Thursday, 25 August 2016

Are you the next Attenborough? Wildlife Film Making Workshop at Northam Burrows

Could you be the next David Attenborough? Come and learn the principles and get some hands-on experience of wildlife film making with professional film makers and local wildlife experts at this one day intensive wildlife film making workshop.

Torridge District Council and the Northam Burrows team are working with community film makers North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) to run this one day workshop for ages 16 and over at Northam Burrows Country Park on Sunday 11 September 2016.

Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of NDMI says "The event is part of our Wild Shorts wildlife and environment competition project. This intensive workshop would normally cost £50 per person but thanks to our funders The North Devon Coast AONB, Fullabrook CIC and the Tarka Country Trust we are able to offer places at £10 for adults and £5 for 16 and 17 year olds. Parking on the Burrows is £3.50 but if you get there before 9.30am it's free."

"Participants can expect a real hands-on, interactive experience. There are only 10 places available, which will allow everyone to gain as much as possible from the event."

NDMI -  One day workshop for ages 16 and over at Northam Burrows Country Park on Sunday 11 September
 One day workshop for ages 16 and over at Northam Burrows Country Park on Sunday 11 September 2016
Booking is essential.   
or contact Amanda McCormack at or telephone 01271 860610. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Charity provides unique opportunity to explore wildlife haven from the water.

A conservation charity is promising a day of water sports and nature discovery on one of its top North Devon reserves.

Devon Wildlife Trust is teaming up with Encompass Training SW to explore the lakes at Meeth Quarry nature reserve near Hatherleigh by canoe, kayak and raft! This is a unique opportunity as the lakes are not normally open to water sports activities.

The event takes place on Thursday 1 September with two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Sessions cost £12 per person and booking is essential.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Jasmine Atkinson said:
"The upcoming Water Sports Day is a unique opportunity to get out on the lakes and explore Meeth Quarry from a watery angle. Families will have the chance to kayak and canoe around Woolladon Lake and test their creative abilities with raft-building!"

"We'll be on the lookout for some of Meeth's amazing wildlife. Dragonflies will be patrolling the lake edges and we'll be joined by many water birds including little grebes and tufted ducks!"

A free family day will run alongside the water sports activities. Visitors can explore the wildlife of Meeth with pond -dipping, bug hunting, trails and crafts. There will also be two guided walks at 11am and 1pm to delve deeper into nature.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Lucy Flatman is looking forward to welcoming visitors:
"Our Open Day at Meeth aims to introduce families to this wonderful reserve and it's diverse wildlife. Meeth is a reserve with an unusual history which we feel makes it all the more special. We will have activities, trails and crafts available to visitors on the 1st September and we hope to see a good turnout."

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 its dragonflies, butterflies, birds and deer.

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
Meeth Quarry Water Sports Day
Meeth Quarry Water Sports Day
Meeth Quarry Water Sports Day
To find out more about the Meeth Quarry Water Sports Day go to the 'What's on' pages of 
or ring 01392 279244 to book your place!
Location: Meeth Quarry,  Hatherleigh, Devon, EX20 3ER - Grid referenceSS 547 078 

Butterfly Effect Films 'Captures the Magic' with their first film

Following the success of the boat stories film series, Jo Stewart-Smith (producer) and Simon Vacher (director of photography) formed the partnership Butterfly Effect Films to make more powerful short films which will fly far and wide. They've delivered their first film, 'Creating New Farm Wetlands' for North Devon's Biosphere

The film covers the hot topic: how to prevent agricultural runoff which can pollute the river system, force closure of fledgling shellfish businesses in the estuary and lower water quality on bathing beaches. The teams made a decision early on to ask the farmers to tell the story in their words (just like Boat Stories did with the fishermen.) Jo Stewart-Smith says, "I did wonder whether farmers working in the hills would want to talk about pollution in the estuary, but as soon as I listened to the farmers, a different picture emerged and I realised we rarely hear their side of the story."  As Phil Morrish from Stoneyard farm, near Barnstaple says "the last thing we want to do is lose precious sediment and nutrients into the river. By digging a simple sediment trap, we can actually return this nutrient-rich soil to the farm."

