Tel. 01626 834399
Linda Corkerton (summer events)
Tel. 01626 821966
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Bovey Tracey Local Group
Throughout the year this group arranges a series of indoor and outdoor activities that are open to all and are advertised in Devon Wildlife Trust's events leaflet and on the events webpage.
Bovey Tracey Local Group have organised a coach trip to Sir Peter Scott's Wildfowl and Wetland Centre at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire on Sunday 12 January, and would love for you to join them.
Winter is the period for which Slimbridge is really famous, as it offers great quality birds in very large numbers. Leaving Bovey at 10 am and return at around 7.30, the expected cost is £23.00, including coach and discounted entrance fee. For more details or to book contact Kevin Bunclark firstname.lastname@example.org
On Saturday 8th of February Bovey Tracey local group will once again be organising a fund raiser for Devon Wildlife Trust, at the Parish Church Rooms in Bovey Tracey. The Acoustic Café, which is a seated event, will offer a sumptuous two course meal and eight separate acts of singers and musicians, soloists and groups, playing throughout the evening. All the performers have kindly donated their time free of charge.
Only 50 tickets are available and always sell out fast, without the need to advertise. At only £10 each they are a real bargain. The last Acoustic Café raised over £500 for Devon Wildlife Trust.
Members and Friends of DWT have first option on the tickets, so if you would like to be one of the lucky few, please let me know as soon as possible: email@example.com
Previous talks and walks
The Peregrine Falcons of St. Michael’s Church, Exeter: an illustrated talk by Nick Dixon - Wednesday 13th November
There was an excellent turnout of in excess of 60 people to hear Nick’s fascinating insights into the lives of these extraordinary birds. We were treated to some wonderful photos of their behaviour and their amazing aerobatic skills. Nick has been studying them in detail since their arrival in 1988.Tales of picking through piles of the maggoty remains of birds that had been consumed by these raptors was not for the squeamish, but it did give us a clear picture of the detailed research undertaken over the last 15 years by Nick and his colleagues. They are incredibly skilful and successful hunters. Believe it or not they have recently been seen to take down young Buzzards flying into their territory. The good news is that the population of Peregrines in the UK is on the increase and within the context of this, the birds nesting in Exeter have successful reared nearly 50 young over the years. If you want to observe these birds for yourself (and I will be in the future) then go to the top of either Mary Arches or the Guildhall car park and train your binoculars on the church spire. Good luck!
Why do we care about animals?- Thursday 10 October
At our first indoor meeting of the winter, we looked at a different perspective of the animal world - animal welfare. This is a subject that interests us all, but how many of us ever wonder who were the pioneers and what motivated them? Dr Richard Ryder, a prominent animal welfare campaigner himself, was able to give us a detailed history describing attitudes towards animals, from the early times of Pythagoras and Buddhism, to the first UK legislation against animal cruelty in 1822. The Victorians saw further developments, and the battle continues today. It was fascinating to hear about the role played by so many determined reformers over the centuries, including prominent people such as William Wilberforce, George Bernard Shaw, Robbie Burns and Charles Darwin. The subject certainly caught the imagination of the audience, as the discussion following the presentation went on for some time!
Guided visit to Pengelly Caves - 14th September
Thirty keen DWT members were expertly guided around these fascinating caves and their surroundings by Sheila Phillips of the Pengelly Caves Trust. Their secluded aspect gives no indication of their tremendous significance - they are both Sites of Special Conservation and of Special Scientific Interest and are managed jointly with Devon Wildlife Trust. They are one of the most important sites for Greater Horseshoe bats in England - this species and other species that live there are supported by the conservation work of local Devon Bat Groups and DWT. (Photo, left: Hugh Clark).
Our tour included the history of the Saxon church, severely damaged by fire in 1992 as well as the legend and folklore surrounding the tomb of the Cabells which later became the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. As we walked, Sheila gradually revealed the geological history of the surrounding landscape that stretches back 350 million years and includes the formation of coral reefs in the warm shallow seas of the Devonian period. These reefs later became the thick beds of limestone of Buckfastleigh Hill and then in more recent times through erosion, the cave system as known to-day. Pengelly and other dedicated explorer geologists started mapping the caves on and off from the late 1700s but it was during the 1930s that the 4000 bones of the Joint Mitnor Cave were discovered by another committed band of geologists. These are the bones of animals of the warmest part of the last interglacial period of around 120,00 years ago and have given us a hugely important picture of environmental conditions at that time - very similar to those found on the plains of East Africa! The tour concluded with a visit to this cave and we were able to observe carefully excavated bones as well as examples of the geology so comprehensively explained to us by Sheila.
