Thursday, 26 May 2016

Beavers released at secret East Devon location

England's only breeding wild population of beavers has grown thanks to the release of two further animals at a secret location in East Devon. One adult female and one adult male beaver were released on Monday evening on private land close to the River Otter. The release was sanctioned by Natural England and was made by Devon Wildlife Trust as part of the River Otter Beaver Trial - a five year project being led by the charity which is studying the impact of England's only wild beaver population.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Peter Burgess was overseeing the operation and explained why the release of more beavers was made:
"There are already 12 beavers known to be living on the River Otter. Our DNA analysis has shown that these animals are closely related to one another. The genetic diversity of the beavers needed to be increased to ensure that we have a healthy population. So tonight's release was a crucial and exciting next step in the story of reintroducing this keystone species back to the wild, restoring our river catchments. We're very happy with how it went."
Peter continued:
"This pair of beavers may move down river to mix and then breed with the existing population very soon, or they may decide to stay-put, pair up and breed. Then it will be their offspring which mix and mate with the other beavers. Either way the outcome will be the same; the genetic diversity of beavers living wild in East Devon will have been enriched. That is our goal."

The female beaver of the pair was sourced from Devon Wildlife Trust's own captive beaver trial near Okehampton. The three year old was described as being in 'good health and ready to start a new family' by Devon Wildlife Trust. The male is of a similar age and was sourced from a captive breeding programme based in Devon run by renowned beaver expert, Derek Gow.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Peter Burgess said:
"This release site is the best we looked at. It's quiet and undisturbed. The ponds are perfect, while they are just a stone's throw from the river. I want to thank the landowner, a local family who have allowed us to use their land. Without their help this couldn't have happened. We've deliberately not revealed the exact location of the site because we want the beavers to be left undisturbed while they get used to their new surroundings."

Devon Wildlife Trust plans to monitor the progress of the beavers over the coming weeks. Their new home has been equipped with cameras, allowing the charity to get vital insights into beaver behaviour.
Peter Burgess said:
"We will have very privileged access to the secret world of beavers. These are animals that are active only in the evenings, at night and in the early mornings. They are also naturally shy and often difficult to see. The cameras will give us the chance to learn so much about how beavers behave and their impact on the local landscape - this is one of the main objectives of the River Otter Beaver Trial. It will be fascinating to see how this story develops."

People can follow the progress of the beavers and see video footage of their release at the Devon Wildlife Trust website 

The River Otter Beaver Trial receives no government funding and it is estimated that it will cost the charity more than £500,000 over five years. People can help the project by donating to 

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) is a large herbivore, a mammal that was formerly native to these shores and once played an important part in our landscape from prehistoric times until it was hunted to extinction in the 16th century for its fur, meat and scent glands. The loss of this charismatic species also led to loss of the mosaic of lakes, meres, mires, tarns and boggy places that it so brilliantly built. The beaver is a 'keystone' species and its absence has had a profound impact on the ecology of our rivers. There are few species which have such significant and positive influences on ecosystem health and function. For example, their reintroduction can help with: 
  • Alleviation of downstream flooding - the channels, dams and wetland habitats that beavers create hold back water and release it more slowly in periods of heavy rain. 
  • Increased water retention - by storing water and greatly enhancing the absorption capacity of the wider landscape, beaver activity also helps to sustain flows during periods of low water. 
  • Water purification - beaver-generated landscapes have been linked to the significant amelioration of diffuse pollution from human activities. Beavers have been specifically introduced into some river systems in Europe and North America to combat environmental degradation and pollution. 
  • Reduced siltation - dams trap silt, helping to reduce turbidity and sedimentation of water courses, reservoirs and lakes. 
  • Ecotourism - where beavers have been reintroduced on mainland Europe, there is substantial evidence of revenue and employment generation from ecotourism. The most appropriate sites for initial reintroduction can often be in more remote areas where alternative forms of livelihood from traditional land uses are in decline. 