Jo adds, "initially the farmers may have felt outside their comfort zone speaking on camera, but their passion for the project overrode any worries and they were walking and talking us through like professional presenters." As Phil digs a series of ditches, he explains "the important thing I learned is slowing the flow of water gives the sediment and nutrients time to settle out and at the same time reduces the flash flood risk to nearby Barnstaple." The result is a positive, inspiring film which reveals that creating new wetlands brings numerous other benefits to the farm like saving electricity on the dirty water pumps or needing less bedding in the sheds. Andrew Mather's new wildlife ponds now form one of the attractions for caravaners visiting Hallsdown farm on the fringes of Exmoor. Tom Hynes, biodiversity officer for the biosphere, outlines the long term gains for all of us as the patchwork of new wetlands matures and the water quality in the estuary improves. As Phil Morrish says "this project benefits the farm and the river environment so it's a win win situation." Director of Photography, Simon says, "To make the link between the hills and the estuary we followed the course of the river Yeo weaving its way through some of the most scenically beautiful parts of North Devon to the wide open ocean. This area of the South West is a film-makers dream." Dawn Murphy from Morte Wildlife Group said "I thoroughly enjoyed watching the film and was interested to learn about the win win perspective the created wetlands have achieved.  The film has captured the ' magic ' of Boat Stories all over again!"
Simon Vacher filming Tom Hynes & Andrew Mather by the new pond - Photo copyright Butterfly Films (All rights reserved)
Simon Vacher filming Tom Hynes & Andrew Mather by the new pond - Photo copyright Jo Stewart-Smith (All rights reserved)
Photos copyright Butterfly Films (All rights reserved)
Simon Vacher filming Chris & Phil Morrish for North Devon's Biosphere 
Andrew Mather in the sheep sheds and Digging the new ponds
All Photos copyright Butterfly Films (All rights reserved)
 The film can be viewed on the biosphere's estuary project page  or on butterfly effects   
It was made to inspire other farmers to create wetlands and take up available grants so don't forget to watch and share.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Wildlife Trust welcomes back long-lost crab

A species of crab which had not been seen in Devon for more than 30 years has been found living on a popular stretch of coast close to Plymouth.

The crustacean in question goes by the scientific name Clibanarius erythropus but is more commonly known as the St Piran's crab. The find was made in Wembury Bay by Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer John Hepburn on one of the many regular rockpool safaris run by the charity from its popular Wembury Marine Centre.

The last record of a St Piran's crab in Devon was made in 1985. Once common along the southern coastline of the South West it's thought that the crab, which measures no more than 15mm long, fell victim to pollution resulting from environmental disasters including the wrecking of Torrey Canyon oil tanker in 1967, along with other factors including changing sea temperatures.

Wembury Marine Centre's rockpool safaris have been running for 25 years bringing a unique insight into marine life along our coasts to thousands of holidaymakers and local people. John Hepburn has been volunteering at the Marine Centre for 13 years helping with hundreds of safaris. However, on this occasion he came across something very special among the seaweed and sand of the Bay's tidal rockpools.

St Piran's crab is a type of hermit crab which uses the empty shells of other molluscs to make a home. Spotting what he thought was a relatively common find in the shape of a 'netted dog whelk' shell, John made his amazing discovery. He said:
"Picking up the shell I realised it was not empty. What I assumed was a hermit crab was more confident than usual and came out a long way to examine the end of my finger. Being colour-blind I asked the family I was showing around the rockpools if the crab was red, and having been told it was reddish, I thought it worthwhile trying to get a picture in case it was a St Piran's crab."

