Plymouth Branch Indoor Meeting

Woodpeckers, Warblers and other Wildlife Highlights

Posted November 20th at 6:17 pm in Plymouth Branch Indoor Meeting by Inga Page

Any talk by John Walters is eagerly anticipated by many who are interested in wildlife. This presentation took us on a whistle-stop tour of our region with aerial shots of some of our key wildlife locations. We learnt how our geography and weather systems governed our wildlife and how events presented opportunities for wildlife but also challenges like ‘The Beast from the East’.

The short and eventful lives of bees, wasps and hornets as well as butterflies, moths and other insects  were covered and their importance emphasised in the ecology of our region.  John supported his presentation with some great photographs and evocative illustrations.

Many of us were familiar with John’s work with BBC wildlife programmes and we were treated to the film of ‘his’ family of Long Tailed Tits that he had recorded roosting in a Holly bush in a wood near to his Devonshire home. This footage was the result of many hours of patient and painstaking work and had captured the imagination of a nationwide audience, when it featured on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s  ‘Wild West’ series.

John is a busy ecologist and has carried out many scientific studies and projects. One example is the re-wilding of Devon roadside verges. These have been stripped back to soil so that they can be seeded with naturally occurring herbaceous plants that will benefit insect life and ultimately support the wider foodchain.

John’s interest goes back to his very early life in Hampshire, where his exposure to the natural world led him toward a career in nature conservation with great passion, energy and enthusiasm.

He communicates this in a relaxed but well informed style that captivates his audiences. For more in depth information about John Walter’s work visit:

John Lloyd Devon Birds Plymouth Branch

The Dartmoor Moorland Birds Project

Posted September 20th at 11:48 am in Plymouth Branch Indoor Meeting by Inga Page

Fiona explained the nature, scope and complexity of the Project. It became clear that managing this wide ranging project to benefit the declining population of Dartmoor moorland birds, with its many stakeholders, is a demanding and critical role.

The project relies on a large number of partners who Fiona has to keep informed and to negotiate a balanced approach to bird positive land management to maximise the potential of habitat for moorland species. This involves study and appreciation of habitat ecology and how soil, atmospheric conditions, land usage by livestock and geology all feed into this multi-faceted challenge. It is a complex problem with a nuanced, thoughtful  and smart solution needed to move forward.

Fiona explained how her role has a strong outreach element and the information is disseminated through presentations, website and leaflets. There are also many volunteers involved in surveys and observations adding to the plethora of data that the project is gathering. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Fiona.

The conservation of Ring Ouzel typifies the work of the project. A study of the bird behaviour, its preferred habitat ecology and the land usage through paid researchers, volunteers and stakeholder negotiation has shaped the approach to conservation techniques. Several sites have been identified and some habitat adaption has been made with some ringed birds showing fidelity to the site and limited success in breeding being witnessed.

The plight of breeding Curlew was also discussed and though there is evidence of one pair returning annually to a particular site their breeding success is very poor. It is thought that many factors have impinged on their breeding including the increasing disturbance from free roaming dogs. This situation is again typical of the problems facing moorland birds with increasing leisure usage of Dartmoor; another factor acting on what needs to be a pragmatic and realistic action plan for the preservation of iconic species of Dartmoor moorland birds.

John Lloyd     Devon Birds Plymouth Branch

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