Devon Wildlife Trust's Peter Burgess and University of Exeter's Prof Richard Brazier carrying one the female beaver to the secret East Devon release site Photo copyright
Nick Upton/ (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust
 Female Beaver taking first steps - Photo copyright Nick Upton/ (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust
 Female Beaver entering the water - Photo copyright Nick Upton/ (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust
 Female Beaver taking a swim in her new home - Photo copyright Nick Upton/ (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust
Male Beaver prior to release - Photo copyright Nick Upton/ (All rights reserved)
People can help the project by donating to

The River Otter Beaver Trial The River Otter Beaver Trial is led by Devon Wildlife Trust, working in partnership with the University of Exeter, Clinton Devon Estates and the Derek Gow Consultancy. Expert independent advice is also provided by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (Roisin Campbell-Palmer and Simon Girling), Professor John Gurnell and Gerhard Schwab, an expert on beaver re-introduction based in Bavaria.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

#30DaysWild. Nature connection at the heart of a happy and healthy life

Results of UK's first month-long nature challenge published as 2016 campaign launches in Devon

People who do something 'wild' every day for a month change their attitude to nature and report improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing, according to new research which places nature connection at the heart of a happy and healthy life.

An impact study, by the University of Derby, of 30 Days Wild - the UK's first ever month-long nature challenge, run by The Wildlife Trusts in June 2015 - reveals sustained increases in participants' happiness, health, connection to nature and positive environmental behaviours, such as feeding the birds or growing flowers for pollinators like bees.

Dr Miles Richardson, Head of Psychology at the University of Derby, conducted the study.
 He says:
"Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, the number of people reporting their health as excellent increased by over 30%. And that improvement in health was influenced by the improvements in happiness and connection with nature."

The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our everyday lives. Our grand challenges, such as health and declining biodiversity, require large-scale interventions and the evaluation of 30 Days Wild provides good evidence that time in, and a connection with nature can bring sustained benefits to public health, reducing demands on our health services, while also improving pro-nature behaviours. Even in urban areas, nature can provide a simple solution to complex problems."

More than 18,500 people took part in The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild challenge, committing around 300,000 Random Acts of Wildness - different ways to connect with, experience and take action for nature - throughout June 2015.

Steve Hussey, from Devon Wildlife Trust, said:
"Last year, thousands of people undertook Random Acts of Wildness across our region, from the centre of Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly. People let their lawns grow wild, adults danced in the rain and went on wild picnics, while families created natural artworks, went star-gazing and created homes for wildlife in their gardens. Even people at work found time for wildlife, by taking meetings outside in the sun and transforming work spaces into wildlife habitats.
"The results of our study show that taking part in 30 Days Wild makes people happier, healthier and more connected to nature in the long-term.
"Importantly it also showed that by looking out for nature on a regular basis people became more likely to care about and protect it - and that's what we're all about. We're here to inspire everyone again - every day throughout June. Whatever their age, wherever they live, we want everyone to feel they can take part and join thousands of others making nature part of their life."

30 Days Wild returns in 2016, Devon Wildlife Trust is asking everyone to do something wild every day from 1 - 30 June. Whether you take time out to simply smell a wildflower, listen to birdsong, explore a local wild place or leave a part of your garden to grow wild for a month. This year, the conservation charity aims to inspire people to carry out one million Random Acts of Wildness, listing 101 fun and intriguing ideas online to get you started. It's all about making nature part of your life for 30 days - and it's free.

Steve Hussey added: 
"Hundreds of people have already signed up to this year's 30 Days Wild but the message is there's still time to do so at We're delighted that BBC Radio Devon is once again backing the campaign and broadcasting a suggested Random Act of Wildness every day of the month on its David Fitzgerald Show and other programmes. This year we're also calling on people to share their experiences of 30 Days Wild with us on twitter, Instagram and facebook using #30DaysWild and twitter handle @DevonWildlife."

Devon Wildlife Trust is kicking off its 30 Days Wild with a special event at its Cricklepit Mill base in the heart of Exeter during half term week on Wednesday 1 June. DWT's Steve Hussey said: 
 "Our Fun Day is the perfect way to start your 30 Days Wild. The event is free and people can drop in any time between 10am and 3pm. We will be challenging visitors to complete 10 Random Acts of Wildness in one day! From bug hunting in our meadow and creating wild art to making a bird feeder and scribbling a poem - it promises to be a wild beginning to June." Cricklepit Mill is a short walk from Exeter's historic Quayside and can be found next to the Bishop Blaize pub, EX2 4AB. For more details on this event visit 

#30DaysWild - Lewis Hussey, age 12, Exeter. Photo taken at Exmouth Beach copyright Kathryn Edwards (All rights reserved)
#30DaysWild - Imogen Hussey, aged 16, balances on tree trunk Photo taken at Haldon Hill copyright Kathryn Edwards (All rights reserved)
Share your 30 Days Wild experience  on twitter, Instagram and facebook using 
#30DaysWild and twitter handle @DevonWildlife

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Name that beaver!

