Society News from November 2014

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 - John Walters, the Secret Life of the Long-tailed Tit

13th December - Philip Marlow, African Game Parks are not just the Big 5

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


Special Christmas Offer: The Birds of Devon by MW Tyler £22 for members

Posted November 29th, 2014 at 12:14 pm

As a special offer for Christmas we have reduced the price of The Birds of Devon by MW Tyler to £22 for members, normal price £25.

Please see our Shop for more information.

Taw Torridge Trip to Somerset Levels

Posted November 23rd, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Fourteen of us gathered at Greylake RSPB reserve on Wednesday 19 November, where we were joined by four members from South and East Devon.

Approaching the reserve we spotted Redwing flying over and good numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover in the wet pastures by the side of the road.  Settling down in the hide with our flasks of coffee, we watched dabbling ducks feeding in the flashes, Fieldfare feeding in the distant hedgerows, a small group of Roe Deer on the marsh and three Peregrines preening on posts.

We then headed to Ashcott Corner and Shapwick Heath.  On the walk to the hides, some of the group had Water Rail, Great Crested Grebe and a brief view of a Bittern.

The high point over lunch in Meare hide was a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds, with the sun catching her golden head, it was a beautiful sight.

On to Noah hide just in time to shelter from a very heavy shower; from here we had good views of Great White Egret as well as a lone Snipe, Kingfisher andvarious duck including Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall and Tufted.

Heading to the viewing platform at Ham Wall, another glimpse of Bittern and good views of Great White Egret. Then at dusk the wonderful sight of thousands of Starling flying in from all directions and swirling across the sky in ever changing patterns before descending to roost, made a lovely ending to the day.

Bird species seen 49.

Maria Fernandes

Mid Devon's Visit to Meeth Quarry 20 Nov

Posted November 23rd, 2014 at 5:11 pm

A group of twelve met at the Wildlife Trust Car Park, including two prospective new members which was encouraging and they were given a warm welcome.  We walked along to the Lake by which time we had spotted 20 different species including Goldcrest, Treecreeper, Stonechat, Raven, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Lesser Black-backed Gull. 

We were lucky with the weather, despite it being November, which allowed us to enjoy a pleasant picnic lunch overlooking one of the small ponds surrounded by autumnal colours.  We walked back along the Tarka trail to the car park and the total number of bird species for the day was 34, plus Roe Deer which were seen running across the fields.

The Devon Wildlife Trust are to be congratulated for their ongoing work in transforming the redundant quarry into the variety of habitats within the reserve.  

A thoroughly enjoyable day for everyone with a special thank you to Digby for not only leading the walk but for being a mine of information about the area’s history and its subsequent development as a reserve.


Plymouth Meeting 17th Nov

Posted November 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm

There was a quick AGM where Liz Harris and her successful team were appointed to continue to run the branch followed by the main event, a talk on Starlings.

What do you know about the behaviour of Starlings that create magnificent murmurations when in flight during the winter months?  Some of these answers were given by Peter Reay, and then Phil Dean and John Walters when presenting a  wonderful talk on ‘Starling Gazing in South Brent – And Beyond’.

Peter described how interest was stimulated in Starlings when large numbers of starlings were observed roosting in several of  the nine clumps of bamboo growing around the village. Having reached numbers of 10,000 during the winter of 2012/2013, these went down to 500 last year. Peter talked about the uniqueness of each bird’s song with its many types of clicks and calls and their approximate dusk to dawn roosting period.

Phil relayed the findings from the Brent Bird Survey set up in South Brent village in 2014 and due to run for three years. The aim is to carry out a 1km square level survey to collect numbers of birds and wildlife and evidence of breeding in the 40 plus squares of the South Brent parish. 

An old Pathe News clip showed  numerous Starlings roosting in the fronds of a six metre bamboo plantation.  Once considered a pest (and still considered so at some roost sites) they have declined dramatically as a UK breeding bird over the last 50 years.

After the break John captured the dynamic shapes of the murmurations on camera in several different areas including Okehampton Camp and Whiteworks.

 Still, questions about Starling behaviour remain.  Do they come together for safety and  to communicate about feeding areas, and what makes them leave the bamboo early morning at varying times?  With Starling numbers in sharp decline, any observations gained by the 20-30 volunteers in the village will continue to make up the bigger picture.

All three speakers presented a slick, professional and informative talk, which was much enjoyed.

Liz Harris


RAFFLE results

Posted November 18th, 2014 at 5:06 pm

CONGRATULATIONS to the following members who were successful in our annual Raffle

1st prize     £200                                                                         Mr V Tucker

2nd prize    Painting of a Red Kite                                                Mr M Humfrey

3rd prize     £75                                                                          Mr C D Stacey

4th prize     Two tickets to Lundy                                                  Mr I Taylor

5th prize     Two tickets for the Devon Birds trip to Lundy 2015        Mrs M Nutt

6th prize     Best Bird Watching Sites: Cornwall & Scilly                Mr K Cox

7th prize     Best Bird Watching Sites: Cornwall & Scilly                Mrs J Lawrence

Meeth Quarry Thurs 20th

Posted November 6th, 2014 at 11:40 am

Mid Devon Group have organised a field trip to Meeth Quarry on Thurs 20 Nov 10.00am - meet at the car park SS539084.

This is an ideal location for an autumn visit when ducks and thrushes are arriving daily.

Annabelle will be leading this Field Trip and further information and details are available by contacting her on tel 01392 439685 or Mob: 07557 736456

The next event in the Mid Devon calendar is a short walk on Tues 9 Dec at 10.00am (meet village car park SX880979) in the historic and picturesque village of Newton St Cyres followed by lunch at Crediton Golf Course.
Come and join Mid Devon branch for a seasonal Christmas Lunch to celebrate the new branch which was re-launched there 18 months ago.  Everyone welcome even if you can't make the walk. 
Please let Annabelle know in advance numbers for lunch as she will have to let the Golf Club know details etc.Come and join the Mid Devon branch in the historic and picturesque village of Newton St Cyres for a short walk followed by a seasonal Christmas Lunch at Crediton Golf Club where the branch was launched 18 months ago.  Everyone welcome.

The date: Tuesday 9th December 10.00am

Location:  meet in village car park, SX880979 Newton St Cyres

The Lunch: £14 for two courses inc coffee and mints

Please email Annabelle Strickland or tel 01392 439685 by Fri 21 Nov at the latest to book a lunch place and the walk.

Even if you haven't made the recent field trips come along and join us for lunch.

Seasons Greetings  Annabelle 

Mon 17 Nov Plymouth - Starling Gazing

Posted November 6th, 2014 at 10:38 am

Do come and join us for 'Starling Gazing in South Brent and Beyond' by Peter Reay, John Walters and Phil Dean plus a brief AGM.
At this time of year Starlings are gathering together and the speakers will give us an insight of their behaviour.

The Devon Birds annual Raffle will be drawn at this event so bring your tickets and see if you are a winner!

The meeting is at Spurgeon Hall, Mutley Baptist Church PL4 6LB at 7.30pm.
The hall is upstairs via the entrance on the side of the church by the public car park.
Refreshments are provided.
Everyone welcome
Contact Liz Harris Tel 01752 789594

Plymouth Branch Field Meeting on Thursday 13th Nov at Thurlestone at 10am.
We are looking for waders and coastal birds.
Meet at the car park on the top of the cliff beyond the golf club SX676420.  Look forward to meeting you there

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