Friday, 30 September 2016

New report calls for more protected areas for marine wildlife

Today, The Wildlife Trusts publish a new report, 'The case for more Marine Conservation Zones'. The report identifies 48 areas at sea that still need protection for their marine habitats and wildlife.

Nine of the sites identified are off Devon's coasts, with two areas in the Bristol Channel, one in Lyme Bay and six Devon estuaries recommended as MCZs.

Following the designation of 50 Marine Conservation Zones since 2011 (of which six are in Devon) these new sites would complete a network of special places where habitats and wildlife can flourish to safeguard healthy and productive seas for the future.

All but one of the Devon sites in the report have already been recommended as Marine Conservation Zones in a previous report to the government following local consultations representing all groups of sea-users in the south west.

The new report is published in advance of the government's plans to announce a third and final phase of Marine Conservation Zones - the government plans to consult the public in 2017 and designate the chosen sites in 2018. The report will be presented to the environment minister, Therese Coffey.

Plymouth-based Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts, said: "This is an unprecedented opportunity to create an effective network of protected areas at sea.  If the government lives up to its stated commitments such a network would put us at the forefront of worldwide marine conservation. Designating these 48 wild havens as Marine Conservation Zones would go some way to guaranteeing a future for the extraordinarily diverse natural landscapes that exist beneath the waves off our coast.

"The government designated 50 MCZs in the first two phases. Unfortunately, this does not provide us with the really comprehensive network needed to enable marine wildlife to thrive once more. We need a sensible number, in the best locations and with the right degree of connectivity between areas. We hope that the government will aim high and hit the 48 mark for this last phase."

The nine MCZs recommended in coastal and offshore areas of Devon are:

1. Axe Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Seaton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds and nursery areas for fish such as bass

2. Dart Estuary:
Where? South Hams, upstream of Dartmouth
Why? Habitats provide food and shelter for huge range of species including seahorses, oysters, mussels, sponges and anemones.

3. Devon Avon Estuary
Where? South Hams, near Bigbury
Why? Important nursery areas for crustaceans, molluscs and juvenile fish

4. Erme Estuary
Where? South Hams
Why? Habitats for lobsters and crabs, spawning grounds for sea trout

5. Lyme Bay Deeps
Where? 1055 square kilometres in south-west of Lyme Bay - westernmost point 4 miles east of Torbay
Why? Area used by white beaked dolphins for feeding, breeding and raising their young. Also important for common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoise. Basking shark and minke whale also recorded here. Feeding grounds for seabirds such as guillemot, razorbill and Balearic shearwater

6. Morte Platform
Where? Bristol Channel, 5km off Baggy Point
Why? Rich communities of subtidal living reefs including ross worm reefs and mussel beds which provide shelter for many other marine species

7. North-west of Lundy
Where? Bristol Channel, north-west of Lundy
Why? Diverse seabed habitats supporting higher than average range of species, including sandy, muddy and rocky habitats

8. Otter Estuary
Where? East Devon, near Budleigh Salterton
Why? Important for saltmarsh and mudflats, feeding grounds for wading birds such as curlew and lapwing. Nursery areas for several fish species

9. Taw/Torridge Estuary
Where? North Devon, near Barnstaple and Bideford
Why? Important habitat for migratory European eels, feeding grounds for wading birds, nursery area for fish such as bass

Harry Barton, Chief Executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "Devon 's marine treasures include spectacular underwater reefs, waving forests of kelp and vital breeding grounds for our most charismatic ocean giants - whales, dolphins and porpoises. We've lost so much in the past, but we can be rightfully proud of what we still have. This is our chance to give our amazing marine wildlife the protection it deserves, and desperately needs."
Devon Wildlife Trust - Cuckoo Wrasse, Male, Plymouth Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Cuckoo Wrasse, Male, Plymouth Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)

Devon Wildlife Trust - Common Lobster Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Common Lobster Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
Devon Wildlife Trust - Bass Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)
 Bass Photo copyright Paul Naylor (All rights reserved)

Proposed Marine Conservation Zones
You can find more information about the individual sites proposed within this report
Devon Wildlife Trust
Devon Wildlife Trust is the county's leading environmental voluntary body, with more
than 31,000 members. To find out more go to

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Stepping up to the South West Coast Path Challenge 2016.