A Devon-based conservation charity is looking for help from the public to suggest names for its new beaver mascot.

The beaver in question is a human-sized beaver costume made to promote the work of Devon Wildlife Trust with England's only known wild beaver population on the River Otter in East Devon. The costume, which has striking teeth and tail has been produced with support from South Devon-based Cofton Country Holidays, which is itself a David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme Gold award winner.

Speaking for Devon Wildlife Trust Steve Hussey said:
"We wanted a beaver mascot to help us raise the profile of the River Otter Beaver Trial and its vital work. When Cofton Country Holidays generously stepped in to help us we were delighted." "We hope that lots of people will get to see the mascot and learn about the project. His/her first outing was at this year's County Show, after that he/she will be seen around the county at events."

"We're really pleased with the mascot costume and have a number of staff, volunteers and helpers from Cofton Country Holidays who have said they are happy to wear it. Now all that is lacking is a name. That's why we're now asking the public to help us name that beaver!"

Mellony Kirby, Director at Cofton Country Holidays commented:
"Conservation is very close to our hearts. We work hard to provide guests with a rich environment in which to observe wildlife here at Cofton. Over the years Devon Wildlife Trust has advised us on our nature trails, which take visitors through parkland and woodland to Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, and so for us the opportunity to raise the profile of the Trust's work to encourage a wild beaver population on the River Otter seemed too good an opportunity to miss. 
"We're looking forward to hosting the River Otter beaver mascot throughout the spring and summer when Devon Wildlife Trust will be joining us here at Cofton for pond dipping days, giving kids the chance to discovering wildlife in the water alongside supervised activities." 

The beaver mascot's first appearance was at this year's Devon County Show. People who want to suggest a beaver name can do so by visiting the Devon Wildlife Trust stand. Devon Wildlife Trust is also inviting people get in touch via Twitter using @DevonWildlife with their beaver name suggestions. 
Steve Hussey said: 
"We're looking for an imaginative beaver name. After the recent Boaty McBoatface debacle we've chosen not to run this name selection as a vote. Instead we are reserving the right to choose the winner and it won't be Beaver McBeaverface or anything that doesn't represent the correct tone for our work for wildlife!" 
The beaver outfit being modelled at Cofton Country Holidays
Mellony Kirby - director of Cofton Country Holidays, the River Otter Beaver Trial mascot, Helen Scott - director of Cofton Country Holidays, and Mike Elsey, Corporate Support Officer for Devon Wildlife Trust.
 Mellony Kirby, director of Cofton Country Holidays, the River Otter Beaver Trial mascot, Helen Scott, director of Cofton Country Holidays, and Mike Elsey, Corporate Support Officer for Devon Wildlife Trust.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Community Event to collect North Devon Glove Maker’s Stories for Short Film Series

The Burton Art Gallery & Museum will be hosting a free event to collect stories about the glove industry in north Devon for a new series of short films. Glove Stories is the latest project from community film makers North Devon Moving Image to collect and preserve valuable first hand accounts of life in north Devon.

Gloving was an important industry for centuries with factories in Appledore, Bideford, Great Torrington and Pilton in Barnstaple as well being a source of income for many home workers. The industry came to an end in 2006 when the last factory closed its doors for the final time.

Terry Priscott a former glove worker who runs the The North Devon Glove Industry History Page on Facebook says
"It was once North Devon's biggest employer. If you are local to the area, particularly Great Torrington, it is highly likely that some of your ancestors worked in the glove industry! Gloving is an important part of north Devon's heritage but there are currently no books or other information available on it."

NDMI's Glove Stories project aims to set this right by recording personal reminiscences from those who were associated with north Devon's glove industry and use them to produce a series of short films. The films will be free to watch via NDMI's website and at The Burton Art Gallery & Museum. There will also be a screeening of the series at White Moose Gallery in Barnstaple to complement the Hand to Hand exhibition by local artist Sue on 14 July. 

Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of North Devon Moving Image says 
"We are inviting people to come along to the Burton on Saturday 2 July to share their Glove Stories either by interview on camera or by writing anecdotes on our Glove Stories memory cards. It would be great to see some old photographs and artefacts too." 

History of Glovemaking in North Devon - Images recorded at Great Torrington Museum

History of Glovemaking in North Devon - Images recorded at Great Torrington Museum

 Photos show images recorded at Great Torrington Museum. 

The event runs to coincide with Bideford Heritage Day on Saturday 2 July from 10am to 4pm  at The Burton Art Gallery and Museum Kingsley Road,  Bideford, Devon EX39 2QQ.
For more information or to offer help volunteering on the day please contact Amanda McCormack on 01271 860610 or email
This community project has been made possible with funding from The Bideford Bridge Trust and Torridge Councillor Peter Christie.  

Monday, 16 May 2016

Orchestra goes wild for charity

A Devon-based orchestra has left its usual habitat of rehearsal studios and concert halls behind to take part in a very different kind of photoshoot promoting its latest concert.

Members of the Exeter Symphony Orchestra recently went wild to promote 'A Concert for Wildlife' which takes place at 7.30pm on Saturday 16th July at Exeter Cathedral. The concert, which is being generously supported by South West Water, aims to raise funds for the charity Devon Wildlife Trust. It seemed only natural to the organisers that the musicians should pose with their instruments in the great outdoors at the Trust's Bystock Pools nature reserve, near Budleigh Salterton. In full concert dress, members of the orchestra took part in the promotional photoshoot against a backdrop of gorse, heather and bird song.

Mike Elsey of Devon Wildlife Trust is organising 'A Concert for Wildlife' and explained:
"We want the event to bring together the beauty of classical music with the beauty of Devon, its wild places and wildlife. The idea for the photoshoot came from this. The concert's aim is to raise funds to allow Devon Wildlife Trust to continue to care for its 50 nature reserves. So what could be better than taking the musicians to one of them, the wonderfully wild Bystock nature reserve?"

It was a new experience for the musicians. Miles Leonard, Chairman of Exeter Symphony Orchestra said:
"It certainly was a beautiful and surreal morning we all spent at Bystock Pools having the portraits taken by photographer, Matt Austin! As well as putting on our own concerts, we're also really keen to engage with the wider community, so it's great to be involved with Devon Wildlife Trust, following on from recent successful projects with ABF - The Soldiers Charity and Da Capo Youth Ensemble."

For this special concert the Exeter Symphony Orchestra will be featuring the international violinist, Tamsin Waley-Cohen. The musical programme of well known, popular pieces has been specially chosen because of their strong links to nature.

The programme will include The Wasps Overture, by Ralph Vaughan Williams; Violin Concerto, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, by Benjamin Britten; The Overture from Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss; On Hearing the first Cuckoo in Spring, by Frederick Delius; Prélude a L'aprés midi d'un Faune, by Claude Debussy; and Tintagel, by Arnold Bax.

The Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust Harry Barton said:
"I'm delighted that the Exeter Symphony Orchestra has agreed to perform a fundraising concert for us and at such a wonderful venue as Exeter Cathedral. Devon's exceptional wildlife brings colour, beauty and wonder to our lives. The musical programme includes some of my personal favourites, and is a reminder of how many of the greatest pieces of music ever written have been inspired by nature. It promises to be a fabulous evening."

A Concert for Wildlife is one of a spring and summer calendar of events being organised by Devon Wildlife Trust designed to showcase local nature. The events are being generously supported by South West Water and also include: ·
  • Wembury Marine Centre Schools Education Programme - South West Water's support will ensure that 50 schools and more than 2,000 school children are able to visit Wembury Marine Centre and learn about the incredible local coastal wildlife. · 
  • Bystock Discovery Day - Tuesday 26 July . This wonderful East Devon nature reserve (near Exmouth) opens its doors and its wildlife secrets to the public. Supported by South West Water. 
Alan Hyde, Head of Communications at South West Water, said: "Our partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust is about protecting the environment and supporting schools and communities to learn about and get involved in the natural world around them. This inspired concert celebrates the sights and sounds of wildlife with a selection of musical masterpieces. It should be a great occasion."