Once back home John examined his picture, comparing it with on-line videos of St Piran's crabs. His find matched the videos, a fact confirmed later by the Marine Biological Association of the UK. This Devon discovery of a St Piran's crab follows its re-discovery in March in Cornwall, close to Falmouth. The Cornish find was the first in the UK since the 1980s and generated widespread media attention. Viewers of BBC's Spring Watch programme were asked to give the crustacean a 'common' name which up until that point had only been known as Clibanarius erythropus. St Piran, the patron Saint of Cornwall, was the popular response.

Now St Piran's crabs have also been found alive and well living in Devon and their proud discoverer John Hepburn said:
"This is a pretty special find. There were lots of other people hoping to be the one to discover the first St Piran's crab outside Cornwall. That it's now making a comeback after being absent from our shores for so long shows that it is always worth making the effort to save our seas."

Coral Smith, Marine Education Officer at Devon Wildlife Trust said:
"John's discovery came during one of our regular rockpool safaris. It just goes to show that our local marine wildlife still has the capacity to surprise and how important places like Wembury are, it's why it holds one of the highest forms of statutory protection as a Special Area of Conservation. We're honoured that Devon's first St Piran's crabs have been found here - they are certainly very welcome back!"

The answer to the question of how these small crabs may have re-established themselves in the South West after an absence of decades remains something of a mystery. However some marine biologists think the new populations of St Piran's crabs may have been carried across the seas as plankton from existing populations on the west coast of France.
Wembury Marine Centre's rockpool safaris continue through summer into the autumn. For more details visit

St Piran's crab - Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer John Hepburn (All rights Reserved)
St Piran's crab  - Photo copyright Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer John Hepburn (All rights Reserved)
A rockpool safari at Wembury Marine Centre. Photo copyright Nigel Hicks (All rights reserved)
A rockpool safari at Wembury Marine Centre. Photo copyright Nigel Hicks (All rights reserved)

Friday, 19 August 2016

Generosity of local people gives rare bats a boost

Bats in North Devon should see a better future thanks to the generous response to a Devon Wildlife Trust fundraising appeal - but more support is needed for the target to be met.

The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project works to secure the future of one of Europe's rarest bats - and the wildlife-rich farmland and woodland they rely on. The project works around several key maternity roosts in Devon including one near Braunton.

Staff from the bat project, which is led by Devon Wildlife Trust working in partnership with local organisations such as North Devon AONB, identified £26,000 of funding required for work to improve bat roost sites. After the first month, the Homes for Bats appeal had reached 80% of that target, leaving £4800 still to raise.

Project Manager Ed Parr Ferris said: "We're delighted to see such a generous response from local people. We've been working with children from Southmead Primaryand Braunton Academy to inspire them about their local greater horseshoe bats and show them what amazing animals they are."

Ed continued: "People in North Devon can feel proud that their landscapes can still support such special wildlife - but these bats have suffered around a 90% decline in England over the last century so they need all the help they can get. Every donation to our appeal really can help improve things for North Devon's wildlife."

North Devon AONB Manager Jenny Carey-Wood said: "Greater horseshoe bats, and the hedges, grasslands, orchards and woodlands they rely on, are great examples of what a beautiful part of the country North Devon is. That's why it's so important that these areas are protected for nature. One of the reasons North Devon AONB is involved in the Greater Horseshoe Bat Project is to inspire people about the wonderful wildlife around us - so we hope that more local residents and visitors will support the Homes for Bats appeal this summer".

The Homes for Bats appeal is trying to raise £26,000 to cover enhancement of at least one damaged maternity roost as well as restoration of insect-rich habitat around roosts such as the one near Braunton. Thanks to match-funding of this project by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), every £35 donated to the appeal releases a further £65 of funds for bat conservation work from HLF.

