Society News from September 2018

Visit to Dawlish Warren on 16th September

Posted September 22nd, 2018 at 12:12 pm in Plymouth Branch Field Meeting by Inga Page

High tide at Dawlish Warren was at 11.20, so an early start was necessary.   Birders, who were awake early enough for the 9.am start, had an enjoyable morning.  Large flocks of Linnets and Goldfinch entertained us as we made our way to the hide.  The field had not been grazed so there were plenty of seed heads to provide food for them.   A flock of Long Tailed Tits were also seen regularly and the odd summer migrant such as a Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap and a couple of Swallows were found.

At the hide, there were good numbers of Oystercatcher, and Ringed Plover and some Godwit-both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed.  We had some expert tuition on the best way to identify them and also how to pick out the couple of Whimbrel.  Regular displays by Sandwich Terns were a delight to watch.  Expert eyes and a good scope were necessary to pick out other waders on the bank by the railway.  The Flying Scotsman was much easer to see!  Winter visitors are beginning to arrive and a flock of Widgeon were just visible. 

As we slowly returned to the cars, along the seaward path, 12+ Common Scoter flew past and 12+ Sanderling landed on the beach nearby and a Gannet was seen  fishing out to sea. 

Sanderling and Ringed Plover (Bob Barrows)

Oystercatchers (Bob Barrows)

Visiting Dawlish warren is always worthwhile. We saw over 40 different species in the various different habitats and had excellent views of most.   

Species seen – Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Common Scoter, Slavonian Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Shag, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kesterel, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Ring Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Sandwich Tern, Wood Pigeon, Meadow Pippit, Swallow, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Blackcap, Whitethroat Chiffcahff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker.

(52 species)

Lesley Goonesekera


The Dartmoor Moorland Birds Project

Posted September 20th, 2018 at 11:48 am in Plymouth Branch Indoor Meeting by Inga Page

Fiona explained the nature, scope and complexity of the Project. It became clear that managing this wide ranging project to benefit the declining population of Dartmoor moorland birds, with its many stakeholders, is a demanding and critical role.

The project relies on a large number of partners who Fiona has to keep informed and to negotiate a balanced approach to bird positive land management to maximise the potential of habitat for moorland species. This involves study and appreciation of habitat ecology and how soil, atmospheric conditions, land usage by livestock and geology all feed into this multi-faceted challenge. It is a complex problem with a nuanced, thoughtful  and smart solution needed to move forward.

Fiona explained how her role has a strong outreach element and the information is disseminated through presentations, website and leaflets. There are also many volunteers involved in surveys and observations adding to the plethora of data that the project is gathering. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact Fiona.   fiona.freshney@rspb.org.uk

The conservation of Ring Ouzel typifies the work of the project. A study of the bird behaviour, its preferred habitat ecology and the land usage through paid researchers, volunteers and stakeholder negotiation has shaped the approach to conservation techniques. Several sites have been identified and some habitat adaption has been made with some ringed birds showing fidelity to the site and limited success in breeding being witnessed.

The plight of breeding Curlew was also discussed and though there is evidence of one pair returning annually to a particular site their breeding success is very poor. It is thought that many factors have impinged on their breeding including the increasing disturbance from free roaming dogs. This situation is again typical of the problems facing moorland birds with increasing leisure usage of Dartmoor; another factor acting on what needs to be a pragmatic and realistic action plan for the preservation of iconic species of Dartmoor moorland birds.

John Lloyd     Devon Birds Plymouth Branch

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