Miranda Krestovnikoff, television presenter of Coast, The One Show and Inside Out is also involved in the Concert for Wildlife event: 
"As a musician and one who is passionate about wildlife, this evening combines two of the most important aspects of my life and I am delighted to be there with my family to support it. Prélude a L'aprés midi d'un Faune by Debussy is one of my all-time favourite orchestral pieces - being a flautist myself, I have played that haunting solo many time but it still never ceases to move me. The wildlife-related programme will be popular for nature lovers and music enthusiasts alike and I hope this event will be a great fundraiser for Devon Wildlife Trust."
Julia Iddon - violinist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)
 Julia Iddon - violinist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)
Soloist Tamsin Waley-Cohen - Photo copyright Patrick Allen (All rights reserved)
 Soloist Tamsin Waley-Cohen - Photo copyright Patrick Allen (All rights reserved)
Garry Lester - double bassist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)
Garry Lester - double bassist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)
Miranda Krestovnikoff - Photo copyright Epic Photography (All rights reserved)

Sophie Brewer - flautist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)
Sophie Brewer - flautist, Exeter Symphony Orchestra - Photo copyright Matt Austin (All rights reserved)

Tickets for 'A Concert for Wildlife' which takes place at Exeter Cathedral at 7.30pm on Saturday 16th July are priced from £12 and are available 
or by calling 01392 285983
In addition to South West Water, other sponsors and partners include Tozers, Nissan Exeter, Active Devon and Devon Life.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Seth Lakeman to play The Factory, Barnstaple 23rd September

Award-winning folk-singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman will be playing at The Factory in Barnstaple for a standing show ahead of releasing a new album 'Ballads of the Broken Few' in Autumn 2016. 

Seth has successfully steered English folk music into the mainstream with high-energy performances and a series of best-selling albums over the last 10 years. His previous albums include 2014's Word of Mouth which entered the UK Top 20 album charts on its release, Mercury-nominated 'Kitty Jay' and the gold-selling 'Freedom Fields'.

 The last few years have been eventful and busy for Seth. In between writing and recording albums he has played to audiences around the world including two tours of Australia, he has become a dad to twins, played with the BBC Concert Orchestra, presented a show on BBC Radio 2 and played at a diverse range of venues including the Royal Albert Hall, the Minack Theatre, a number of Cathedrals and in Trafalgar Square.

Seth's new album 'Ballads of the Broken Few' has been produced by Ethan Johns who has worked with Kings of Leon, Joe Cocker and Laura Marling to name but a few and will be released through Cooking Vinyl.

Be ready to embrace some amazing talent and memorising folk music.
Seth Lakeman will be playing at The Factory in Barnstaple

Tickets on Sale from Friday 9am
DOORS: 7.30pm MINIMUM AGE RECOMMENDATION: All ages. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult 
Physical tickets available from North Devon Theatres box offices PRICE: £18 - Standing only 
 [Box office booking fees may apply.]
The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ M +44 (0)7446 692751

The Fallen State Headline The Factory in Barnstaple 28th May

The Fallen State play their biggest headline to date at 800 Capacity The Factory, Petroc, Barnstaple on May 28th. Local rockers One Man Boycott, Pretend Happy and Goose The Nun will be supporting.

This show comes ahead North Devon band The Fallen State opening for Multi-Platinum selling USA rockers 3 Doors Down on their UK tour this November, including a date at the world famous Hammersmith Eventim Apollo in London. The band will join 3 Doors Down and well known US rock band Pop Evil on 3 dates of their UK tour which include Birmingham O2 Academy, Manchester Academy and London Hammersmith Apollo.

The news follows a successful 18 months for The Fallen State who started out by playing shows at Bideford Palladium Club, Exeter Cavern and The Olive Branch and The Golden Lion in Barnstaple.

The successful sell out local shows led to the band being invited to open for US Grammy award winning band Halestorm on their UK tour in March 2015 followed by a tour of Ireland in June 2015 (including the legendary Ulster Hall in Belfast) with Arena headliners Black Stone Cherry. This, with shows with bands such as Puddle of Mudd and Trapt, have led to the band building a steady UK fan base and being invited to play festivals such as Camden Rocks in London (headlined by Bullet for my Valentine) and Planet Rockstock (headlined by The Darkness) in Wales.