Following the inaugural South West Coast Path Challenge in 2015, the next great stomp for charity kicks off on Saturday for a month-long series of events to raise funds to help protect this National Trail.

Organised by the South West Coast Path Association in partnership with the National Trust, registered participants are invited to set their own challenge or take part in one of the organised walks taking place throughout October.

Beginning with a 10-mile walk from Minehead to Porlock on Saturday (1st October), around 70 people are taking part, completing the first leg of the 630-mile route that provides continuous coastal access around the entire south west peninsula.

Among the participants are 14 school children from Wellington School. Their teacher, Mr Nigel Smith said:
“Wellington School are proud to support the Association’s Challenge as the students use the path for their Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award and believe that it is vital to protect and preserve the path for future generations to enjoy.”

A husband and wife team have joined forces with their friends as part of their own challenge to eventually walk the entire 630-mile length of the South West Coast Path.
Keith Bailey said:
“I started my journey walking from South Haven Point in Dorset, the official end point of the Coast Path. The Minehead Challenge gives my wife Wendy and I the opportunity to walk the first section and so our future walks will now fill in the gaps in between.”
“Fundraising to enable the volunteers and teams to continue their amazing work is essential - particularly as government and local authority budgets come under increasing strain. I and my fellow team members are looking forward to contributing, albeit in a small way, to the continued funding needs whilst having an enjoyable day together on the Somerset coastline.”

Setting off from the start marker in Minehead, the route takes in the rugged moorland countryside and the highest coastline in England. Highlights include the stunning Exmoor scenery and a chance to spot rare plants and animals, including red deer.

You’ll witness the evidence of coastal erosion, where the 6000 year old shingle ridge across Porlock Bay was breached, resulting in dramatic flooding of the fields behind at each high tide to form Porlock Weir, where the walk ends.

If that gives you a taste for this coastal odyssey, you can join another 10-mile walk from Durlston to South Haven Point at the end of the month on Saturday 29th October.

Last year’s event saw more than 700 people clocking up around 9,000 miles and raising thousands of pounds in sponsorship. It is hoped that this record will be beaten and with more than 300 people taking place this weekend alone, it’s on track for success.

Money raised will go towards Path improvement projects to help protect the coastline for future generations. It costs at least £1,000 to maintain just 1 mile of Coast Path, plus an additional £2,000 for the Trust to take care of the land the surrounds it.
Funding for the trail has been in sharp decline for the past five years and it’s this motivating factor, to help plug the funding gap, that has inspired many of its rangers and National Trust staff to step up to the Challenge and organise their own events on the land that they care for on a daily basis. 
South West Coast Path Challenge 2016 -  Photo Porlock Weir copyright Andreas Byrne (All Rights Reserved)
 South West Coast Path Challenge 2016 -  Photo Porlock Weir copyright Andreas Byrne (All Rights Reserved)
For further information and to take part visit the Association’s website at 
or call 01752 896237. 
Registration costs from £10 per person and you’ll receive a fundraising pack and a Challenge 2016 t-shirt.  
Follow news of the Challenge @SWCoastPath #630challenge and on Facebook/southwestcoastpath

Saturday, 24 September 2016


They're back again! The Pistoleros are riding into Barnstaple again Although they've never really been away. Barry Ashworth's evergreen bunch of dubwise vagabonds will be rocking festivals thru the summer, and now it's back to the towns and city's previewing tracks from there soon to be released 7th album And it's going to be another corker.

