Report on Plymouth Branch Indoor Meeting 18 September 2023

Due to sickness our scheduled speaker, Emily Cuff, was not able to make this date. We hope that Emily will soon be feeling well and that she will be available to come and present to us about the progress of the Devon Pine Marten reintroduction project at a future event.

We were pleased welcome Graham Burton and Tony Utting our Devon Birds Chairman and Communications Officer respectively. They presented an update on the current Council and Executive Committee governance status in a period of change for our society.

Graham outlined challenges and solutions to the society, discussing projects such as ‘Swifts in Churches’ and ‘Pied Flycatcher tracking’, and also spoke about our reserves and hides which are currently under review for their fitness for purpose. He outlined some of the challenges such as health and safety and reserve maintenance and management and the possibility of forming partnerships with other wildlife organisations with greater experience and expertise in these areas.

Another aspect of the society’s work under scrutiny and development is the work of the County Recorder. With the retirement of the current officer there is a vacancy for this position but also the possibility to reorganise the methodology to a more systems based model. Tied to this is the development of a five year plan to monitor species that are declining and looking at year-on-year trends and causes, thus working toward a strategy for supporting these species.

Tony outlined the organisation of the Council and the Executive Committee illustrating the functions of the various roles held by committee members. He also pointed out that there are several roles vacant and that he would welcome any volunteers to fill these posts which included the post of Treasurer.

The second part of our evening was a fascinating presentation by our committee member John O’Connell-Davidson, who at very short notice, volunteered to talk about his experiences of birding in the Falkland Islands. He talked about the history and geography of the archipelago and how this affected the wildlife there and showed us how he was able to island hop by aircraft to several locations and witness the many species of Penguin, Petrels, Skuas, Gulls and raptors that take advantage of the Penguin colonies. Also, passerines such as the Cobb’s Wren and Falkland Thrush were ably illustrated with great photographs taken by John using a trusty bridge camera. As John pointed out the wildlife there is very confiding as they don’t see many humans and are easily approached and clearly not camera shy! Who wouldn’t want to sit shoulder to shoulder with a Black-browed Albatross?!

John Lloyd (Treasurer Plymouth Branch Devon Birds)

Photographs by John O’Connell-Davidson

Black-browed Albatross
King Penguin
King Penguins and Juveniles