The band have also had several features in UK publications and the first track on the cover mount CD of Classic Rock Magazine last June. Radio play on Kerrang, Total Rock and BBC Introducing was further backed up by a 5 week rotation of their latest single 'Sinner' on SCUZZ TV in January. 
The Fallen State to play The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple
Tickets for The Fallen State at The Factory, Barnstaple are £5 Advance and are available from Beatsworkin
Age 16+ any under 16s to be accompanied by an adult
For further information or digital tickets -
The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ 
M +44 (0)7446 692751
The Fallen State Facebook

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Charity invites people to discover North Devon wildlife haven

A conservation charity is promising a day of discovery at one of its top North Devon nature reserves. Devon Wildlife Trust is staging a Nature Reserve Discovery Days at its Meeth Quarry, near Hatherleigh. The free event is open to all and takes place between 10.30am and 4pm on Sunday 22nd May. Devon Wildlife Trust’s Jo Pullin is the event’s master planner.

She said: 
“Each year we hold a series of Discovery Days to showcase the best of Devon’s wild landscapes and its most exciting wildlife. This time it’s the turn of our Meeth Quarry nature reserve to be the host. We’re expecting good numbers of people to join us to explore this beautiful part of North Devon.” Meeth Quarry only became a Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve in 2013. It was formerly a clay quarry but ceased work in the early 2000s after 100 years of production. Despite its industrial past the reserve is a wildlife hotspot being well-known for dragonflies, butterflies, birds and deer.

Jo Pullin said: 
“The event will pick up on some of the local wildlife stars. We plan to construct a giant butterfly sculpture during the day. Everyone can come along and help in the building of this mega-beast! Our Discovery Days are designed to get people to connect with their local wildlife. They are a great, free way for families to explore their wilder sides. ”The event also features pond-dipping, a specially constructed nature quiz trail, kids’ crafts and refreshments. There will also be a series of guided walks exploring the nature reserve (leaving at 11.30am and 2.30pm), and special butterfly walks led by experts from Butterfly Conservation (leaving at 11am and 2pm).

At 150 hectares Meeth Quarry is one of Devon Wildlife Trust’s biggest nature reserves. It is also one of its most easily accessible. The Tarka Trail cycle route runs through its heart. Bike trails, footpaths and easy access trails allow visitors to explore. The reserve is also served by toilets and a large car park, located via an access lane from Meeth village and the A386, four miles north of Hatherleigh. To find out more about the Meeth Quarry Discovery Day go to the ‘What’s on?’ pages of 

Meeth Quarry Discovery Day - Photo copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)
 Pond dipping at Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve
Meeth Quarry Discovery Day - Photo copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)
Meeth Quary Nature Reserve - Photo copyright DWT (All rights Reserved)
Meeth Quarry, Devon, EX20 3ER Map reference SS 547 078

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Haven with A History

Spring at last and we've taken the opportunity to explore the Tarka Trail between Bideford and Meeth.Today we're walking from Petrockstow to Meeth, a now tranquil tree-lined section of what was once the old railway, originally built as a narrow-gauge freight line to carry ball clay to Torrington from the Marland and Meeth clay pits. We step off the Trail into the light and the haven that is Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve. Nature, with a lot of help from the Devon Wildlife Trust, has reclaimed what was once a barren, busy, noisy quarry producing clay for export.

The Devon Wildlife Trust purchased the 150 hectres of Meeth Quarry in 2012 and it opened as a nature reserve in 2013. Today the lunar landscape has been replaced by two huge lakes, grassland and woodlands containing coppiced Hazel and Ash together with mature Beech and Oak. The trees today are just bursting into life and I can see that it will be wildflower rich in the weeks to come a  haven for bees, butterflies and all manner of countryside critters. There are also boggy marshy ponds, pits and gullies which will attract dragonflies and damselflies. We saw a Blackcap high in one of the trees, heard Robins and Blackbirds. Another visitor was excited about spotting a Grebe on the lake, I could just about make out it’s pointy head amongst the Terns.

