Society News from June 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


Visit to Cann Woods on 12th June

Posted June 17th, 2019 at 5:46 pm in Plymouth Branch by Inga Page

Twenty members and friends of Devon Birds Plymouth Branch met at Cann Woods, Plympton, at 9:00pm, for our now annual Nightjar Walk. 

I, Chris Marcol, again acted as leader for our fourth year to this site, and as an introduction, gave a brief talk on the life history of the Nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus, and of my personal studies of the Cann Wood colony over the past 17 years, concluding that it has remained fairly stable over this period.

Being overcast the viewing conditions were slightly less than perfect, so given the recent fickle nature of our weather the group was fortunate in having a number of good sightings of these enigmatic birds.

Our first stop was in a location in the middle of the wood where one pair has been showing reliably over recent days.  After a short wait the first churring was heard from the edge of the clearing at around 9:40.  Once he stopped singing, there was a brief pause and then a single bird was spotted flying quickly close past the group.  With only a few catching a glimpse, the cry of “Nightjar” went up from a few.  It wasn’t however a Nightjar but a Cuckoo!  This was the cause of some slight amusement after I had declared in the introduction that, unusually, there were no Cuckoos in the wood this year!

Moving on to one of the ‘hotspots’ the group was treated to at least four more churring males, now accompanied by several flight views of both males and females in the last light of the day.

Due to the lateness of the hour, few other birds were seen, but several Tawny Owls, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Willow Warbler were all heard.  A few Pipistrelle bats hunting along the woodland edge were the sole mammalian sighting of the evening.

Chris Marcol

Trip to Challacombe Farm on 24 May 2019

Posted June 11th, 2019 at 4:33 pm in Plymouth Branch by Inga Page

Eighteen members of Devon Birds enjoyed a good day out organised by the Plymouth Branch. The weather started off a tad chilly but soon warmed up and although cloudy it remained dry and bright, though the sun failed to make an appearance.

 From the start of the route at Bennett’s Cross we walked downhill towards the old Birch Tor & Vitifer Mines. Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler were seen in the low woodland area after giving us fine renditions of their songs. A distant Whinchat was seen and good views were had through telescopes.  Further sightings of Whinchat were had later in the day. A few members heard a Curlew, though it was not seen.

 Several Cuckoo were seen and heard as we continued the walk. Reed Bunting and Redpoll were observed in the valley bottom. The walk continued to Soussons Wood. Here the path coincided with a small watercourse, providing good views of tadpoles. A fine sighting of a Green Woodpecker and a Red Kite signalled the need for a lunch stop. Goldcrest and Coal Tits entertained us as lunch was consumed. When everyone was fed up (well fed, not the other meaning) we continued the walk around Challacombe Down, where Small White and Green-Veined White butterflies were seen flying and a large hairy caterpillar of the Drinker Moth joined us on the path.  Swallows, Tree  Pipit and Linnet were amongst the birds seen in this area. A profusion of bluebells added great colour to the hillside here.

 Amongst the many birds seen at Challacombe Farm good views were had of Redstart, Tree Creeper and Mistle Thrush. A few members, who had joined us from the South Devon Group, enjoyed a good sighting of a Spotted Flycatcher.


Redstart - Dave Batten

Mistle Thrush - Dave Easter

We continued our walk northwards to Headland Warren Farm. On the way we passed a spectacular hillside of bluebells. Here a Small Heath and fritillary butterfly were seen (the latter probably a Small-Pearl Bordered Fritillary). A Cuckoo was heard calling whilst another one was seen low down.


Challacombe Down Bluebells - Roy Harris

A refreshment stop near Headland Warren was a welcome break, before we continued over the moors back to Birch Tor & Vitifer Mines. On the way back we saw an adult Fox Moth and heard more Cuckoo. The debate over the numbers of Cuckoo seen/heard during the day continues, but the concensus seems to be  3 or 4 individuals.

A total of 42 species of bird were seen and one curlew was heard calling, making 43 species recorded;

Skylark, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Blackbird, Meadow Pipit, Cuckoo, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Robin, Whinchat, Mallard, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Stonechat, Redpoll, Jay, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Red Kite, Green Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Swallow, Tree Pipit, Raven, Linnet, Jackdaw, Mistle Thrush, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Redstart, Blue Tit, Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff, Wren, Tree Creeper, Herring Gull, Dunnock.

Kevin & Jacki Solman


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