Their last album 'The Return Of The Pistoleros' makes them sound like a Latin prison gang, extras in a spaghetti western, a marauding mob of Tequila-swigging mobsters, or a Mexican drug cartel. Some of which have a grain of truth to them. Joking aside, though, it's been a long road to get to where they are - one of the most popular and best-loved acts on the circuit - but it's testimony to their perseverance and staying power that their popularity still keeps increasing.

The Dubs have been dubbed 'The Pistoleros' in recent times by their army of fans - so it seemed only natural to adopt the tag for their latest album on Rob Da Bank's Sunday Best imprint. El Pistolero is also the nickname of Uruguay talisman Luiz Suarez, who knocked England out of the 2014 World Cup. But as Barry is a Liverpool fan, he's happy to still have this association. Just. The Dub Pistols coalesced in the mid-'90s and initially surfed the big beat wave along with acts like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim. They had some minor chart hits like 'Cyclone' and 'There's Gonna Be A Riot' on Concrete Records, remixed the likes of Moby and Limp Bizkit, and made dramatic inroads into America.

Their debut album in 1998, 'Point Blank', cemented their position as party-rockers extraordinaire, and by the time it came to their second album around the Millennium - 'Six Million Ways To Live', with guest vocals by reggae great Horace Andy and lead singer of The Specials, Terry Hall - they were more concerned with some of the world's problems. The album was due to come out just before September 11th 2001 - the date of the Twin Towers terrorist attack in New York - and so had to be postponed. It was the start of the now-familiar Dub Pistols self-deprecating mantra: what could possibly go wrong?

As the noughties progressed, they signed to Sunday Best and went a bit more poppy for 'Speakers & Tweeters', which included cover versions of 'Rapture' by Blondie, 'Peaches' by The Stranglers and 'Gangsters' by The Specials - a track they had been making their own live. After guesting on their second album with 'Problem Is', estranged Specials singer Terry Hall started singing live with them, and the warm reaction he received from music fans was instrumental in him agreeing to reform his infamous 2-Tone band a few years later.

Next Dubs album 'Rum & Coke', so named after some infamous recording sessions in Barbados, introduced more guest vocalists such as former Freak Power man Ashley Slater and Beats International gal Lindy Layton, and with last long-player 'Worshipping The Dollar' in 2012  they consolidated their position as one of the foremost festival-rockers in Europe.

The Dubs toured with Neville Staple from The Specials at the start of 2014, and this led to the toaster guesting on 'Real Gangster' on the new 'Pistoleros' album. On the album, 'Our Life' is a free-spirited dub cut featuring long-term Dubs vocalists Lindy Layton and TK Lawrence. Languid beats song 'Say Goodbye' features the deep jazzual tones of Ashley Slater, 'Report' showcases major new hip-hop talent Genesis Elijah freeflowing over some lilting Dan Bowskill verses, and 'Kill Your Sound' has great reggae vocalist Seanie Tee all over it. 'Roll & Come In' sees the legendary Earl 16 (Leftfield etc) return to add sweet words to this spacious dub cut, and regular MC Darrison guests on dubwise drum & bass party track 'Ride With It'. And there's plenty more where that came from - it is, indeed, another corker.

Like their incendiary live shows, this new long-player is a riotous mix of dub, drum & bass, hip-hop, punk and ska. They'll be heading out on tour this autumn in support of the new 'Pistoleros'  release, so watch out! The gun-slinging outlaws are back in town - and this time, they're swigging Tequila.
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016
Dub Pistols return to The Factory Petroc, Barnstaple 30th September 2016

DOORS 19.30 - 23.00 TICKETS: £15.00 +BF
BEATS WORKIN - 01271 321111

The Factory Petroc Brannams Campus Oakwood Close Barnstaple Devon EX31 3NJ

Friday, 23 September 2016

Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison is the face behind a new campaign to help reverse the fortunes of the South West's struggling wildlife.

The campaign features a short film released by Devon Wildlife Trust and other Wildlife Trust's in the South West and which showcases the work they do for people and nature. It includes images of Devon's Wembury Bay and Dartmoor, along with wildlife favourites including otters, hedgehogs and barn owls.

