Society News from April 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


Field Trip Whitchurch Down - 29 April

Posted April 30th, 2015 at 8:40 pm

A really good turnout of birdwatchers (15) for a new area Field Meeting for Mid Devon. David Thomas led us across the edge of Tavistock golf club and down into the valley of a tributary of the River Tavy.  Out of the wind we could hear Blackcap and manyh more birds than we saw, yet still had good sightings of Willow Warbler, Linnet, Raven and Long-tailed Ttit amongst others. Upstream towards ‘Penny-come-quick bridge’, it was a toll bridge many years ago and the name comes from the one penny toll and hurry across to let the next wagon come across.   A stiff climb brought us up to a disused quarry with Chaffinch, meadow pipit flitting around, but we couldn't find the regular Redstart there; then back over the Down, skirting the beautiful and fragrant gorse and the newly born foals, back to the cars for lunch.

Those that stayed for the afternoon for a short walk on the shoulder of Pew Tor (historically Pu Tor) were well rewarded with good views of Yellowhammer and Tree Pipit, also Mistle Thrush and a Swallow flew overhead.

David's wife, Greta invited us back for a cuppa and home made cake, which was a lovely way to end the day.   Many thanks to them both.                   Annabelle Strickland

Total species - 32

Next Field Meeting – 12 May 0930 - Meldon – meet at car park (near viaduct) SX561918 Leader – Roger Jewell

House Martin Survey - help required

Posted April 29th, 2015 at 9:48 pm

In 2015 the BTO are starting a survey of House Martins and our local BTO Regional Rep., Stella Beavan, has explained  'We need volunteers who are willing to carry out two or three visits to a 1-km square between late May and mid-July, to look for House Martins and their nests.

The squares for this year are randomly selected and will help to establish a baseline.  It would be really great to have DB members take part in the survey.

Anyone can read about the survey at  and volunteer to take part.  There are also leaflets available to explain to anyone who is concerned why they looking at houses with binoculars!"  Request a leaflet

Next year volunteers will also be able to select their own sites to monitor.' 

Taw Torridge field trip to Parracombe & Shallowford on 23 April

Posted April 26th, 2015 at 11:10 pm

Fifteen of us gathered on a sunny morning for a walk in the Parracombe area, lead by Margaret Phillips who has been recording birds on this route for the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey for the past 15 years.

We began by walking along an ancient track lined with mature Beech, Oak and Sycamore, birds were singing and we soon had Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and several Blackcaps, a Nuthatch joined in and then a yaffling Green Woodpecker.

We continued over the old Lynton to Barnstaple railway line passing the thirteenth century church of St Petroc, with violets, primroses and bluebells flowering in profusion along the way.

We then headed towards the open common where the gorse in full bloom scented the air, with Swallows and House Martins swooping overhead and a Skylark singing, adding to our sense of wellbeing.

After a picnic lunch we continued to Shallowford where a moorland stream runs down to join Barbrook, a favourite spot for common redpoll. They were not seen but we did have Redstart, Linnet, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting with Swallows and Skylark overhead. 

Thank you once again to Margaret for showing us ‘her patch’ and another lovely day birding.          

Total species 46                            Jackie Bosley

Plymouth Field trip visit to Stoke

Posted April 26th, 2015 at 11:09 pm

A successful meeting took place on Thursday 23rd April.  It was a “Yellow” day with plenty of lovely views of male Yellowhammers singing in the lovely sunshine.  There were also plenty of good views of Whitethroat as we walked along the road parallel to the coast in the hedgerows.  The highlight for me, however, was seeing a Spotted Flycatcher perched on a wire briefly before it dived into the trees. 

As we walked down to the coastal path a Willow Warbler made a brief appearance, but the Chiffchaff and Cirl Bunting were more obliging calling and showing well as we walked along the path.  More birds were seen, including Blackcap, as we made our way through the woods and plenty of butterflies entertained us.  I would like to thank John Davidson for helping to lead the group, just a pity so few came to enjoy this meeting.

Lesley Goonesekera

Report on Ruby Trail Walk by Mid Devon on 14 April

Posted April 18th, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Nine members enjoyed a splendid spring day walking the lanes and riverside close to the market town of Hatherleigh. The early morning mist soon burned off to give perfect birding conditions, in still air and bright sunshine we were able to record 34 species.

The lack of leaves on the trees made bird spotting much easier for the nine pairs of enthusiastic eyes. Some interesting courtship displays and calls were encountered, the Great Spotted Woodpecker in particular gave us a tree top treat as a pair pursued one another oblivious to the birders below.

