Society News from February 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


Seabird Wreck

Posted February 26th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Steve Waite

As many of you will be aware from the news and from sightings posted here the winter storms have taken their toll on many wintering seabirds, especially auks. The RSPB have received reports of a minimum of 174 casualties in Devon including 98 Guillemot, 48 Razorbill, 4 Puffin and singles of Kittiwake, Shag, Great Skua and Manx Shearwater.

Birds have been reported from both coasts with the largest numbers from Saunton Sands, Wembury and Seaton. The Puffins were from Sidmouth, Seaton, Wembury and South Milton.

Around the SW over 800 birds have been reported wrecked, of these around 15% have been oiled, the majority of birds have simply been exhausted trying to ride out the storms.This is a conservative estimate.  No doubt there will have been many more but not found or reported. 

Away from the SW numbers have been much higher with 2-300+ auks reported from individual beaches in south Wales and over the Channel 15,000 dead on French beaches, 11,000 of which are Puffin.

It is thought Puffin have been particularly affected because they dive mostly in the upper 30m of the sea so the extreme turbulence/turbidity due to the storms will have serious hampered their ability to feed. Another possible factor is the later moult of Puffin compared to other auks, many may well have dropped all their primaries and been flightless as the storms rolled in.

To help investigate this if you do come across a dead Puffin if you could to take photos of the head and, if practicable, the wings of beached birds to see if their primaries are still growing that would useful data.

If anyone has been out to Berry Head or other seabird colonies it would be interesting to know if the numbers on the cliffs have been affected yet. Counts this summer may also shed some light on any longer term impacts.

For advice on what to do if you find a seabird washed up in Devon please see here 

Plymouth Branch recent talk ‘A Pilgrims Tail – A life on the Ledge’

Posted February 23rd, 2014 at 9:48 pm

The title with a twist for this superb talk on peregrine falcons in Devon and Cornwall, comes from the Swedish name ‘Pilgrimsfalk’ with ‘falk’  meaning the ‘tail’ and the rest having a Plymouthian connection

Roger Finnamore, Greg Curno and his son Luke, all members of the Southwest Peregrine Group, put together an excellent colourful display and informative presentation at Mutley Baptist Church, Plymouth on 17th February.

Formed in 2007 this study group collects data from over 50 sites, which it sends to the BTO.  Their efforts produce 25% of the national data.  Currently 1500 pairs were reported in UK National Survey1213.  Their website,, shows photos and news of these magnificent birds.

From a skeleton on display, the deep breastbone, to which attaches strong flight muscles illustrated the characteristics of great strength and speed of the peregrine.  Long powerful talons and beak and bulky jaw muscles as well as exceptional vision were described allowing the bird to capture and dispatch prey on the wing.

59 people, who attended the meeting, were rewarded with wonderful videos of the birds on the eyrie yet showed their great care in turning eggs and bringing up their chicks.

The next meeting is on 28th April when John Walters, naturalist, photographer and illustrator will give a presentation on ‘Birds of Dartmoor’ at Spurgeon Hall, Mutley Baptist Church, Plymouth.

(Liz Harris)


Posted February 19th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

Lundy Trip 18th May - Tickets now available in the Shop and by Post

Day Trip to LUNDY   Sunday 18th May 2014


Boarding at Bideford from 8.00am    Sailing from Bideford at 8.30am  Returning to Bideford c 8.30pm

Bar and buffet available on board

Everyone is welcome, birdwatchers or those who would just like a peaceful day on this beautiful Island. We also hope to include a sail around the Island to see the seabirds and seals

When purchasing tickets please provide full name and gender of all passengers; this is a steamship requirement

Adults £29, Children (under 16) £16

Buy through the Shop now


Tickets available from:  Mark Humfrey, Morada, St John’s Lane, Barnstaple  EX32 9DD              Tel. No. 01271344556

All applications must be clearly marked ‘Lundy Trip’ and must include a SAE please. Cheques should be made payable to Devon Birds.

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