July 2016–17 Archive from June 2017

Welcome to the June issue of The Harrier

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 11:50 pm in Welcome

A Linnet, Yellowhammer, Redpoll and Stonechat all captured in one tree by Adrian Davey at Yarner on 24th June - four species in one tree. How often does that happen?

The breeding season is all but over except for our late arrivals such as Spotted Flycatcher and Nightjar. But there are still wonders to be seen such as this rare occurrence captured in Adrian Davey's photograph. I hope Adrian submits his photo to the Devon Birds Photographer of the Year Competition - full details below and on the website.

And if you haven't seen a Nightjar yet this year, now's your chance. Join fellow Devon birders on one of a couple of visits coming up over the next week, either at Bovey Heathfield or Haldon Forest. Full details are in this issue of The Harrier.

Kevin Cox, Chairman


Dartmoor House Martin Project 2017

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 11:35 pm in Conservation

Our House Martins are in trouble. Across Devon they have declined by 50 per cent in range and possibly more in abundance. The reasons for this drop in numbers isn't clearly understood but it's likely to be caused in part by a reduction in their insect prey as we have lost most of our flower-rich meadows. The long migration from Africa is becoming tougher as are changes to wintering grounds. And finally, there are still people who knock the nests off their houses because of the small amount of mess that the birds create.

We want people to love their House Martins and to take pride in having them share our homes with us.

This year, we are organising three events to promote an understanding of House Martins across Dartmoor. Naturalist John Walters will give a series of talks about the ecology of the birds and suggest ways to encourage them to take up residence on our houses. We will also be giving away 10 artificial nest boxes at each event, worth £21.95, funded by The People's Postcode Lottery.

The events will take place on:

6 July at 7.30pm in Princetown at the High Moorland Visitors' Centre (see poster below).

13 July at 8pm in Yelverton at the Village Hall.

14 July at 7.30pm in Ashburton at the Town Hall. 

All are welcome. Please spread the word - our House Martins need us. We are currently updating the Dartmoor House Martin Project website but it will be possible to record all your HM sightings very soon.


Calling all photographers

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 11:13 pm in Photo Competition

A reminder to all photographers that Kate de la Haye has sent the following request:

I work for Natural England and we're trying to put together a poster and video to raise awareness about Plymouth's marine protected areas. The Special Protection Area that covers the Tamar features avocets and the little egret.

I'm trying to source site-specific photos or video of these birds. Would any of Devon Birds members be able to help?

We have a small budget to produce the video and poster, so could pay a small amount for any suitable images and include a credit, but it would be for educational purposes, so we're unable to pay commercial rates.

I have a bit of a tight deadline and would need to get any photos or footage by the end of June.

I'd be very grateful if you could help in any way. My email address is kate.delahaye@naturalengland.org.uk

Many thanks

Kate, Lead Adviser, Marine Visualisation Project, Natural England

Also, remember that the Devon Birds Photographer of the Year 2017 Competition is now open for entries: https://www.devonbirds.org/gallery/competition_2017_entry

We are lucky to have recruited a prestigious group of judges for the competition: Sophie Stafford, former editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine and a judge of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition; Stephen Moss, well-known broadcaster and writer; Mike Dilger, star of The One Show and author.



Willow Tit Survey Results 2017

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 10:55 pm in Surveys

Thank you to everyone who took part in this year's Willow Tit survey. Below are the results that show another 7 records in the surveyed tetrads. Whilst this is good news, it confirms that this species has still declined markedly over the past thirty years, disappearing from over 170 tetrads across the county during that time. The next steps are to work with Devon Wildlife Trust to implement a conservation plan for the species. (Click on the pages to read them.)

 

 


Nightjars

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 10:19 pm in Surveys

Steve Hopper's photo of a Nightjar captures its magic in flight

Nightjars are birds of dusk and dark. Cryptic by day when they are almost impossible to see hidden on the ground amongst heather and bark; mysterious by night when their churring call can carry for miles across heath and moor. For many of us, seeing a Nightjar is a magical moment and rarely forgotten. 

