Society News from February 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



Posted February 26th, 2015 at 9:41 am

Lundy Trip 10th May - Tickets now available in the Shop and by Post

(sailing from Ilfracombe this year due to tide times)

Day Trip to LUNDY   Sunday 10h May 2015


Boarding at Ilfracombe from 8.00am    Sailing from Ilfracombe at 8.30am  Returning to Ilfracombe 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.

Parking info here

The Life of Buzzards - Peter Dare's new book

Posted February 22nd, 2015 at 10:46 am

Dr Peter Dare has been a life-long member of Devon Birds and much of his earlier work studing the Buzzard was carried out around the Postbridge area of Dartmoor.

This book should be published at the end of March and will then be available to purchase through our on-line Shop.  Please be aware that if you purchase through our Shop it will help to benefit our charity.

This is a much-needed update on the Buzzard which today is the most conspicuous and widely distributed diurnal raptor across most of Britain. Buzzards have somehow weathered persecution, pesticide pollution and loss or reduction of prey and it is now pleasing to note that  it has been common for some while to see half a dozen or more of these big hawks on the wing, displaying together in Spring, or assemblies of several dozen juveniles feeding in fields not only in Devon but much further afield.

Taw Torridge field trip to Skern & Isley Marsh 15 Feb

Posted February 17th, 2015 at 10:37 am

On a cold overcast morning 24 of us gathered, wrapped up against the wind, for a walk around the Northam Burrows, Skern area.  Our first sighting was a flock of 300+ Golden Plover on the mudflats with a similar number of Lapwing nearby.  Shelduck, Dunlin, Grey Plover and Oystercatcher were also present.  As we walked, Skylarks were singing and several seen amongst the short dune grass.

On the pebble ridge near the estuary mouth, two Turnstones picked their way along the tide line and a small flock of Wigeon paddled at the water’s edge.  On the Braunton side of the estuary good numbers of Brent Geese and Wigeon were spotted.

By this time and feeling chilled by the cold wind, some headed home for a hot lunch, whilst the more hardy carried on to Isley Marsh, stopping on the way to see the Little Owl which has taken up residence in a derelict building, once used regularly by Little Owls but none seen there for several years.  It was a memorable moment seeing the excitement on the face of our youngest member Ben, on seeing a Little Owl for the first time!

The sun came out while we were eating lunch, highlighting two Mistle Thrush probing through the grass, and with the promise of a warmer afternoon, we set off along the Tarka Trail to the marsh at Isley.     The Spoonbills, seven of them, were soon spotted just off shore roosting on an island of salt marsh vegetation, one obligingly lifting it’s head allowing us good views of it’s unmistakable bill.

It was a tranquil scene as we soaked up the sights and sounds of the estuary with Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, Curlew, Lapwing and a lone Little Grebe.

Behind us the sun caught five Linnets perched in a Hawthorn bush highlighting the handsome male bird.  

Continuing along the river bank, some of us were lucky enough to see a male Merlin chasing a small bird into a scrubby area on the old power station site.

Negotiating the muddy track back to our cars, a Stonechat was seen, then Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Wren, bringing our total number of species to 55; another good day’s birding.

Maria Fernandes

Plymouth Indoor Meeting 9 Feb

Posted February 13th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Emsworthy waits for Emsworthy's return...

 Jackie Gage introduced ‘Mire and Marshes –Wildlife  Conservation of Devon Wildlife Trust’s (DWT) Newest Reserves’ in a well illustrated presentation. One of the reserves referred to was Emsworthy  situated between Haytor Rocks and Widecombe. Last year a cuckoo, sponsored by Devon Birds, was tagged locally and named Emsworthy.  He is currently making his way from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Jackie described her work as the South Devon Reserve Officer by improving habitats  to support a number of  wildlife species that need scrapes, marsh and shorter vegetation.  This is acheived with the help of volunteers for scrub clearance and the restoration of walls to contain grazing sheep and Galloway cattle. This striking valley reveals displaying Snipe and Redstart as would be expected in marshland and lowland areas.  Stunning fields of bluebells appear early June in fields, which have previously been wooded.

The second reserve was South Efford Marsh, near Averton Gifford, owned by the Environment Agency and managed by DWT and is slowly changing to more saltmarsh. Since being taken over four years ago when a tidal gate was installed, salt water is allowed to enter from the River Avon at restricted levels.   Wildlife is beginning to colonise the mud flats and dykes and good views of the scrapes and the estuary can be seen from a newly built hide on the edge of the reserve.  This supports waterfowl and waders, resident  and migrant birds with evidence of Cirl Bunting and otters.  Jackie showed much skill and knowledge in presenting two of the ten  reserves that she currently manages.

The next talk is on 23rd March by Bruce Taggart on ‘Birds of the Tamar Estuary and Great Black Backed Gulls of Looe Island’

Liz Harris

South Devon Talk Mon 16 February

Posted February 9th, 2015 at 11:06 pm

This coming Monday, 16 February, starting at 7.30pm there will be a brief AGM followed by "Butterflies of Southern England" by Bob Bailey,

a coffee break and then Martin Lees will talk on "The Birds of Tobago".

Venue: The Court Farm Inn, Abbotskerswell, TQ12 5PG. 

The meeting room is upstairs in this quaint inviting pub.  Please note all Devon members and visitors are welcome at any field/branch meeting. 

Any enquiries to Martin Lees, tel: 01803 852067

Plymouth Talk Monday 9th Feb

Posted February 2nd, 2015 at 10:57 pm

Come and join the Plymouth Branch meeting at Spurgeon Hall, Mutley Baptist Church, Mutley PL4 6LB this Monday 9th February at 7.30pm.

Jackie Gage, Devon Wildlife Trust warden of the  south Devon reserves will indicate her involvement in the latest projects in her talk 'Mire and Marshes- Wildlife Conservation on Devon Wildlife Trust's Newest Reserves'

These will include Emsworthy Mire near Hay Tor and South Efford Marsh south of Averton Gifford.

For further information contact Liz Harris at 01752 789594 or email

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