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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.
Our indoor events, which start on Tuesday 21st October, will be at a new venue, the Methodist Church in Bovey Tracey. The Methodist Church is on the corner of Le Mollay-Littry Way and Station Road, the car park is at the rear of the church and is approached from Le Mollay-Littry Way. The hall abuts the carpark, and the hall entrance faces the road.
Nearby reserves in the Bovey Tracey area are Bovey Heathfield, Chudleigh Knighton Heath, Little Bradley Ponds and Emworthy Mire. Practical workdays take place every Wednesday at one of these reserves, for more information click here.
Please take a moment to sign the petition to save our 'at risk' wildlife
The whales, dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks that live around our coast are some of the most spectacular - and at risk - wildlife. We are campaigning for 17 protected areas around England and Wales - our 'megafauna hotspots'. Pledging your support will help our campaign - please sign our e-action today. We'll take your signatures to the government in 2015 to call for action for our ocean giants.
Invitation to exhibit
Do you have a special wildlife photograph that you would like to share with the local group?
Taken by you, preferably (but not exclusively) in your back garden, or out and about in the UK? A rare bird, a giant slug, a spider munching on a fly or a mating hedgehog - you get the idea - something worthy of an 'ooh!' or an 'aah!' or even an 'urgh!'?
Then why not bring it along to one of our meetings and we will place it on the notice board for all to admire. If you like you can include your name, where and when it was taken and,
if necessary, what it is. No prizes, just the satisfaction of sharing your photographic genius with an admiring audience.
P.S. Don't forget to take your picture home at the end of the evening.
Walks and talks
John Walters, The Birds of Dartmoor - Tuesday 18th February - A report
This much anticipated talk did not disappoint. A full house packed into the hall to see John explore all the habitats of Dartmoor in search of the 270 different species of birds found in and around the park. John’s depth of knowledge combined with his attention to detail gave us a whole array of insights and images that will stay with us as we explore Dartmoor over the coming year.
The photographs were complemented by John’s wonderful paintings and sketches and he rounded the talk off with some amusing and insightful videos. From Cuckoos to Long Tailed Tits, from Ring Ouzels to Crossbills he gave both experts and beginners a window into their lives, their habits and their habitats. Who will forget the image of a Meadow Pipit perched on the back, feeding a baby Cuckoo three times its size? Who will forget the video of a row of 11 Long Tailed Tits perched like Bee Eaters on a branch roosting, each new entrant forcing their way into the middle for warmth? Oh and what about the Ring Ouzel who has adopted John’s back yard chasing away any Blackbird who dares to come near! What about the close ups of the many ground nesting birds with their exquisite eggs or ungainly, recently hatched chicks?
If you, like me, have walked the moors observing the birds but never seeing a nest, you marvel at the patience and knowledge that goes into getting such wonderful images. Thank you John for a memorable evening.
The natural History of Spiders. Tuesday 20th January - A report
Peter Smithers from Plymouth University provided another near capacity audience with an entertaining course of treatment for their arachnophobia.
Peter acknowledged that spiders rarely evoked feelings of great affection, but set out to show that they were both fascinating and useful. Indeed, “useful” seems rather an inadequate description of their role in preventing the surface of the earth being covered to a depth of several feet by aphids and other invertebrates.
A major factor in the magic woven by spiders is silk: stronger than steel, more elastic than rubber. Peter provided a detailed account of the structure and production of silk, including the news that a recent development of genetic engineering was the arrival of a goat that produced spider silk in its milk. Spiders themselves use silk not only for capturing their prey but for the ‘shells’ of their eggs, forming the walls of their varied homes and as a means of dispersal. The latter is akin to fling a kite, but a kite on which the spider then lifts into the air, to be carried any distance from a few feet to thousands of miles. Spiders have been found as the only animal life on newly formed volcanic islands. Peter showed some spectacular images of the remains of mass dispersal events, where the departure of untold numbers of spiders had left a gossamer blanket over the landscape.
It is probably quite well known that mating is a hazardous enterprise for the male spider, and Peter showed examples of how the males of different species attempted to avoid becoming their paramour’s lunch.
Home Farm Café meal and talk - Friday 9th January - a report
Otter Country - Tuesday 18th November - a report
Miriam Darlington loves otters – perhaps was an otter in another life and, if she has any choice in the matter, will probably be one again in the next. Her unbounded enthusiasm for this appealing mammal is infectious, and she soon had the near capacity audience captivated. Alternating personal anecdotes, hard scientific facts, references to books such as Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water, and readings from her own book, Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter, Miriam soon had us all keen to pop down to our nearest river and set up camp for the night in the desperate hope of seeing one of these magical creatures. She described how she has travelled the length and breadth of the country in pursuit of otters, has met numerous otter experts, and has helped (reluctantly) at the research facility in Cardiff which dissects and examines many of the otters killed on our roads. She described her passion as a fixation, but her humour and self deprecation kept her talk light and entertaining. Luckily for us, Devon has more otters (about 80) than any other county in the UK and, as Miriam pointed out, although when one goes in search of otters there is a great deal of time spent not seeing them, other fascinating natural wonders are often discovered along the way and, as she said, “It’s the unexpected things that bring the most joy.”
The colourful lives of Devon's marine animals - Tuesday 21st October - a report
Our first winter talk in the new venue at the Methodist Hall in Bovey Tracey went “swimmingly” well, with around 60 people present to hear Paul Naylor give us a fantastic tour of the wildlife occupying the rocks and sandy shores of our Devon coastline. If you think our local seas lack colour then think again. The variety and intensity of the creatures occupying our local seas, rock pools and beaches are easily a match for any tropical reef. With the aid of his own outstanding underwater photography Paul, a marine biologist with a passion for these habitats, gave us many fascinating insights into the lives of these creatures. From “Benny the Blenny” to limpets, muscles and crabs, their habits and behaviours were fascinating. The struggle for survival and the variety of their reproductive habits were more than a match for the script of any soap opera. Our thanks to Paul and all present who helped make our first meeting a great success.
Bees at Buckfast: a visit - Sunday 20 July
Clare Densley, the apiarist at Buckfast, first provided us all with refreshments, then went on to give a fascinating and informative talk about bees and beekeeping.
In 2010 the monks at the abbey decided that they did not wish to continue with commercial beekeeping, instead moving to an educational focus. Clare was pleased about this, as she is able to work much more in harmony with the bees. After a brief account of the evolutionary history of bees (they evolved from an ancestral wasp), Clare described their life history, including the three types: queen, worker and drone. Each worker bee carries out different roles during her lifetime, initially carrying out maintenance tasks within the hive, and only later going out on pollen and nectar collecting sorties.
then dressed ourselves in bee-proof suits and went off to watch a hive
in action. Clare dismantled a hive, explaining that she had chosen the
most pacific brood. We were able to see many of the features that Clare
had described, including seeing the resident queen and watching bees
hatching from their honeycomb cells.
It was a very rewarding afternoon, and particularly pleasing to witness Clare’s obvious love of bees in the way she spoke about them and, especially, her calm and gentle handling of them at the hive.