If you'd like to see and hear a Nightjar, now's the best time.

On 1 July, Brent Birders are visiting Bovey Heathfield Nature Reserve on a Nightjar walk. Meet at 21.15 by the Reserve entrance in Dragon Close (end of Cavalier road on the Heathfield Industrial Estate) SX 82422 76530.  Please bring a torch and insect repellent would be a wise precaution. The meeting will last around 1½ hours.  Contact Mike Goss on 01364 72539.

On 5 July, we will be surveying for Nightjars in Haldon Forest. We will visit the sites that were part of the bird survey at Haldon, in particular the restored heathland and felled forest areas. Meet in the car park at Haldon Forest - SX 88390 84646 - at 20.30. Please bring a torch, cover up against insects and bring repellant. We will aim to finish at 22.30. Please contact Peter Devonport if you would like more details: Peter.Devenport@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

 

Haldon Forest & SSSI Plan

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 9:02 pm in News

The Devon Birds survey of Haldon Forest has now finished for the year and results are being collated. 

In the meantime, members are asked to comment on a new management plan for Haldon. It is hoped that the results of the survey will inform the new Plan.

Details are in the email below:

As part of an ongoing programme of plan renewal, the Forest and SSSI Plan covering the forests around Haldon has been reviewed.  The Plan defines the long term vision for the collection of woodlands and sets out proposals for how management will move towards achieving this vision over the forthcoming decades.

The Plan area falls within the parishes Ashcombe, Ashton, Bishopsteignton, Chudleigh, Dunchideock, Holcombe Burnell, Ideford, Ilsington, Kenn, Kenton, Mamhead, Powderham and Starcross in Devon. We welcome your comments on our plans for the future. Proposals can be viewed and feedback can be left online at:

https://englandconsult.forestry.gov.uk/forest-districts/haldon-forest-and-sssi-plan

Members of the public are invited to comment on the draft proposals until 30th July 2017. If you require further information I can be contacted at the details below.

Ben Robinson MICFor

Planning Forester

ben.robinson@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

0300 067 4834

 


Exeter's Peregrines

Posted June 28th, 2017 at 8:22 pm in Bird notes

The Peregrines on St Michael and All Angels Church in Exeter have successfully raised two young this year.

Visit the website here for more information: www.stmichaelsmountdinham.org.uk/peregrine-falcons/

It says "After lots of wing practice in the first 2 weeks of June, the 2 female juveniles fledged on 14 & 20 June. The male adult quite often sits in the trefoil opening, and the juveniles may re-visit the nest box once they are confident flyers or the weather is bad."


Welcome to the May/June issue of The Harrier

Posted June 16th, 2017 at 11:45 pm in Welcome

Greg Bradbury captured this shot of a male Redstart against a backdrop of flowering hawthorn at Emsworthy Mire at the end of May.

The breeding season was rather delayed this year by a cold snap in May that held up a lot of our migrants. This issue of The Harrier is behind schedule as well but I can't use the excuse of the weather. Like many of you, I've been out and about a lot over the spring busy with nest boxes, surveys at Carswell Farm and Haldon Forest and just looking at birds.

The most important announcement in this issue is the launch of the Devon Birds Photography Competition 2017. But there are plenty of other stories too. Enjoy the early summer while there are still plenty of birds breeding and showing well.

Kevin Cox, Chairman


Calling all photographers

Posted June 11th, 2017 at 12:14 am in Photo Competition

 

We are pleased to announce the first Devon Birds Photographer of the Year Competition. We are looking for the best photographs of birds taken anywhere in Devon. There are a number of different categories and the winners of each will go forward for the best to be chosen as the Devon Birds Photo of the Year 2017. All the winning entries will be included in an exhibition to be held at Torre Abbey in Torquay this coming October.

For more details of the competition and how to enter, visit the website: www.devonbirds.org/gallery/competition_2017_entry


More photos needed...

Posted June 11th, 2017 at 12:13 am in Help wanted

Kate de la Haye has sent the following request:

I work for Natural England and we're trying to put together a poster and video to raise awareness about Plymouth's marine protected areas. The Special Protection Area that covers the Tamar features avocets and the little egret.