This was a very stimulating visit and Sheila, a volunteer is a fantastic guide. There is an interesting museum on-site that can be visited most weekends during the year when there are organised activities while the guided tours can be booked from April to mid September. For more information visit www.pengellytrust.org
Dragonflies of Chudleigh Knighton Heath - Saturday 27th July
Despite weeks of glorious sunshine the weather for our meeting with Dave Smallshire from the British Dragonfly Society was overcast, with even a few spots of rain which, I have to say, some of the five small ponds on Chudleigh Knighton Heath could well do with, and more! However, dragonflies require warmth in order to fire-up their flying muscles and so the nineteen of us found ourselves looking at damselflies, while their larger cousins sulked in the nearby vegetation. We saw the Common Blue, Azure, Emerald and Blue-tailed damselflies and Dave was adept at carefully catching these in order to instruct us as to their colouration, gender differences and lifestyles. Males are more in evidence and altogether flashier and they are chiefly interested in mating – a process which, for the Blue-tailed damselfly, can take up to six hours.
Whilst on Chudleigh Knighton Heath we also observed a range of other wildlife, including Bog Pimpernel, Marsh Pennywort and Sneezewort, but the most exciting aspect was a noisy aerial display by three Peregrine Falcons who were enjoying themselves chasing a flock of racing pigeons.
Dave then took nine of us on to Little Bradley Ponds, where there is a far larger expanse of water which is home to many water lilies and also the insectivorous Greater Bladderwort that fortunately prefers to feed on water fleas rather than dragonfly or damselfly larvae. Here again we were able to observe Common Blue, Azure and Blue-tailed damselflies, but I don’t recall the Emerald damselfly putting in an appearance this time. Butterflies were out and about, with the Green-veined White and Silver-washed Fritillary on display, and of the many birds in attendance I would pick out two Treecreepers for a special mention.
Snakes Alive – Saturday 29th June.
Led by Malcolm Billinge with Linda and Colin Corkerton, an enthusiastic band of just over twenty people of all ages met up by the entrance to Bovey Heathfield on a warm and sunny morning. After a short introduction, by Malcolm, to the origin and history of the Heath everyone split into three groups, each group being led to different parts of the Heath.
Linda’s group were dipping the ponds for creatures from the (not so) deep. To complement the beautiful damsel and dragon flies flying across the water we managed to locate in our nets a range of water beetles, damsel and dragonfly larvae, water boatmen, caddis fly larvae and assorted worms. We also saw palmate newts in profusion in the slightly acidic waters of the ponds.
Colin regularly checks for reptiles on the Heath and keeps a count for DWT, as a consequence he has an assortment of small felt and corrugated iron mats dotted across the heath. Under these we found both adder and grass snake together with slow worms.
Malcolm’s group crossed the road to another smaller section of the Heath reserve which he manages and monitors for DWT. Again in the warmth under tiles and sheets we found slow worms and as a bonus a small lizard basking in the sun on a wall.
Many thanks to our intrepid leaders for an excellent and informative morning.
Wild flowers walk - Tuesday 25th June
Over forty people of all ages came to the ‘Flowers of an Ancient Hedgerow’ meeting in Bovey Tracey on 25th June. This was a joint event with The Devonshire Association Botany Section. Frances Billinge led a short evening stroll along Marsh Path, by kind permission of Mr and Mrs Tebbit. Fifty-five species of common hedgerow plants were identified including Lamium album (White Dead-nettle), Geum urbanum (Wood Avens), Smymium olusatrum (Alexanders), Silene dioica (Red Campion), and Scrophularia nodosa (Common Figwort). The group were amazed to find so much growing in just a few hundred yards. The reconnoitre had found nearly a hundred species, but given the number of attendees and the hour’s length of the walk it was possible only to point out half of what was there - many said they would visit again later to try and identify the rest. The children who attended were most interested to find so much, and one of them won the competition that was held to see how many plants we would name on the night. We then looked at two gardens managed in contrasting ways for wildlife, and were kindly entertained to a cream tea by Sue Simmons and Roger Croot.
Buzzy Bees - Thursday 30th May
For those of you who have not visited Bovey Heathfield and are thinking of going, please don’t be put off by the journey through Heathfield Industrial Estate and the pot holed car park! The reserve is a true oasis, and on this bright windy morning the views of Dartmoor and its surrounds were stunning. Strolling over the heath, I saw stonechat, linnet, yellowhammer and whinchat (possibly) flitting from gorse bush to gorse bush. In addition to the bees we saw many plants and dragonflies, and all (for most of us) on our doorstep. We formed a group of 20, split fairly evenly between three generations ageing from 3 upwards! Linda Corkerton and Judy Cummings had devised a range of exercises which helped us all to better understand bees and the vital role they play in the natural world. There are about 250 species of bees in the UK and solitary bees make up over 220 of them. Through a range of games and exercises, we learned how bumble bees are classified (by colour), how they see differently (using UV light to sense where the food is), where they live (in holes, grasses/shrubs and trees, etc.) and what they feed on (pollen and nectar). We also learned how to make nests and how to encourage them into our gardens. Thanks to all who came along, young and not so young. It was a wholly rewarding morning.