Society News from December 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


Season's Greetings and News update

Posted December 28th, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Just to let you know that the Devon Atlas is with the printers and we are hoping to receive it mid to late January.  Finalising the proof reading etc of the Atlas did mean that the schedule for the Devon Bird Report for 2014 was also put back and as soon as we have a date for this we shall let you know.

I would like to take this opportunity of saying a very big thank you to the Atlas team, Council members, Society Officers, Branches and all our members for another successful and enjoyable year for Devon Birds in 2015.

If you have not been involved so far consider volunteering for the coming year, it can be great fun and you certainly don't have to be a bird "expert", just willing to give some time and join in the fun and good work we try to do.  If you fancy something physical come along and help with the annual reed cutting at South Milton Ley on 17 Jan or speak to Julia   (01822 853785) about other ways of contributing to our charity.

Finally I would like to wish everyone Season's Greetings and good birding in 2016. 

Common Rosefinch Mike Daniels

Please don't forget to start writing up your records for 2015 and send them in to us for inclusion in the 2015 Report.


 If you are reading this and haven't yet signed up to join Devon Birds then you can do so here.

George  (Chairman)

Talk - Mike Langman - Trips to Iceland through the seasons

Posted December 27th, 2015 at 7:57 pm

Mike Langman will be talkiing to the Topsham Birdwatching & Naturalist Soc on Fri 15 January about his visits to Iceland through the seasons.  The talk will take place at Matthews Hall, Topsham, Exeter starting at 7.30pm. All welcome.

Spring/Summer 2016 Nightjar Survey

Posted December 17th, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Devon Birds have offered to help The Forestry and RSPB survey Nightjars on Haldon Forest area and Fernworthy, Soussons and Bellever Forests on Dartmoor next year. 

Forestry are keen to find out more about these birds to help with their future planting plans. Read more about it here and if you would like to offer your help please email Peter Devenport of the Forestry Commission or mob:  07836 321125.

British Birds - free monthly e-newsletter

Posted December 17th, 2015 at 3:47 pm

British Birds magazine – New monthly newsletter

Many of our members will already be subscribers to British Birds or may have taken up trial offers available recently. Whether you subscribe or not, however, you may like to receive their free e-newsletter every month. This offers a flavour of what has been published recently and what is in the pipeline in areas such as book of the month, news and comment, the rarities section and further special offers.

This is a new initiative from one of Britain’s leading birding publication. It covers the UK and Western Palearctic and has been the birdwatchers’ journal of record since 1907. It is read and recommended by many well known amateur and professional ornithologists, writers and photographers with Simon King stating that “British Birds is the gold standard of ornithological literature in the UK”.  

To receive the newsletters, just log on to and complete the sign up form at the bottom of the page. Give it a try!

News from Taw/Torridge field meetings

Posted December 15th, 2015 at 6:03 pm

22nd November 2015

20 members turned out for a circular walk along the tidal creek at Fremington, and Isley Marsh RSPB reserve.

The morning was overcast with the occasional shower but improved later.  A Jay flew across the creek into mature oaks and a Raven ‘cronked’ overhead as we made our way along the road.  Mostly Redshank feeding on the intertidal mud, with a lone Greenshank and a Grey Wagtail at the water’s edge.  A flock of bathing House Sparrows amused us flying back and forth repeatedly between puddle and bush.

From Fremington Quay, on the sand banks many birds were spotted including Pintail, Shelduck, Great Black-Backed Gull and Grey Heron whilst flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover took to the air.

Walking back through mature woodland a Song Thrush was singing, and Goldcrest, Bullfinch, Nuthatch and Marsh Tit were also seen.

At Isley Marsh the sun shone spotlighting 2 Spoonbills roosting on a mud bank with 8 Little Egrets and 5 Greenshanks near by.  One of the Spoonbill was identified as a regular visitor, colour ringed 8 years ago in the Netherlands.

Continuing along the River Taw, we had Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Snipe, Knot and a Kingfisher patrolling along the river bank.

Another enjoyable day’s birding.  60 species seen. 

 13th December 2015

On a fine and unseasonably warm day, 12 members joined our last walk of the year along the River Taw from Barnstaple to Ashford.  The usual waders and shore birds were about, Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Grebe, Canada Goose and a large flock 175+ of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. A Peregrine put up a huge flock of birds including 85+ Lapwing and more than a 1000 Golden Plover which made a dramatic spectacle.

A cup of hot chocolate at our destination ended another good year’s birding with the Taw/Torridge branch.  Total species 38.

Maria Fernandes

Mount Batten Field Trip by Plymouth Group

Posted December 5th, 2015 at 9:08 pm

The meeting was nearly “blown up” as gale force winds battered the 10 keen members who attended on Sat 5 Dec. It was very difficult to stand still/use telescopes but we managed to find an auk and Gannet as well as a number of Cormorants and Shag as we looked towards the Breakwater.    After a walk to the tower we moved to the Cattewater side and were rewarded with a good view of 7 Turnstone and a Rock Pipit (which had a yellow ring on its right leg.) 

In spite of our best efforts little else was seen but three keen members made their way to Radford Lake and saw four Little Grebe, several Grey Herons and 100+ Black-headed Gulls.  At Hooe Lake they saw Shelduck on the mud and 3 Redshank sheltering in a wreck.

Please don’t forget the next meeting at Bowling Green Marsh on TUESDAY 5th JAN 2016 10.00am and let's hope the weather will be kinder to us!  Lesley Goonesekera

Our Conference - now on our Youtube channel

Posted December 1st, 2015 at 3:39 pm

The one-day conference, A Better Future for Devon’s Birds, held at Exeter Racecourse on 6 November was a tremendous success. Here are just some of the comments made by people who were there:
“Many thanks indeed for a brilliant day. The format, the programme itself, memorable contributions all round with the bonus of some incredible photography and generally a wonderfully friendly gathering. It was a marvellous effort getting together at one sitting such a range of influential people.”
“Even two weeks after the conference, I find myself still buzzing from the inspiration and camaraderie which shone so brightly from the assembled crowd. I genuinely struggle to think of another conference I have attended that has had such good speakers and such a passionate and relevant mix of attendees."
“A huge ‘well done’ on a superb day - brilliantly organised, a great buzz and a fascinating and challenging set of talks throughout the day.”
Just to say how much I enjoyed the conference. The speakers were superb - stimulating and provocative.”
“Many congratulations for organising such a popular and engaging conference. I enjoyed it, learnt a lot and left feeling that solidarity amongst the Devon birding community was high!”
For those Devon Birds’ members who were there, I think you’ll agree that it was an inspirational day. For those who couldn’t make it, all is not lost. I’m happy to say that we’ve produced a Conference Special edition of The Harrier that contains a full report of all the talks on the day. You can download your copy here:   Conference Harrier
And if you’d like to watch the talks - or relive the whole day - you’ll find them all on our Youtube channel, A Better Future for Devon’s Birds here:
I hope you enjoy it.

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