The River Lew was sparkling in the late morning sunshine and it was not long before a Dipper was sighted as it collected nesting material then darted down stream to its regular breeding site below the old railway bridge. Spring flowers were bursting all along the hedgerows, abundant Primroses and Violet showing well, with Bluebell and Ramsons about to flower. A Tortoiseshell butterfly was seen feeding on the Marsh Marigold flowers and Yellow Brimstone were making the most of the warm sunshine.Dipper R Lew Sue Hayes

The group had a relaxing picnic lunch sitting on the river bank, rewarded with the sight of a pair of Nuthatch putting the finishing touches to their chosen nest in a tree hole immediately opposite us. They had been busy reducing the nest entrance hole to the required size. A Grey Heron gave us a fly-pass, circling Buzzards making the most of the thermals, and Teal took fright from their secret pond in the woods, all exciting to watch.

In the afternoon most of the group spent an hour on Hatherleigh Moor where we enjoyed distant views of Dartmoor and added Willow Warbler and Skylark to our list.

A thoroughly rewarding day in excellent company of the friendly Mid Devon members.   Digby Greenhill   Many thanks to Digby for leading the walk and to Sue Hayes for the beautiful Dipper photograph.         Annabelle

Next meeting - Belstone Dawn Chorus walk lead by Chris Walpole followed by breakfast in the Village Hall on Saturday 25 April at 0530, meeting at the Village Hall. 

Following meeting - Whitchurch Down lead by David Thomas on Tuesday, 28 April, meeting at 0930,  SX505735.

The Cuckoos are back!

Posted April 15th, 2015 at 10:15 pm

We have been receiving news of Cuckoos being heard and seen for the past few days and yesterday (14th  April) and especially today (15th) the records are starting to stream in with well over twenty already from as far apart as nr Barnstaple, Plymbridge, Exmoor and on Dartmoor there are already reports from nr Gibbets Hill, above Harford, Mannaton, Willsworthy, Roborough Common, Soussons area.  All on our Live Sightings map on the front page of the website.

If you see or hear a Cuckoo anywhere in Devon we would like to know so please submit your sighting to our website, enter it on our map.  Iif you enter the information the same day as you see the bird the dot is red if it is an earlier sighting it is blue.  Spread the word and encourage everyone to enter their sightings this year to help us build up a detailed map of the Devon Cuckoo distribution.

If you ae unable to enter the sighting you can phone 01822 853785 or email


The Puffins are here at LUNDY - get your tickets now!

Posted April 7th, 2015 at 2:19 pm

  LUNDY VISIT 10 May - get your tickets now!

30 Puffins have already arrived and more to follow:

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.  Please note due to Easter holidays there will be a short delay in posting out tickets.

Parking info here

Help our birds: provide Wildflower Meadows - 10 April

Posted April 4th, 2015 at 1:09 pm

Wildflower meadow evening: A celebration of wildflower meadows in Scoriton Village Hall with one of the UK’s leading ecologists, George Peterken, author of the definitive guide.
Wildflower meadows help our birds also bees love them, butterflies love them, people love them. Nothing sums up summer like the experience of walking through a species-rich meadow, carpeted with flowers and alive with insects.
Yet across the country, wildflower meadows have all but disappeared – 98 per cent of them have gone since the Second World War. And Dartmoor is no different. Fortunately, there are still some wonderful survivors. 
If you have a meadow or pasture you would like to restore to a flowering meadow, or if you simply wish to create wild areas in your garden – gardens and orchards can be wildflower meadows too - then come to Scoriton Village Hall on the evening of April 10 to discover more.
George Peterken, the renowned author of the definitive guide to meadows, will be the key speaker at this first meeting. George is a hugely knowledgeable ecologist who will introduce the subject and talk about a similar project he is involved with in the Wye Valley. Other speakers include John Walters, the Devon-based naturalist and author of The Wildlife of Dartmoor; he will talk about the abundant wildlife to be found in meadows, especially our local ones. And Phil Chandler will talk about his project to reintroduce the native black honeybee to Dartmoor. There will also be a short practical introduction to making your own haymeadow in six easy steps. 
The evening is being organised by a small group of local people whose aim is to start a friendly group who will help each other in conserving, restoring and creating flower rich grasslands in the landscape of Dartmoor. 
This first Moor Meadows meeting is on the 10th of April at Scoriton Village Hall, Devon TQ11 OJB. It will start at 7.30pm and finish by 9.30pm. 
The event is free and you will be welcomed with a FREE glass of wine. As seats are limited, please reserve your place now by emailing <>_

East Devon Branch remembering David Jannaway

Posted April 2nd, 2015 at 12:46 pm

East Devon Branch members remembered David Jannaway, at a ceremony held at Hawkerland Common, East Devon on Monday 30 March, when a beech log seat was dedicated in his memory.  The seat was gifted by the Clinton Devon Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust in recognition of the affection felt for David and his love of the Commons.  David was a leading member of the Branch, a passionate birdwatcher and naturalist with a wide knowledge of the Pebblebed Heathlands.  David is buried at Great Bradley Natural Burial Ground, Calverleigh Cross, Templeton, Nr Tiverton.David Jannaway

David Jannaway 1.7.1937 -  22.2.2015


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