Society News from August 2013

Taw & Torridge Branch Indoor Meetings - updated

Posted September 2nd at 5:16 pm in Events by Mike Daniels

The Taw & Torridge Branch are restarting Indoor Meetings at the Castle Centre, Barnstaple. Start times are :7.30pm. Details for the remainder of 2022 and beginning of 2023 are:

8th November - Philip Marlow, African Game Parks are not just the Big 5

13th December - John Walters, the Secret Life of the Long-tailed Tit

10th January 2023 - Emma Scotney, An Introduction to Bats

14th February - James Fentom, Plovers of St Helena: A study

14th March - Stephen Powels, Tawny Owls

11th April - Ian Gaspar, Bird behaviour: an illustrated talk


BBC1 Inside Out Mon 2 Sep at 7.30pm

Posted August 31st, 2013 at 2:35 pm

We have been informed that the Inside Out SW Programme this coming Monday 2nd Sep will show the tagging of the Dartmoor Cuckoos early in the season.  The narration is by Nick Baker and you will also recognise several Devon Bird members who were the key players in this event, Naomi, who also works for the DNP and Dr Malcolm Burgess of Exeter University, who arranged the project with the BTO. As you know both Devon Birds and  DNPA are joint partners for the Dartmoor Cuckoo  project in the nationally run BTO scheme.  John Walters and Charles Tyler, Devon Bird members and wildlife photographers, were also present at the filming.

We understand the programme will also investigate the thousands of sea birds that died off the Devon and Cornwall coast earlier this year.

Our Cuckoos are on the move again

Posted August 14th, 2013 at 6:24 pm


A poor quality signal on 28 June indicated that the last Devon tagged Cuckoo still in the UK was also on his way. Dart was transmitting during his crossing of the English Channel and further signals on 30 June and 1 July showed him travelling down through Central France and Southern France almost following a parallel line to Whortle’s migration south. A good location on 3 July placed him just over 30 km (20 miles) north-west of Montpellier, having covered around 930km (580 miles).  On 20h July Dart made his way to Mallorca but his tag has not transmitted since, which may mean he is in thick undergrowth and hopefully his next transmission will show he is on the move.


He left Holne area on 21/22 June and by Sunday evening (23rd) was on the coast of Brittany and Lower Normandy by 25 June. He was about 50km (30 miles) north of Rennes, after completing a distance of 270km (169 miles) including crossing the English Channel at one of its widest points.  Where he fed up a few miles NW of Toulouse.

A week later on 16 July when he transmitted he had become the most southerly tagged Cuckoo. 35km (20 miles) south-west of Valencia, 530km (330 miles) SSW of his last position in France. Further signals received on the evening of 18 July show that he had continued south and was leaving the Atlas Mountains of Morocco in a south-westerly direction. This makes him the first of the tagged Cuckoos to arrive in Africa and he has taken the westerly route via Spain. The transmission period continued until the early hours of 19 July showing that he was still heading south, close to the Algerian-Moroccan border.  He then retraced his steps a little, back to a much greener area of Morocco, the Tazekka National Park close to Fes where we imagine food would be more plentiful.

On 6 Aug he moved 69km (43 miles) northwards f to Taounate, a town in northern Morocco, in the Rif Mountains. This region receives more rainfall than any other region in Morocco, particularly in the west and central areas, which is presumably has some good feeding opportunities before he makes his desert crossing.

This afternoon, 14 August, a transmission from Ryder has him heading south over Mauritania.  He had covered 750 miles but still has as far again to go before he reaches the other side of the desert and suitable feeding conditions. We wish him well.


Tor crossed to France on Thurs 27 June, he was over 340km (200 miles) to the east in the region of Lorraine, close to the Vosgues Mountains about 30km (19 miles) south-west of the border with Germany having covered 475 miles!   He then made incredible progress, by 23 July he was in Corsica, then two days later he crossed the rest of the Mediterranean into Tunisia, crossing the Sahara along the border of Algeria and Libya, through Niger and is now in Nigeria. He appears to be on the edge of the Erma Nature Reserve fairly close to the border with Chad where we assume he is able to feed up after his epic journey where he covered at least 3450km (2140 miles). 


The third of the four Cuckoos tagged on Dartmoor made his move late on 26 June but a satellite transmission on 28 Jun showed his new location in the south of France. Whortle was North West of Marseille, about 80km inland, seemingly not far from the Gorges de l'Ardèche Nature Reserve.   Signals on evening of 1st July show that he continued 206km (128 miles) to the extreme south-east corner of France close to the Italian border.  Whortle ventured in to the PoValley in Italy in the early morning of 4 July, travelling 85km (53 miles)  from his corner of France. A series of transmissions showed him moving around the area near Piampaludo but two days later return to his previous location in France. He may have been unable to find sufficient food and therefore returned to the last good feeding site.

Since then, for about three weeks, he has been feeding up in the Southern Alps and inland West of Barcelona. On 30 July Whortle flew 135km (83 miles) south within Spain, leaving the area he had been in for two weeks, and he is now close to Linares de Mora in Teruel. We assume he is getting ready to continue to Africa soon.

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