In the film Ellie Harrison explains:
"Growing up in the countryside meant the sounds and sights of the great outdoors filled my childhood with wonder."
However she concludes:
"Sadly today much of our wildlife is fighting for its existence."

It's a claim supported in a recent report. The State of Nature released on Wednesday 14th September brought together expert research on how our wildlife is faring. The report's conclusions were stark with 56% of species surveyed found to be in decline since 1970 and a startling 15% of all species surveyed facing the threat of extinction.

In Devon once familiar animals have become scarce with cuckoos declining by 80% since 1977, and the sites at which lapwings are breeding having shrunk by 97% to just two isolated spots.

However, against this bleak background the film provides a positive message for the future. Ellie explains how she was inspired by the work of The Wildlife Trusts restoring urban and rural landscapes for people and nature. The film also showcases the efforts of hundreds of Wildlife Trusts' volunteers who work in the South West to protect wildlife for the future. It also depicts the charity's many nature reserves and their role as vital havens for wildlife.

It was this inspiration which moved Ellie Harrison to speak out for nature: "When my local Wildlife Trust asked me if I'd lend my support I immediately said,yes! Yes to helping nature recover on land, in rivers and in the sea. I said yes to fighting for the things that I love and value."

Devon Wildlife Trust's Steve Hussey said:
"We're delighted that Ellie Harrison is backing our 'Say Yes to Wildlife' campaign. Her film shows how much nature means to her and how its present day predicament has moved her to back The Wildlife Trusts."
"We're hoping other people will follow Ellie's example and 'Say Yes to Wildlife' and we think the best place to start is to watch her wonderful new film."

You can watch Ellie's video at the Devon Wildlife Trust's website
Countryfile's Ellie Harrison urges people to 'Say Yes to Wildlife'

Tap link to view State of Nature Report

Thursday, 22 September 2016

State of Nature 2016. More than one in ten UK species threatened with extinction, new study finds

It's not too late to save UK nature but we must act now - that is the conclusion from a coalition of more than 50 leading wildlife and research organisations behind the State of Nature 2016 report.

Following on from the groundbreaking State of Nature report in 2013, leading professionals from 53 wildlife organisations have pooled expertise and knowledge to present the clearest picture to date of the status of our native species across land and sea. The report reveals that over half (56 per cent) of UK species studied have declined since 1970, while 15 per cent (1,199 of the nearly 8,000 species assessed in the UK) are under threat of disappearing from our shores altogether.

Harry Barton, chief executive of the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "This report provides the most detailed picture of the state of our wildlife ever. There are some successes to be proud of here in Devon, beavers, otters and little egrets among them, but overall the tide continues to move rapidly in the wrong direction. More than half the world's wildlife has disappeared since 1970. It is still within our gift to turn this around and recover much of that loss. But if we want to avoid a similar disastrous decline over the next generation, all of us are going to have to do much more, think a lot more radically, and be far braver."

There are many inspiring examples of conservation action that is helping to turn the tide. From pioneering science that has revealed for the first time the reasons why nature is changing in the UK, to conservation work - such as the recovery of the cirl bunting in Devon, and its reintroduction to Cornwall, the return of beavers to Devon for the first time in centuries, and the reintroduction of cranes in Somerset and the large blue butterfly, also in Somerset - and the restoration of areas of our uplands, meadows and coastal habitats. But more is needed to put nature back where it belongs.

Nick Bruce-White, regional director of the RSPB in the South West, said: "Whilst the State of Nature report clearly shows the challenges we face in terms of winning the war on biodiversity loss, where we are working together to exert sustained effort we are winning battles.