Donations can be made online at or by phoning Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244
DWT Homes for bats appeal. Roosting Greater Horseshoe Bats Photo copyright John J Kaczanow All rights reserved)
Roosting Greater Horseshoe Bats Photo copyright John J Kaczanow All rights reserved)

Shining a light on hidden side of the moor

A new community project is to bring to life the 'hidden' side of Dartmoor, the internationally important blanket bogs which cover around 10% of the moor

The Magnificent Mires project will highlight, for both local residents and visitors, the wealth of wildlife that relies on this threatened habitat and the many services Dartmoor's mires provide for people.

Thanks to a grant of £57,800 from Heritage Lottery Fund, the one-year project is to be launched later this month by Devon Wildlife Trust and project partners, Dartmoor National Park Authority, The Duchy of Cornwall and Dartmoor Preservation Society.

Dartmoor has the largest expanse of upland peat in southern England and supports a unique mix of Devon's wildlife. Carnivorous plants such as sundews and butterworts, as well as the rare bog orchid, thrive in the wet ground. This flora supports a wide range of wildlife including scarce insects like the bog hoverfly and the marsh fritillary butterfly. Birds on the mires include the most southerly breeding
population of dunlin in the world.

This rich landscape performs important functions which are crucial to our daily lives. Peatlands are a vital carbon store: Dartmoor alone stores an estimated 10 million tonnes of carbon in its peatland soils - equivalent to an entire year of carbon dioxide emissions from UK industry.

Bogs also act as sponges, absorbing water in times of flood and delivering clean, naturally filtered supplies in times of drought. Almost half of the 157 billion litres of water annually supplied by South West Water is extracted from rivers and reservoirs that have their source on Dartmoor's mires.

The wild blanket bogs of Dartmoor have attracted myth and folklore over the centuries and have provided inspiration for many writers, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles to the poetry of Ted Hughes.

Dartmoor's peatlands began life as much as 10,000 years ago steadily forming a blanket swathing the high moorland landscape. Dartmoor supports the largest concentrations of archaeological remains in Europe from Neolithic through to Medieval, as well as remains from more recent mining industries now often cloaked within the mosses and heathers. This cultural landscape has been, and continues to be, shaped by human activity through extensive livestock farming and tells a fascinating story which the new project will bring to life.

But Dartmoor's bogs are often perceived as barren, inaccessible and simply too wild to explore safely. The Magnificent Mires project will bring people to the bogs through a programme of wildlife walks and other events at sites such as DWT Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, near Widecombe.

The project will also bring the bogs to people with a Bog Garden, managed and funded by the Dartmoor Preservation Association and the National Park Authority at the National Park Visitor Centre at Princetown, as well as hands-on interpretation materials that will reveal the crucial role the mires play in supporting our everyday lives.

An education programme will invite schools to be 'champions' of their moorland rivers - the Dart, Tavy, Okement, Bovey and Teign - celebrating the blanket bogs at the headwaters, and taking positive action to care for their local patch, including a 'Bog in a Box' for each school. The important role that farmers play in managing the land through extensive stock grazing will be brought to life.

While there are still some areas of high quality blanket bog, the future of much of Dartmoor's peatlands is uncertain. There are concerns about the health of mires in some areas due to drying out and possible erosion, along with uncertainty over the impact of climate change.

But in the words of Sir David Attenborough: "No one will protect what they don't care about - and no one will care about what they have never experienced". The most recent survey of visitor activity on Dartmoor shows that 82% of people walk less than 5 miles. The blanket bogs are mostly found in remote locations and so are rarely experienced, while knowledge of their importance for wildlife and people remains low.

By providing a variety of ways to experience and learn about Dartmoor's Magnificent Mires, the project aims to engage people with these unique places, encourage them to explore and learn more, and inspire them to care about halting the decline of the blanket bogs and securing their future.

Peter Burgess, Director of Development, Policy and Research at Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "Dartmoor's blanket bogs are alive with some of the most special wildlife in the country, our most southerly breeding dunlin and carpets of carnivorous sundew. Through the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund the partnership will reveal these hidden treasures and reconnect people with the stunning sights and sounds of the high Moor."

