July 2016–17 Archive from December 2016

Welcome to the December 2016 issue of The Harrier

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 1:35 am in Welcome

2016 was a very successful year for Devon Birds. We published the Devon Bird Atlas, the most important bird book for the county in almost 30 years (if you still haven't bought one, there are just a few copies left so don't wait). In March, a record number of members attended the AGM to hear Mark Avery's talk. We carried out a successful survey on the Fursdon Estate, organised by the Mid-Devon Branch. South Huish Marsh underwent vital management work and it's now better than ever. Birds included a Lammergeier and a Dalmatian Pelican, quite astonishing records. And we finish the year with the highest number of members ever. 

Welcome to the final issue of The Harrier for the year. And with very best wishes to all Devon Birds members for a happy Christmas and a great birding year in 2017.

Festive Bird of the Month

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 1:25 am in Bird of the Month

Devon's Christmas Robin on the Tarka Trail at Chivenor is showing well and carolling to all comers. Thanks to Rob Jutsum for posting the photo on the Sightings page.

Time to Renew

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 1:19 am in Member Benefits

It's that time of year again - your Devon Birds annual subscription is due on 1st January. The membership fee remains the same at £18 or, to look at it another way, just £1.50 a month. Your continued support is vital to help us continue running the reserves and supporting bird conservation work across the county. It also helps keep our admin costs and time to a minimum if you can pay promptly so we don't have to send out reminders.

If you haven't set up a Direct Debit, please can you pay online at: 


Alternatively, please can I encourage you to consider setting up a Direct Debit for future years - it really helps keep our costs and admin time down. We're a totally volunteer organisation and, like you, I'd much rather be birdwatching than chasing payments!

A form can be downloaded at:  www.devonbirds.org/membership The link is at the bottom of the web page. If you'd prefer I can send you a copy of the Direct Debit form to complete and return to me.

Thank you for your continued support. Have a great Christmas and an enlightening New Year.

Roger Little, Devon Birds Treasurer



Devon Birds AGM 2017

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 12:37 am in Events

The 2017 Devon Birds AGM will be held at the Exeter Court Hotel in Kennford EX6 7UX at 7pm on Wednesday 22 March. We're delighted to announce that the guest speaker will be Derek Gow. Derek has a farm in West Devon but he is best known for his ecological consultancy that specialises in ethical wildlife mitigation, breeding, reintroduction and translocation of protected British mammals, focusing specifically on the water vole.

Derek has bred thousands of water voles over the last ten years and he and his team have been at the forefront of reversing the decline of this charismatic small mammal. He is also involved in the Devon beaver reintroduction programme and the latest beavers to be reintroduced to the River Otter came from him. 

His latest project is a White Stork reintroduction that will shortly take place on the Knepp Estate in Sussex. He will tell us more about this on the night. How long before White Storks are back in Devon?

Derek will talk about the ethics and mechanics of bird and mammal reintroductions. But he will also highlight how even small mammals like water voles can restore ecosystems back to health and life and bring back lost species naturally. 

Derek is a charismatic speaker and his talk will be fascinating and challenging. An unmissable event.


Derek Gow and a beaver. Derek's on the left. 

Time to send in your 2016 records

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 12:32 am in Records

Julia Harris wants your records: "Bring a smile to my face," she writes, "Send in your records for 2016 as soon as possible. All records are required to be submitted by 31 January 2017 to ensure that they can be included in the 2016 Devon Bird Report. Any later than that and they will go into the database but they may miss inclusion in the Report. And don't worry about sorting your records into species order as they are all sorted in the database later - the order they are written in your notebook is fine. Forms and spreadsheets are on the website here: www.devonbirds.org/downloadable_forms along with a guide to submission but if you need help, please contact Julia on 01822 853785 or email "

Members should by now have received their copy of the Devon Bird Report 2015. It's another fine publication and I'm sure many of you are looking forward to sitting down over the Christmas break to read it, reliving all the birds you saw and the ones that got away.