This was a short sojourn and I hope to return to spend the day exploring the rest of this wonderful reserve which is open to all with bike trails, easy access trails and picnic areas, a perfect day out for families, birdwatchers and nature lovers like me. As we return to the Tarka Trail we walk across to view another DWT Nature Reserve, Ash Moor, according to the detailed sign posts there's a good chance of spotting Red Deer, Orchids, rare butterflies and dragonflies.  (Article P. Adams 24 April 2016)
Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)Peace and Tranquility at Glebe Lake
 Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
 Devon Wildlife Trust's Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve
Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
Coppiced trees springing into life at Meeth Quarry
Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
Meeth Quarry April 24th 2016
Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
Perfect for Dragonfly Watching
Meeth Quarry 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
Meeth Quarry 24th April 2016 - A Haven for all
Ash Moor 2016 Photo copyright Pat Adams (North Devon Focus)
Devon Wildlife Trust's Ash Moore Nature Reserve 

About Ash Moor. "In 2002, at the height of the terrible foot and mouth crisis, Ash Moor was chosen to be a vast burial site for infected cattle. Plans were made and the landscape was hollowed out in preparation. Fortunately, the burial site was never used. Today Devon Wildlife Trust cares for what has been transformed into a wonderful network of meadows, ponds and wetlands. This is now a top spot for wildlife".
About Meeth Quarry is a former clay works located close to Hatherleigh within the Northern Devon Nature Improvement Area and the North Devon Biosphere. 'It incorporates six threatened wildlife habitats, supports 18 species of national importance and will provide a haven for a huge range of bird life, making it an excellent winter wildlife-watching destination for local communities '. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Boost for beavers as project receives £150k

A national charity which aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK through its work with arts, environmental and community welfare organisations has given a major boost to one of Devon's most important wildlife projects.

The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust has provided £150,000 of funding to the River Otter Beaver Trial - an East Devon project which is measuring the impact of England's only breeding population of wild beavers. The funding will be used to support the next three years of the project.

The charity Devon Wildlife Trust is leading the River Otter Beaver Trial, in a partnership which also includes Clinton Devon Estates, the University of Exeter and the Derek Gow Consultancy. Devon Wildlife Trust's Mark Elliott is the Trial's manager. He said:

"The generous support of The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust is very welcome. It gives this unique and important project a firm footing. The River Otter Beaver Trial is a vital piece of work which aims to objectively understand what impact beavers will have on the local landscape and its wildlife, along with the impacts that are experienced by local farmers and the wider communities that live along the wonderful River Otter." Mark continued:

"Many people may have thought that the main task of the River Otter Beaver Trial ended when Natural England granted its licence in January 2014. However, this just signalled the start of a huge amount of work. The trial involves a great deal of scientific study and working with local communities, as well as animal welfare considerations and practical management. This all costs money. We estimate that the Trial will require around £500,000 during its lifetime to carry out its work. The support of The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust is therefore very good news." The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust (PDHCT) was founded in 1999 by businessman and philanthropist Peter De Haan. Since then it has provided £20million to arts, environment and community welfare projects throughout the UK. Peter De Haan, chairman and founder of the Trust said:

"PDHCT has a long history of supporting Wildlife Trusts in their quest to conserve and restore our national landscape. This innovative attempt to revitalise the beaver population in the River Otter has all the elements of a fantastic conversation project: lively community engagement, rigorous scientific monitoring of its progress, and an experienced team to see it through. We wish the Devon Wildlife Trust (and the beavers) every success!"

Eleven wild beavers are thought to be living on the River Otter. The animals and their signs have been seen regularly over the winter months up and down the River Otter from White Bridge, near Budleigh Salterton in the south, to the upper reaches of the river close to the Devon-Somerset border in the north.

The beavers first hit national headlines in 2013 when they were filmed by an amateur film maker. Since then the animals have proved very popular with local people. A series of guided 'beaver walks' to see field signs of the animals drew more than 300 people last year. The River Otter Beaver Trial plans to repeat the walks this summer. More details will appear at

Devon wildlife Trust European Beaver - Photo copyright Ben Lee
European Beaver. Photo copyright Ben Lee (All rights reserved)

ABOUT The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust Founded in 1999
The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust aims to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK through its work with arts, environmental and community welfare organisations. Since then the Trust has donated more than £20 million to organisations working in these areas. Led by businessman and philanthropist Peter De Haan, the Trust operates under a venture philanthropy model, working closely with the organisations it supports financially and organisationally to increase their capacity and impact. Until recently the Trust targeted a significant proportion of its resources towards the youth arts charity IdeasTap, as well as select UK wildlife trusts, and community projects surrounding its South London offices. The Trust will not exist in perpetuity, as the founding Trustees planned for its reserves to be gradually spent over a 20 year period from its date of constitution. The Trust is not open to unsolicited applications.