Phil Hutt of Dartmoor Preservation Association said: "The Dartmoor blanket bogs are a hugely significant environment, act as a critically important carbon store and deliver an enormous amount of clean water to the South-west. The Magnificent Mires project will help to change the public perception of this wonderful, fragile habitat and reinforce the need to protect it for the benefit of future generations."

Alison Kohler, Director of Conservation and Communities at Dartmoor National Park Authority said: "We are pleased to be part of this project to celebrate the fantastic mires we have here in Dartmoor National Park. We hope people of all ages will get involved and take advantage of this opportunity to get up close and learn about the history and wildlife associated with this habitat and its ongoing management by local farmers."

Tom Stratton of The Duchy of Cornwall said: "This project will bring to life the special qualities of Dartmoor's blanket bogs - a little known resource to many - and demonstrate the important role that they have in terms of biodiversity, water management and carbon sequestration. The Duchy of Cornwall is pleased to provide its support."

Nerys Watts from Heritage Lottery Fund said: "Dartmoor's blanket bogs are important for any number of reasons, be it as a carbon store or wildlife habitat. By connecting people to these areas, and opening them up for exploration and discovery, this National Lottery support will increase understanding and interest in these hidden parts of the legendary moor and ensure they are protected for the future."

Dartmoor mire at DWT Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, near  Widecombe. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)

Dartmoor mire at DWT Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, near  Widecombe. Photo copyright Simon Williams (All rights reserved)
Photos of well-managed Dartmoor mire at DWT Emsworthy Mire nature reserve, near
Widecombe copyright Simon Williams (All Rights Reserved)
The Magnificent Mires Project is managed by a partnership led by Devon Wildlife Trust, with Dartmoor National Park

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Get creative and celebrate North Devon's natural beauty with your own short film...

As part of the BBC's Get Creative campaign, community film makers North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) want you to get out into the wild and create a short film about the landscape and nature of the North Devon Coast AONB.

NDMI are BBC Get Creative Champions - encouraging people in the UK to get involved with the arts, culture and creativity. Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of NDMI says

"We are thrilled to be a part of this campaign and we know that there are lots of talented film makers and photographers of all ages in North Devon who can help us build a collection of short films about our very special environment."

"We are great fans of the outdoors and value the outstanding natural beauty of our coast and countryside. The Wild Shorts competition has entry categories for film makers of all ages and any level of experience. We want to inspire nature lovers and environmentalists to pick up their camcorder, digital camera, mobile phone or tablet and share their perspective of the AONB with the world."

All the information you will need about the Wild Shorts competition can be found on the NDMI website or by telephoning Amanda on 01271 860610: the website also provides film making tips and for inspiration NDMI will be blogging with inspirational ideas throughout the competition.

Amanda adds "We are grateful to our funders for helping us run this initiative - a first for North Devon - and want to thank the North Devon Coast AONB, Fullabrook CIC and Tarka Country Trust for their funding. We have also been delighted with the response from local businesses and organisations in offering prizes with donations from GoldCoast Oceanfest, Down End Croyde Car Park, The National Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, Combe Martin Dinosaur and Wildlife Park and Ilfracombe Aquarium."

Wild Shorts is open for entries throughout the summer and autumn with a closing date of 30 November 2016. There are some great prizes to tempt all ages and the winning films will be shown at a red carpet award ceremony in January and be exhibited on the AONB website.

Wild Life Shorts Film Making Competition
Wild Life Shorts Film Making Competition

North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

or call Amanda on 01271 860610

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

A day of discovery at Cricklepit Mill and wildlife garden

A wildlife garden and historic mill in the heart of Exeter will be opening its doors
to the public for a special summer open day.

The 'Water and Wildlife' event is being held at Cricklepit Mill, the headquarters of
Devon Wildlife Trust, on Friday 12 August, 10am - 3pm. Cricklepit is the last
working watermill in Exeter and is only a stone's throw away from the Quay.