Thanks to everyone who submitted records last year; without them, the Report would be much less comprehensive and less useful a publication. Special mention must go to Mike Lock for doing such a splendid job editing the Report, to Julia Harris for managing the vast database of tens of thousands of records, and all the section writers who bring the records to life. But it can't happen without the hundreds of Devon Birds members out all year round, in all weathers, birdwatching and recording. Thank you.

A Christmas Charm

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 12:22 am in Bird notes

George Harris writes: "Over the last few years we have been growing Verbena Bonariensis and it has been self-seeding around the garden. As you can see the from photo, at this time of year the Goldfinches love it and are even favouring it over the sunflower seeds in the garden feeders."

What's on in 2017

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 12:02 am in Events

Now's the time to plan your diary for next year. The full list of indoor meetings, field trips and annual events is now published on the website here: https://www.devonbirds.org/events towards the bottom of the page

You can visit the world from Australia to Austria, via Trinidad, Tobago and India. Come face to face with Grizzlies and marvel at the hummingbirds of Ecuador. And all without leaving the county. 

The field trips will take you all over Devon from Hartland in the north to Thurlestone in the south to Aylesbeare in the east and Dartmoor in the middle. 

It's an amazingly packed schedule with something happening almost every week of the year. It demonstrates just how vibrant, sociable and welcoming an organisation Devon Birds is. If you've never been to an event or joined a filed trip, make a resolution to come along in 2017. 

Do remember to keep checking the website - events are subject to change and unavoidable cancellation, so check before setting out: https://www.devonbirds.org/events

A Lizard Bird Diary

Posted December 20th, 2016 at 11:38 pm in Reviews

Brian Cave's new book is the work of the best part of a lifetime's birding on the South Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. It covers the period 1970-2015. It took Brian nine years to produce and it's clearly a labour of love. It's a 160 page paperback, beautifully produced with good photographs and clear graphs for many species. It will be of great interest to any Devon birders who venture over the Tamar in search of migrants and rarities. It's also the best place to see Cornwall's resident Choughs.

The South Lizard Peninsula covers 5.9kmand it contains a variety of habitats, including rugged sea cliffs and coves, heathland, marsh, pools, farmland and housing. It is the most southerly point of mainland Britain, one of the reasons it attracts a range of interesting passage migrants. But it also faces a number of threats, including increased disturbance from visitors.

There's a lovely painting of a Woodchat Shrike (Cornwall: rare migrant) on the cover - a nice visual pun. Shrikes could be called Lizard Birds given that the reptiles are a key prey item for the birds.

The book costs £25 and can be bought direct from Brian at alizardbird@yahoo.com 

A full review will appear in The Harrier or Devon Birds Journal next year.

Hot cakes

Posted December 20th, 2016 at 10:46 pm in Field Trip

If you haven't yet booked your place on the Lundy boat for next year, you'd better hurry up. Tickets are selling fast and numbers are restricted to 150. Every year we have quite a few disappointed members who leave it till the last minute and then miss out. Make sure that's not you...

You can be sure of a great day out. With guaranteed Puffins.

A good year at Godborough

Posted December 20th, 2016 at 10:32 pm in Reserves

Godborough is one of Devon Birds flagship reserves, set at the head of the Kenwith valley outside Bideford. This year the North Devon Branch, led by Philip Marlow, has carried out an enormous amount of conservation management work on the site. For a full report of everything that's happened on the site as well as plans for next year, take a look at Philip's report here: https://www.devonbirds.org/Godborough

If you'd like to volunteer to help on the reserve, please get in touch with Philip (pandgmarlow@btinternet.com) who would be delighted to hear from you. It's a great team and they are always looking for new recruits.


Tim Smith, Maurice Murch and John Towers erecting one of the new fences at Godborough

Older Posts →

← Newer Posts