Society News from May 2016

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


Cann Quarry Peregrines

Posted May 25th, 2016 at 10:29 pm

The Plym Peregrine Project is a long running conservation and engagement project located a short distance from Plymouth. Started in 2001, the project aims to protect a pair of breeding peregrine falcons in Plymbridge Woods from a fantastic vantage point that offers breathtaking views of the peregrines and the many other species in the woods.

There have been breeding peregrine falcons at Cann Quarry in Plymbridge Woods for at least 50 years. Since it started the project has seen 34 chicks successfully leave the nest, with some of the young being recorded at other locations raising chicks of their own. 

Volunteers are essential to the project and the protection of the birds. We have a friendly and passionate team but we always welcome new members and there are a number of spaces available this year.  Shifts are flexible and you can volunteer as much time as you choose. 

What’s involved:Peregrine by Steve Waterhouse

Monitoring a pair of breeding peregrine falcons

Being aware of any disturbances to the birds

Logging the activity of the birds

Engaging with a wide range of people

Handling telescopic equipment


A strong bird knowledge is not required as there will be a full introduction to the project, although there is plenty to see for those with keen bird knowledge The project is located a short walk from the National Trust car park at Plymbridge Woods. If you would like more information on the project, and how to get involved please get in touch with us on 01752 341377 or email David Houghton

Cuckoo Map Update

Posted May 21st, 2016 at 9:56 pm

We are still receiving a steady flow of Cuckoo records, by yesterday we had received a total of 463 records. You can view all this year's records on our live map.

Most sightings are from Dartmoor, but records have come in from across the whole county, with birds heard around Ilfracombe, Plymouth, Berry Head and Cullompton.
So wherever you are, keep your eyes peeled and ears open!

Thank you to everyone who has submitting their records so far. Keep reporting your Cuckoo sightings to our page, and remember to spread the word:

Lammergeier interviews from Barrie Whitehall & John Gale on Radio Devon

Posted May 18th, 2016 at 10:15 am

Immature Lammergeier – a first for the UK and of course Devon!

The bird was first seen at Sudbrook in Gwent on May 12 by Dale Kedward, from Caldicot who spotted the Lammergeier while walking his dog; a short video clip can be seen here.  It is probably the bird seen in Belgium on 9th May.  Josh Jones, from Bird Guides, said the signs indicated that the sighting was of a wild bird, possibly offspring from bearded vultures living in the Alps.

The Lammergeier in Gwent was seen to fly east, then circle and head west and a few days later was spotted over Dartmoor the first sighting may have been about 0930 - 0945 on Monday 16 when  a large bird of prey was seen to fly from Rippon Tor towards Cold East Cross / Ruddycleave Valley.

Meanwhile Barrie Whitehall was carrying out some bird recording on Dartmoor  and became aware of a large bird of prey at around 11:35am.  It was circling out over the Bala Brook (SX670634) and then the old Shipley Tramway north west of what is called on the OS the Avon Filtration Station.  It slowly drifted north east over Zeal Hill and Brent Moor on a track likely to take it over the road up to the Avon Dam. It was circling low scanning the ground and there are plenty of carcasses out there if it should chance to find one. Having seen many of these birds in 1979 in the Himalyas Barrie recognised it as an immature Lammergeier.

John Gale managed to see the bird later that day and both he and Barrie were interviewed on Radio Devon and their interesting conversations can be listened to by clicking on their names below.


John Gale


Barrie Whitehall


The Lammergeier feeds on dead animals and bones, and adults have a huge wingspan of up to 2.8m (9.2ft).

Latest News

Bird seen Fri 20th May 11.05 - 11.30 hrs, whilst undertaking some fieldwork, I recorded a / the bearded vulture soaring over Cookworthy Plantation, NW Devon. It was mobbed by two different buzzards before it finally went into a long, long glide due west towards Holsworthy.   Simon Geary

Plymouth Group visit Bennetts Cross to Challacombe

Posted May 13th, 2016 at 12:58 pm

In spite of foggy and wet conditions on May 12th, a dozen members met at Bennett’s Cross (or nearby for those who did not look at the programme closely!)   Paul led us down the valley and almost immediately our first Whinchat was spotted.  Several more were seen throughout the day including two handsome males.  The song of Willow Warbler accompanied us as we walked towards Soussons Wood and a Tree Pipit‘s displaying flight caught our sight. Good views of Reed Bunting were had appropriately in the “wet bit” at the bottom of the valley and Cuckoo were heard and then seen by all.  Soggy sandwiches were avoided by eating lunch under the conifers and a Goldcrest kept us company.  Half an hour later the sun came out, making finding a Garden Warbler and a Siskin easier.  Challacombe Farm provided a pleasant resting place for us to observe the hirundines flying overhead and soon a Spotted Flycatcher was found. 

I enjoyed this great day out with good company and nearly 40 different species of bird were seen or heard.

Lesley Goonesekera

South Devon Talk Mon 16 May

Posted May 9th, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Due to unforeseen circumstances there have been two changes to the programme.  Unfortunately the early morning Field Trip on 21st May to Venford on Dartmoor has had to be cancelled.

The talk next Monday 16th May has changed and will now be on “The Industrial History and Nesting birds of Druid Wood” given by Mike Goss and  Paul Heatley starting at 7.30pm at Court Farm Inn Abbotskerswell

We have a new member who lives in Dawlish and would appreciate a lift to meetings and is willing to meet somewhere convenient in  Dawlish or Teignmouth and happy to share expenses.  If you can help please either contact Mike Goss at the meeting or email Julia Harris

Field Trip Thurs 12 May Bennett's Cross - Challacombe

Posted May 9th, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Come and join the Plymouth Branch this Thursday, 12 May at 10.30am for a walk across Dartmoor to see moorland birds; starting at Bennett's Cross, near The Warren House Inn walking to Challacombe Farm and back.  See map for directions.
Possible birds of the area are Reed Bunting, Wheatear, Whinchat, Redstart, Cuckoo and Crossbill in the conifers, and also Spotted Flycatcher may have arrived at the farm.  Bring lunch; and walking boots are recommended.
For car share and information contact Liz Harris on 01752 789594.

Our Cuckoo Map

Posted May 1st, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Cuckoo sightings - 140 records so far!

Our Cuckoo sightings page is doing very well again this year, and over 100 records have already been submitted this spring.

Cuckoos have been seen and heard across Devon; in addition to the usual Dartmoor hotspots, records have been submitted from the coasts and Lundy.

Plenty of calling males have been recorded, and the first bubbling females have also been heard!

Keep looking out for Cuckoos this spring, and help us by recording your sightings on our live map:

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