I'm trying to source site-specific photos or video of these birds. Would any of Devon Birds members be able to help?

We have a small budget to produce the video and poster, so could pay a small amount for any suitable images and include a credit, but it would be for educational purposes, so we're unable to pay commercial rates.

I have a bit of a tight deadline and would need to get any photos or footage by the end of June.

I'd be very grateful if you could help in any way. My email address is kate.delahaye@naturalengland.org.uk

Many thanks

Kate

Lead Adviser, Marine Visualisation Project, Natural England


Photo of the Month

Posted June 11th, 2017 at 12:02 am in Photo of the Month

Steve Hopper's photo of two Red Kites shows just how good they are at aerial acrobatics. This was taken at South Brent on 25 May where they stayed around for most of the afternoon.

 


The breeding season so far

Posted June 10th, 2017 at 3:15 pm in Conservation

Devon Birds has once again co-funded a number of important research projects in Devon for some of our most threatened species. Dr Malcolm Burgess, Senior Conservation Scientist at RSPB is heading up these projects. Here is his latest field update at the end of May:

"Spotted Flycatcher - A great week with several more loggered birds located. We are now up to 7 for definite and possibly 8 (need another look at the birds legs to confirm the colour). We haven't actually visited all the sites yet either! And the first of these located birds (a female) was captured and the tag retrieved fine. So that must be the first ever Spotted Flycatcher track anywhere as far as I know of! We have very high site fidelity as all have been found in exactly the same spots as where they were captured. We also have a similar number of control birds (the pair of the tagged pair member), and several sites have seen both the same male and female back. Irene, the field assistant, has been successfully finding the nests of these pairs and we have some on eggs now.

Wood Warbler - We have 16 nests found, mostly incubating eggs and just one with chicks. We are still finding males singing in new places for the season but they are nearly always unringed. To date we have only had 10 per cent of last year's males back (the project average is 17%), and 5% of last year's young (which is more in line with the average). We have captured 31 unringed males so far, and colour marked these. Over the next week we are putting extra effort into searching less visited or unvisited (by us) Dartmoor woodlands in the hope of finding some more.

Pied Flycatcher - Another quiet week but ringing and weighing nestlings has now started. We have also started catching all the males. Our 80 geolocators arrive tomorrow and we will be deploying them as fast as possible from Thursday. It will be all hands on deck to achieve this, and yesterday Sophie Fergusson joined the team for two weeks. Sophie is PiedFly.Net funded and has worked for several years on the project (and on Wood Warblers for RSPB in 2014) and is a licensed tagger. Most nests have hatched and the first fledge at the weekend."


Spotted Flycatchers in God's Acre

Posted June 10th, 2017 at 3:00 pm in Conservation

Colin Randall writes: Devon Birds is working with churches across Devon to install nest boxes for Spotted Flycatchers. If managed well, with plenty of long grass, wildflowers, trees and insects, churchyards are perfect places for Spot Flys.

The Spotted Flycatcher nest-box scheme has been welcomed with a great deal of enthusiasm although the number of boxes issued totals only four this year.  By wonderful coincidence, it happened that the Anglican Diocese of Exeter was holding a conference on Living Churchyards, so as a Devon Birds Council Member, I was asked to speak at it. About a couple of dozen people, from churches with suitable churchyards from all over Devon, signed up asking for a box. Sadly, we only had four at that point, all of which are now up in various locations. That willingness to give it a try is very commendable, and bodes well for next year.

If you would like to donate a suitable nest box to the scheme for next year - or you have the time to make some, please get in touch with me: colin.randall@outlook.com

A Spot Fly box in a tree in St Budeaux Parish Church...

...and another in the churchyard in Okehampton


Exeter's famous Peregrines

Posted June 10th, 2017 at 2:11 pm in Bird notes

The Peregrines nesting on St Michael and All Angels, Mount Dinham, Exeter are almost ready to fledge. Take a look at the webcam to see how well they are doing here: https://www.devonbirds.org/news/peregrine_falcons_webcam

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