Society News from November 2015

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


Golden Eagle Watercolour print

Posted November 19th, 2015 at 11:56 pm

This wonderfully detailed watercolour print by Paul Henderson measures 60cm high by 49 cm wide, including frame.

This has been donated for auction and the proceeds will be donated to Devon Birds.

Bids over the reserve price of £150 by email to or by post to Treasurer, Pendragon, Cornworthy, Totnes, TQ9 7ES   Closing Date: 31 December.

Photo of Golden Eagle Print

Photo of Golden Eagle Watercolour print

NB:  The painting will be delivered to a Devon address free of charge.

Report on Berry Head talk and Plymouth Branch AGM

Posted November 19th, 2015 at 11:12 pm

The Jewell of Berry Head

For the last meeting of the year Mike Langman gave an excellent pictorial guide of Berry Head during his presentation ‘Forty of Berry Head’s Four Million Years - a Brief Birding Encounter’. This headland, which is two hundred foot high, makes up one side of Torbay and supports an old Napoleonic fort. The fort once housed a garrison to protect the English fleet on the south coast. Now it offers protection for migrant birds attracted by the light from the lighthouse particularly during poor weather.  The lighthouse claims to be the smallest but highest in the British Isles and is ideal for observing large numbers of passing birdlife.

The contorted layers of limestone on the cliffs gives suitable nesting ledges for a thousand guillemots, the largest colony on the South Coast and is viewed from the hide on the top of the west side of the headland.  Out to sea, basking sharks, bottle nosed dolphins and harbour porpoises can be spotted as well as many gulls and gannet, which follow the trawlers heading for Brixham. The old quarry can give shelter on the east side and allows good views of skuas, auks and shearwaters.

Areas of scrubland and woodland offer habitat for birds such as Firecrest, tits and warblers. More unusual species like the Wryneck, Long-eared Owl and Hoopoe have been found. The rare white rockrose and many orchids grow and adders, common lizard and painted lady and clouded yellow butterflies survive here.

By surveying the same site over 40 years, since being a YOC member, Mike is able to note an increase in species like the yellow-browed Warbler and Cirl Bunting but a decrease in some species such as Whitethroat and Tree Sparrow. However wildlife has to compete with disturbance from many dog walkers and visitors.

Being an illustrator and artist, Mike sketches and makes notes of skulking shapes in the bushes to help identification. Indeed his sketch book is an art form in itself. His excellent photographs reflected his great skills and his time spent covering the area.

There are few places where one can enjoy so many variable habitats and witness fifteen thousand Redwing and Fieldfare flying overhead, as was recorded during one migration count. Mike quoted a friend- ‘If you’re not out, you’ll see nought’.

A short AGM preceded the talk and two new committee members, Jill and Phil Stevens were elected to add to the nine who are prepared to continue next year. I wish to thank all the committee who have worked to produce another successful year.            Liz Harris

Reed Cutting - South Milton Ley Sun 17 Jan Diary Date!

Posted November 18th, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Every year or so, Devon Birds' volunteers cut a hectare or two of the reed bed in South Milton Ley to regenerate growth.  It is expected the reeds will be dry enough to cut and burn by the end of the year and so the reed cut will take place on Sunday 17 January 10.00am, so please let Vic or Nick know if you will be able to help and make a note in your diary.

Our mechanical reed cutter greatly reduces the work of the volunteers but there is still plenty to be done by hand, gathering and burning the reeds.  It is a friendly atmosphere and an enjoyable few hours of physical work!

Please contact  Vic Tucker (01752 216887)  if you are interested in helping with the reed cutting or Nick Townsend.  Tel: 01548 560243  Further details will be posted nearer the date.

the Non-estuarine Waterbird Survey (NEWS) help required - just one visit during Dec/Jan

Posted November 13th, 2015 at 4:23 pm

"NEWS", the Non-estuarine Waterbird Survey, is an occasional survey  organised by the BTO to determine waterbird numbers on coastal sites, as opposed to the estuaries and freshwater sites covered by the monthly Wetland Bird Survey. The last NEWS took place in 2006/7, and the latest will take place this coming winter. Further details can be found on, where you can also request a sector. Devon is divided into seven regions in total, split between north and south.

North (local organiser – Brian O’Leary)

  • Lundy
  • Cornwall county border to Bideford Bar, Appledore
  • Bideford Bar, Appledore to Somerset county border

South (local organiser – Peter Reay):

  • Cornwall county border to Salcombe
  • Salcombe to Budleigh Salterton
  • Budleigh Salterton to Seaton
  • Seaton to Lyme Regis

Maps on the website show the location of sectors, both priority and non-priority, and those already allocated. The survey starts on 1 December. but only requires a minimum of one visit to each sector between then and 31 January 2016.

Requests are already underway, with several priority sectors already allocated (these have to be allocated first). So please consider adding this new and potentially exciting dimension to your winter birding by requesting sectors now - while there are still some left!!  

To give some idea of what is involved, the previous NEWS survey (2006/7) results for Devon are summarised in the 2006 Devon Bird Report pp 173-176. 

Thanks in anticipation for supporting NEWS - and the BTO.

Pete Reay

Field Trip to Meldon Reservoir 8 Dec

Posted November 11th, 2015 at 9:44 am

Christmas Walk and/or Lunch, Meet at Meldon Reservoir Car Park, SX563917, 10.00am, walk ofapproximately two miles.  Then drive to Betty Cottles Inn for lunch at 1.00pm – please let Annabelle Strickland know if you plan to join the Group for lunch and if you want traditional turkey, or beef roast, or alternatively order from the bar menu.

This walk is organised by Mid Devon Group but all members are welcome plus friends.

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