Society News from August 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


Bird Disturbance on Kingsbridge Estuary

Posted August 27th, 2014 at 5:18 pm

As many members know there is a bird hide down at West Charleton Marsh and the Kingsbridge estuary has an active bird population feeding as the tide allows and a large roost area as well.

There are proposals for Water Ski-ing to be allowed in this area of the estuary on a regular basis which we believe would be extremely disruptive and damaging for the resident birds and the large numbers of roosting and overwintering birds.

As a society for the protection of Devon Birds we have written to the Harbour Master registering our opposition to this proposal.  There are already water ski-ing facilities granted and in use around Salcombe and the proposed request would put further strain on the birds in the Estuary.

There is an online petition (link below) opposing plans to Water Ski this area, if you believe that this additional water-skiing will affect our birds and other wildlife please sign the petition below.

or make your concerns known to Nigel Mortimer of the South Hams AONB ( as he is collating all the community responses to put before the Salcombe Harbour Board.


Posted August 18th, 2014 at 10:37 pm

The Western Morning News Countryside Awards shortlist is out and Devon Birds is short listed under the category Contribution to Wildlife for its support with DNPA of the Cuckoo tagging and Satellite tracking project

In a recent Western Morning News it stated: 

"Flight of the Cuckoo: Devon Birds, in partnership with Dartmoor National Park Authority, is taking part in a national project managed by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to track Dartmoor’s cuckoos via satellite on their long migration between their breeding grounds here, and their wintering grounds in Africa".

Philip Bowern looks at the individuals, businesses and organisations who have been recognised and will go forward to battle for the top award in each category.

The rural Westcountry is a place of work, a place to play and a place of great beauty. But it is the people in it who make it tick.

On September 11 at the St Mellion golf and country club, in Cornwall, some of those individuals and the businesses and organisations they work for will be recognised in the inaugural Western Morning News Countryside Awards.

Recently the judges, led by WMN editor Bill Martin together with National Farmers’ Union South West regional Director Melanie Hall and Julie Edwards, Mole Valley Farmers Marketing and Communications Manager, studied the nominations for the difficult job of drawing up a shortlist.

The identity of the winners in each category will be revealed at the awards ceremony on 11 September but each of those individuals, organisations and projects shortlisted have already shown themselves to be great representatives of the rural Westcountry and all the great work it performs.

Mr Martin said: “Every one of the nominees was worthy of recognition in some way – but we feel that those on our shortlist best meet the criteria we set in each of the categories.

It is great that our work with Cuckoos has been recognised but we are up against stiff competion as the other two nominees are Stover Country Park a 114 acre site and Gerald Babcock nominated by Cornwall Wildlife Trust for work he carries out in many areas of Cornwall.

Help required to check for oil and "beached" birds around the Devon Coast

Posted August 18th, 2014 at 8:36 pm

The RSPB have asked if we would pass on their request for more volunteers to help with the Beached Bird Survey – can you help?

  • Do you live near the coast and like walking along the beach?
  • Do you have a basic knowledge of seabirds?
  • If so, please read on and volunteer for the Beached Bird Survey

The Beached Bird Survey is an effective way of monitoring trends in oil and other pollution incidents that affect seabirds.  The RSPB needs more volunteers to take part in this simple survey in SW England so we can increase our coverage of accessible coastline.  It involves walking an allocated stretch of beach and recording any oil and the number and species of any `beached’ birds.  Details of the survey and requirements are on the link below.

The annual Beached Bird Survey has been running since 1971.  It enables RSPB to track chronic oil pollution (caused by ships washing out tanks at sea, now illegal thanks to efforts of conservation organisations including RSPB).  Thankfully we have seen a decline in this chronic pollution over the years but our seas are not safe from pollution.  Major incidents have occurred in recent years where emergency Beached Bird Surveys enabled RSPB to assess the impact on seabirds and to take action (eg, after the PIB incidents in 2013, RSPB, in partnership with other organisations and the public, achieved a global ban on the previously legal discharge of this substance as tank washings at sea).

If you would like to help seabirds and the marine environment by walking a beach in your area for the annual Beached Bird Survey in late February (and if you are potentially available to take part in any emergency Beached Bird Surveys organised after a major incident affecting seabirds), please get in touch. If you’ve a local beach in mind, we can allocate that to you if it is not already being surveyed or alternatively we may have some vacant stretches in your area that may be suitable.

To register your interest in volunteering for Beached Bird Survey, please contact Natasha Simmons ( with your name, contact details and coastline of interest.  We will hold some meetings for existing and new volunteers later this year to which you will be invited.  We will match new volunteers with beaches before Christmas and provide all the information you need ahead of the next Beached Bird Survey in February 2015.

Field Trip to Witheridge Moor on 31 July

Posted August 4th, 2014 at 7:51 pm

The forecast was for rain coming at about 12 noon. It was, therefore, a bit of a surprise when it started to rain two hours early just as the eight participants of the Mid Devon visit were assembling. A decision was made to set off for the wooded area on the edge of the moor in order to get a little bit of shelter from the rain and in the hope that the rain would have ceased by the time we emerged onto the open moor again.

Just after starting off one of our first sightings were of 7 Red Deer hinds among some of the bushes on the moor. In the wooded area the birds seemed to be keeping their heads down due to the rain and very little was seen or heard. However, among the birds that were seen/heard were Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Treecreeper by Geoff Hawkins

Once back onto the open moor we were met with the rain beginning to cease, the sun coming out, an immediate increase in warmth and then butterflies appearing almost instantaneously. The majority of the butterflies were Green-veined Whites with Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Marbled White making up some of the 10 species seen on the day. A Fox Moth caterpillar was also found by one of the participants. Among the birds seen were a family of 4 Stonechats feeding on grass seed in the middle of the roadway, another pair of Stonechat of which the male was carrying food, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll and a Meadow Pipit with what looked to be a grasshopper in its beak. The normally present Tree Pipit and Skylark did not put in an appearance during the morning however Raven and Buzzard were heard nearby.

Despite the rain putting a slight damper on proceedings at the start, it was not for too long and the morning on the moor was enjoyed by all.

Ray Jones


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