"The recovery of the cirl bunting, a small, colourful farmland bird, which suffered catastrophic decline in the Twentieth Century because of changes to agriculture, is a great example of this, an example of 'total conservation': a problem was identified; solutions trialled and developed using sound science; an urgency to address the problem was established; and commitment was shown - from farmers, government agencies, conservationists, businesses and communities - to take action. We need to use this State of Nature report as a warning siren and take action now, before we lose all hope of passing on a healthier natural environment to the next generation."

Andrew Whitehouse, South West manager at Buglife said: "Cornwall and Devon support incredible wildlife riches, but the counties are not immune from the pressures that have affected our wildlife elsewhere.  Our South West Bees Project has shown that many of our bee species are struggling to survive in an increasingly degraded countryside. But there are some good news stories, Devon and Cornwall are national hotspots for oil beetles which can be seen around our coast in the spring, and there is enormous potential to help our wildlife recover."

Liam Creedon, of Butterfly Conservation, said: "The wild and windswept expanses of Exmoor and Dartmoor are not only amongst the most evocative places in the UK but they are also strongholds to some of our rarest butterflies. Butterfly Conservation's Two Moors Threatened Butterfly Project is improving habitat for the marsh fritillary, high brown fritillary and heath fritillary on these moors, to help restore and reconnect suitable habitat to provide sustainable populations for the future."

Dr Trevor Dines, of Plantlife, said: "An ancient wildflower meadow can be destroyed within a single morning and this quiet catastrophe has befallen more than 97 percent of our wildflower meadows and grasslands since the Second World War. Where there were once flowers at our feet there is now a factory floor, little more than green concrete. Ask any member of the public and I bet they'd want more of a balance, wildlife and production, not one instead of the other. For all the doom and gloom of these shocking statistics, our wildlife is resilient. If we provide plants and animals the right conditions they will come back from the brink, we just have to give them a chance."

Alex Raeder, of the National Trust in the South West, said: "This report is wake up call to everybody who loves nature and values the natural environment. We cannot sit on our hands and let our natural heritage slip away. Whilst some of our most important sites remain in reasonable condition it is clear that in the wider countryside, where most of us live, wildlife that was once common is being lost. We must create opportunities to bring the South West's birds, bees, butterflies and flowers back to our countryside, by working in partnership to create landscapes rich in nature."

As the UK Government and devolved administrations move forward in the light of the EU Referendum result, there is an opportunity to secure world leading protection for our species and restoration of our nature. Now is the time to make ambitious decisions and significant investment in nature to ensure year-on-year improvement to the health and protection of the UK's nature and environment for future generations.

The State of Nature 2016 UK report was launched by Sir David Attenborough and UK conservation and research organisations at the Royal Society in London on Wednesday, September 14, while separate events were held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Sir David Attenborough said: "The future of nature is under threat and we must work together; Governments, conservationists, businesses and individuals, to help it. Millions of people in the UK care very passionately about nature and the environment and I believe that we can work together to turn around the fortunes of wildlife."

In order to reduce the impact we are having on our wildlife, and to help struggling species, we needed to understand what's causing these declines. Using evidence from the last 50 years, experts have identified that significant and ongoing changes in agricultural practices are having the single biggest impact on nature.

The widespread decline of nature in the UK remains a serious problem to this day. For the first time scientists have uncovered how wildlife has fared in recent years. The report reveals that since 2002 more than half (53 per cent) of UK species studied have declined and there is little evidence to suggest that the rate of loss is slowing down.

To find out how you can do your bit to save UK wildlife 
Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

An iconic Devon landscape: Devon Wildlife Trust's Volehouse Moor nature reserve, North Devon. Photo copyright David Chamberlain (All rights reserved)

For a full copy of the State of Nature 2016 report

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

“WHAAM” - Westward Ho! & Appledore Music Showcase

“WHAAM Showcase” is Westward Ho! & Appledore’s new event presenting North Devon bands and singers performing in aid of the Royal National Life Institution's Appledore Lifeboat Station

On 28th September this first Music Showcase will feature some of the most innovative and talented musicians in North Devon. Presenting a broad spectrum of music from rock ’n roll bands to folksy bands and individual singers, this Showcase will be an exciting evening at one of the top entertainment venues in the area – The Pier House, Westward Ho!

