Society News from April 2017

Flightless birding to Extremadura

Posted April 19th, 2017 at 1:35 pm by Kevin Cox

A talk by John O’Connell-Davidson, Devon Birds Plymouth Branch committee member at the Devon Birds Plymouth Branch Indoor meeting -  Monday 10th April 2017

John combines his love of travel with worldwide birdwatching and has visited many far-flung places in his search for species. Accompany John on a local bird watching trip and you will benefit from his expertise and ID knowledge and this skill was brought out in this engaging and informative presentation on birdwatching in Extremadura. The title of John’s presentation had nothing to do with some exotic non-flying species but referred to a cost effective and enjoyable trip which combined Plymouth to Santander ferry and car hire road trip down through Spain. John has kindly offered to give advice on travel and accommodation as well as birding hot-spots for iconic Iberian species of birds, insects and flora in this untouched and idyllic area of Spain.

Extremadura is located on a large flat plane and with varied habitat that has been shaped by an agrarian system that has been used for centuries and that allows for a harmonious relationship between farmer and wildlife. The bio-diversity is such that a rich and varied flora and fauna can exist and it is this ecology that is a key to the successful populations of resident, migrant and passing migrant birds. The management of the land with a more leisurely rotation of crops and livestock promotes the wild flowers, trees and insect life that in turn support the wide and flourishing bird populations. Even the towns and villages make homes for species such as Lesser Kestrel, Spotless Starling and Stork. The many lakes and reservoirs support warblers and water birds including Little, Great and Cattle Egrets, Purple Heron and even Whiskered Tern. Over the winter the many managed Oak groves that are an integral feature of the agrarian landscape support huge numbers of Crane which gorge themselves on the acorns before the find roosts at the local lakes.

John had visited Extremadura with his friend Peter whose photographs of many iconic species, such as Roller, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, and in the nearby Sierra Gredos Mountains Honey Buzzard, Goshawk and the sure-footed Ibex mountain goat featured in John’s presentation. The visit to the mountains also provided opportunities to see Alpine flora and to put one’s boots in the snow!

Information and advice about Extremadura is freely available both from the internet and in hardcopy from events such as Birdfair and help to make this area of Spain an easily accessible and rich resource for anyone who wishes to be immersed in a wildlife paradise.

John Lloyd

All photos by Peter Burkill


South Milton Reserve - track maintenance

Posted April 17th, 2017 at 11:17 pm by Kevin Cox

The track on the north side of the Reserve between the treatment plant and just short of the boardwalk is to be re-seeded with a grass mix that does not grow so rapidly or prolifically. Work is due to start in the week ending 23 April with an initial coarse harrowing of the track, followed a few weeks later by fine harrowing before the new seed mix is sown.  The track will remain open throughout the work so please feel free to continue using it.


Photo's for the Digital Devon Bird Atlas

Posted April 6th, 2017 at 9:09 am by Mike Langman

The digital Devon Bird Atlas is about to be launched and we need some new bird photographs preferable taken in Devon. Can you help?

This is the list of species required:

  • Whooper Swan
  • Bewick’s Swan
  • Eider (male & female or pair)
  • Velvet Scoter
  • Honey Buzzard
  • Marsh Harrier
  • Woodcock
  • Little Auk
  • Little Tern
  • Common Tern
  • Black Tern
  • Roseate Tern
  • Kittiwake
  • Little Gull
  • Feral Pigeon/Rock Dove
  • Short-eared Owl
  • Swift
  • Hoopoe
  • Wryneck
  • Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
  • Hobby
  • Golden Oriole
  • Red-backed Shrike
  • Chough
  • Willow Tit
  • Woodlark (adult)
  • Skylark
  • Swallow
  • Cetti’s Warbler
  • Bearded Tit
  • Garden Warbler
  • Lesser Whitethroat
  • Grasshopper Warbler
  • Starling
  • Nightingale
  • Tree Sparrow
  • White Wagtail
  • Water Pipit
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Lapland Bunting

Photographs (up to 2MB) for selection will be collected in a ‘Devon Atlas Digital’ dropbox folder (https://www.dropbox.com/).  

For an invite to submit material contact Mike Langman at mikelangman@blueyonder.co.uk.

Submission of any photo assumes that Devon Birds may use the image free of charge in any of their own publications, on the website or for Society publicity purposes, the copyright of course remains with the photographer.

It is essential that every photo submitted is file named to identify species, age (if applicable) location (unless a vunerable species in which please just mark as 'undiclosed site' or UdS), date and photographers initials some file names are restricted to 28 characters in which case they can be abbreviated  i.e. a Mediterranean Gull 2nd summer photo taken at Instow on 20 July 2012 by Jo Bloggs (please use your known Devon Birds initials if you have or know them) could be: MedGull2sInstw200712JBs.

We really look forward to seeing what you can offer.

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