Society News from May 2017

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 - Philip Marlow, African Game Parks are not just the Big 5

13th December - John Walters, the Secret Life of the Long-tailed Tit

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


Devon Birds Plymouth Branch Visit below Bennett’s Cross and onto Challacombe Farm, Dartmoor 18th May 2017

Posted May 28th, 2017 at 9:46 am


After three days of persistent heavy rain 13 members were pleased to be greeted by sunny weather at the start of the walk down to the valley. Meadow Pipit were plentiful and the first Cuckoo was soon heard and then glimpsed at a distance. As we dropped down Whinchat became abundant and great views were had of both females and males. Tree Pipit were also singing, parachuting and perching. Numerous Willow Warbler and Wren, with Blackbird, Robin and Chaffinch gave a busy sound track, as we walked along the valley floor.  In the same area a striking Reed Bunting showed itself well.

Photos by Dave Batten

By now we had seen at least 4 Cuckoos, definitely two males and probably two females. At the lunchstop Siskin appeared along with a flock of 21 Herring Gull on their way to somewhere. Just after lunch the highlight for many was the view of a male Crossbill, which although well camouflaged, was obligingly chilling out. At least two other Crossbill were seen nearby. Redstart were heard and a male was at last seen at a distance.

 The walk across to Challacombe added a few more Wheatear to our solitary one previously seen. The good weather was not to last and the heavens opened, hail included, though the nesting Swallows were not deterred. Our spirits were lifted by excellent views of a male Redstart and then a pair of Spotted Flycatcher, as we sheltered under the trees waiting for a slight lessening of the rain before we headed back.  The full list totalled 42 species.

Phil Stevens

Grey Heron



Herring Gull

Great Black-Backed Gull



Green Woodpecker [H]



House Martin

Tree Pipit

Meadow Pipit

Pied Wagtail

Grey Wagtail







Northern Wheatear


Song Thrush

Blackcap [H]

Willow Warbler



Spotted Flycatcher

Great Tit

Coal Tit





Carrion Crow

House Sparrow





Reed Bunting


Plymouth Branch, Dawn Chorus Walk, Saltram - Saturday, 13th May, 2017 04.30 hours

Posted May 14th, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Skylark at Chelston Meadow

A Skylark seen at Chelson Meadow on the Dawn Chorus walk  (photo: Bob Barrow)

A group of eleven attended this walk and were rewarded with a good selection of birdsong and some interesting sights including a buzzard being mobbed by Corvids, a Whitethroat singing and showing display flight and a male Chaffinch feeding its mate. Below is a list in order of hearing from 04.30 to 07.30 hours.

Robin; Skylark; Song Thrush; Carrion Crow; Blackbird; Wren; Pheasant, Blackcap; Chiffchaff; Wood Pigeon;; Goldcrest; Goldfinch; Chaffinch; Canada Goose; Whitethroat; Mistle Thrush, Dunnock, Nuthatch.

Also seen fledged Robins and along the river and overhead: Little Egret; Shelduck; Cormorant and Mallard.

John Lloyd

Mid-Devon Branch - Field Meeting at Fernworthy on May 2, 2017

Posted May 4th, 2017 at 11:18 am by Inga Page


Eleven members, including one new member, attended Fernworthy Field Meeting for a very productive and enjoyable day’s birding led by Roger Jewell.  Many thanks to him!

The weather was initially chilly and overcast but the sun came out later and we enjoyed its warmth.   42 different species were listed for the day, including  mistle thrush, linnet, willow warbler, garden warbler, crossbill, redstart, redpoll, tree pipit, whitethroat, marsh tit and a family of mallard plus all the other usual sightings of birds.  The highlight was a cuckoo heard somewhere above the north side of the reservoir followed shortly after by 2 calling cuckoos which flew across the reservoir from the northerly direction. A little later they reappeared on their return flight from the woods on the south side of the reservoir.   A good birding day was had by all and ended with a picnic lunch near the hide in the sunshine.

Annabelle Strickland, Mid Devon Co-ordinator

 Next meeting: Tues 16 May, Sludge Beds, Exeter (DWT) (due to Bridge Road works, the boat car park will have to be approached from the Countess Wear roundabout where there is plenty of parking)

Devon Birds Plymouth Branch - Trendlebeare Down and Yarner Wood Field Visit 24 April 2017

Posted May 1st, 2017 at 7:12 pm

The Plymouth Branch of Devon Birds chose to visit this area of ancient woodland, before bird identification is made harder with the wonderful mosaic of greens  enclosing the tree canopy. The reserve encompasses the East Dartmoor Woods and Heaths National Nature Reserve.

Twenty-nine of us gathered and we divided into three groups.  As we crossed the dry heathland, Yellowhammer, Stonechat and singing Willow Warbler were spotted as well as displaying Tree Pipit parachuting down to a tree. Just into the woodland an impressive male and female Redstart flitted into the glade from hollies under a row of birch trees adjacent to the Down. 

Further into the wood the numerous nest boxes had occupants of Blue Tits, Nuthatches and Pied Flycatchers. During the walk, at least four nest boxes showed Pied Flycatchers supplying nesting material. The song of these migrants was heard frequently from males posturing on the young rowan saplings nearby.  At least two geolocators have been retrieved this year from these birds as part of the research by Malcolm Burgess, linked with Exeter University. Malcolm will be showing the results of his project to Plymouth Branch in a talk 13th November on ‘Tracking Devon’s Birds’. 

All three woodpeckers were seen or heard, although the Lesser Spotted was only seen by one group and appeared to be less vocal, presumably nesting now. Returning Wood Warblers were sought and viewed high in the canopy by one group on the higher slopes of the woodland, where a Cuckoo was also heard beyond the woodland periphery. Other birds of interest included Sparrowhawk over the Down and Hobby found in the valley along with an elusive Blackcap, as well as Siskin and Bullfinch, which took advantage of the feeders near the hides. This gave a total of forty-one species identified.

Liz Harris

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