Visitors will be given the chance to see the historic mill in action. Milling will
run throughout the morning from 10am-12noon with volunteer millers on hand to answer
any questions and help people discover the fascinating process of flour production.

Exeter once had many mills in the city but Cricklepit is the only one to survive in
its working state, and represents an integral part of the city's industrial
heritage. The flour produced on the day will be available to buy.
Families can go wild in the garden with natural arts and crafts. There will be
weaving, flower pressing and wild art pictures, all making use of the natural
materials around.

Visitors can also discover what hides in the meadows with bug hunting throughout the
day! The Cricklepit garden has been designed for wildlife with grasshoppers,
colourful moths and flower beetles all making their homes here.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Jasmine Atkinson said 'this is a day for everyone to discover
the wonders of Cricklepit. The historic machinery fascinates all, both young and
old. Visitors can feel the grain, smell the flour dust and hear the old cogs'

'The wildlife garden will be our inspiration for natural crafts, and children can
create and make wonderful artwork to take home with them.'

'We are looking forward to opening the gates on this special summer holiday event.
Its drop-in so visitors can come anytime; bring a picnic and make a day of it or pop
in on your way to the Quay'.

The wildlife garden will also be open to visitors. Cricklepit's garden is an urban
oasis in the heart of the city. Mid-Summer is a great time to visit this
community-led project. Holly blue butterflies, grey wagtails and occasionally
kingfishers can be seen in the garden!

The Water and Wildlife Day is taking place at Cricklepit Mill, EX2 4AB, near Exeter
Quay on 12th August, between 10am- 3pm. It's free and visitors are invited to
drop-in throughout the day. Milling demonstrations will run 10am - 12noon.

This day is part of a new campaign called My Wild Neighbourhood by The Southern
Co-operative and Wildlife Trusts in the southern region to help families get outside
and explore wildness in their neighbourhoods.
For more information about this event go to 
or find us on Facebook and Twitter @Cricklepitmill.

For people who cannot make this date the Mill's gardens are open 9am-5pm weekdays
(except Bank Holidays) throughout the year.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Clovelly Lectures: Clovelly welcomes Lord Hennessey of Nympsfield FBA,

Clovelly welcomes Lord Hennessey of Nympsfield FBA, the 12th political speaker at Clovelly’s Forum on World Affairs, International Relations, Security & Defence and Science & Technology. A platform for providing information for informed choices.

Now in its 5th year, Clovelly Lectures has found in Devon a responsive audience. A curiosity and interest in listening and discussing matters that affects our lives in a fast changing and confusing economic and political world.

On the 1st October 2016, Lord Hennessey will be tackling the subject of:


Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, Lord Hennessy has been a regular contributor to the Press, Radio and Television since 1987 including a regular presenter of ‘Analysis’ on BBC Radio 4 and guest editor of the ‘Today’ programme.

In 2010 Lord Hennessy became a life peer taking the title Baron Hennessy of Nympsfield and sits as a cross bencher in the House of Lords. Lord Peter Hennessy started his career in Journalism writing for the Times, The Financial Times and the Economist, where he found a love of the constitution and specialised in the history of the British Government. Lord Hennessy moved into academia in 1992. He became Professor of contemporary history at Queen Mary and Westfield College, London. From 1994 – 1997 he gave public lectures as Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London. In 1986 he co-founded the Institute of Contemporary British History. Since 2001, Lord Hennessy has been Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History at Queen Mary. The themes of the constitution and the power of the machinery of Government in Britain have stayed at the heart of Lord Hennessey’s research.

Lord Hennessy has written several contemporary history books most notably ‘Never Again: Britain 1945–1951 which won the Duff Cooper Prize and the NCR Book Award and ‘Having it so Good: Britain in the 1950’s which won the Orwell Prize.

Clovelly welcomes Lord Hennessey of Nympsfield FBA

Clovelly Lectures:Speaker Lord Hennessey 1st October at Clovelly Visitor Centre
For tickets and further information please contact: or Tel: 01237 431200