peregrines

Posted June 10th at 2:11 pm in Bird notes by Kevin Cox

The Peregrines nesting on St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham, Exeter are almost ready to fledge. Take a look at the webcam to see how well they are doing here: https://www.devonbirds.org/news/peregrine_falcons_webcam

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