Society News from November 2019

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 meeting at South Efford Marsh reserve. Friday 22 November 2019

Posted November 29th, 2019 at 4:52 pm in Plymouth Branch by Inga Page

Despite the forecast for poor weather conditions thirteen members met for this field meeting led by John Lloyd and were lucky that the rain came when the group had reached the hide! We listed 44 species. Stand out species included Kingfisher, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Black Tailed Godwit, Little Grebe, Snipe and good numbers of Curlew.

Species list:-

Robin, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Rook, Herring Gull, Wren, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Eurasian Pheasant,  Magpie, Chaffinch, Linnet, Greenfinch, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock, Moorhen, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Blackbird, Long Tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Cormorant, Great Black Backed Gull, Black Headed Gull, Jackdaw, Magpie, Collared Dove, Bullfinch, Jay, Teal, Wigeon, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Black Tailed Godwit, Mallard, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Little Grebe, Starling. [44] 

John Lloyd

Conserving Cranes and Curlew on the Somerset Levels

Posted November 18th, 2019 at 8:56 pm in Plymouth Branch by Inga Page

Talk by Richard Archer, Senior Conservation Officer RSPB South West at the Plymouth Branch AGM 11th. November, 2019

The Somerset Levels RSPB stewardship encompass thirty thousand hectares of land. With a big catchment and high rainfall it is a habitat largely shaped by man over a history going back before the Doomsday Book. Ancient husbandry produced a habitat that supported a wide range of flora, fauna and aviculture but over time changes to land management have taken toll on wildlife and, changes to agricultural practices, since WW II in particular, have seen rapid declines in many species of birdlife.

Richard Archer presented the case for carefully considered and scientific intervention following a baseline survey of key bird species in the mid-1970s. He clearly showed how sympathetic action has succeeded in bringing back numbers of breeding four key wader species; Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe as well as helping the Levels to be a significant area for Heron species and the reintroduction of a formerly extinct species – Common Crane.

Several key factors were outlined as crucial to breeding success of these species; hydrology, the careful management of water levels across the levels; grassland flora; livestock movement; and predation prevention measures. This of course required cooperation with farmers and landowners and an education and information programme as well as fund raising and lobbying of government agencies. The RSPB has worked hard to achieve success in these areas and continues to strive toward further improvement.

The reintroduction of Common Crane has become emblematic for conservation on the Levels and nationally, providing a powerful vehicle for promotion of conservation action across the area and making a national impact. The reintroduction process known as “The great Cranes project” started in 2000 when a search for a suitable site was started. The Levels was put forward as a good site with at least some historical claim to Crane populations. This combined with favourable habitat, existing RSPB infrastructure and proven management skills led to the Levels being nominated as a prime reintroduction site. The programme started with obtaining Common Crane eggs from Germany with officers from RSPB working closely with German ecologists and WWT staff at Slimbridge. Eggs were brought to Slimbridge at a defined stage of their natural incubation and were finally hatched and chicks reared in as near to natural conditions as possible before a their trip to the Levels. Here the 12 week old chicks were brought on and, ultimately, a “soft release” out into the wild Levels was made. In 2014 the first naturally born Crane chick was recorded marking a return to the Levels after 400 years absence for this iconic species.

Now, with a population of around 90 birds, the population is fast approaching sustainable status and it is now possible to see these majestic birds at several sites on the Levels. The Great Cranes Project is a real success story and a signpost to future conservation projects.

John Lloyd.

Annual Draw Winners 2019

Posted November 17th, 2019 at 9:37 am in Prize Winners by Mike Daniels

1st Prize - £200         J Churchley

2nd Prize - £75          I Taylor

3rd Prize - 2 Tickets to Lundy (any time)       S Edwards

4th Prize - 2 Tickets for Devon Birds Trip to Lundy 2020    M Phillips

5th Prize - Framed photo of a Great Skua     J Bosley

6th Prize - Framed photo of a Desert Wheatear     A Doulton

7th Prize - Framed photo of a Dunnock     N Rendle

Dartmoor Bird Report 2018

Posted November 13th, 2019 at 11:34 am in Publications by Shaw Edwards

The Dartmoor Bird Report 2018 is now available to download free of charge.

To get your copy, please go to the Dartmoor Bird Reports page.

You can also download reports from previous years.

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