The Mayor of Northam, Councillor Chris Leather will officially open WHAAM.

Acts will include Dogleg, Mark Jenkins, Jenna Witts, Dave Clinch, Nat’s Blanket, The Muddy Boots, Chris Millington, The Dambuskers, Gary Meades and The Rocking Good Knights.

There will also be a Grand Raffle in aid of the RNLI.

There will be a “surprise feature” before the main programme.

Local companies and organisations will be Sponsoring the Showcase and kindly donating prizes for the Raffle. To date:
  • Principal Sponsor - Robert Braddick of BRADDICKS LEISURE
  • Major Sponsors are Kitemare – Surf & Kiteshop, Rock Pool Cafe, The Co-operative Food, Cafe Italia Pizzeria, F. Heard Quality Meats Ltd and Johns of Appledore.
“North Devon has a first class reputation for being a centre of excellence for live music events.” said Showcase organisers, John Barton and Martin Chapple. “We’re excited to be a part of this and to be bringing a showcase of local musical talent to the wider public”.

WHAAM - Westward Ho! & Appledore Music Showcase
Doors open at 6.00pm and the entertainment will run continuously from 7.00pm to midnight with a short break at 9.00pm for the Grand Raffle.
All of this for only £5 a ticket! Children 12 and under FREE.
Admission will include a strip of raffle tickets.
Tickets will be on sale at the Delicadevon, 32 Nelson Road, Westward 'Ho! together with Johns of Appledore on the Quay and at the door of The Pier House Function Room. 
(All proceeds to the RNLI Appledore)
Details are available from 

Monday, 19 September 2016

New protected area proposed for Lyme Bay dolphins

Marine conservationists are calling for a new protected area for dolphins and seabirds in Lyme Bay.

Earlier this summer, Defra invited proposals for new Marine Conservation Zones to protect 'highly mobile marine species' - animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, and seabirds.

Devon Wildlife Trust wants to see legal protection for a 1055 sq km area of Lyme Bay which hosts important numbers of white beaked dolphin, common dolphin and harbour porpoise, along with significant records of minke whale and basking shark.

This area is also an important feeding ground for seabirds such as guillemot, razorbill and gannet; and for a nationally important population of Balearic shearwaters.

Dolphins and porpoises are often sited from Berry Head. Just a few miles offshore is an area where Lyme Bay's population of white beaked dolphins spend almost all of their lives - this is where they feed, breed and raise their young.

In Lyme Bay, pods of up to 200 white beaked dolphins have been recorded. Surveys carried out by the Dorset-based charity MarineLife since 2006 have identified distinct individuals.

However, since 2013 the number of sightings of new individuals has declined.

White beaked dolphins are most often seen in the deeper central waters of the Bay, four to fifteen miles east of Torbay, which support shoals of prey species sprat, cod and whiting.

Small fish are drawn to the area by the masses of plankton that feed on the nutrient-rich waters in this part of Lyme Bay. This whole ecosystem supports the larger animals, such as dolphins and seabirds, that thrive here. That's why The Wildlife Trusts want to see the whole area protected from damaging human activities.

White beaked dolphins are sensitive to sea surface temperature, thriving in waters cooler than 17 degrees. The species is very rarely present where sea surface temperatures are higher than 18 degrees.
As white beaked dolphins off western Europe move further north in response to increasing temperatures, the dolphin-friendly habitats of Lyme Bay will become increasingly important.

Large marine animals face a number of threats from industrial and recreational use of the seas. Some of these threats in Lyme Bay - habitat destruction, fisheries bycatch, collisions with vessels, acoustic and physical disturbance - could be managed for the benefit of marine wildlife by creating a Marine Conservation Zone.

Devon Wildlife Trust's Dan Smith said: "This area off Torbay is so important for dolphins and other large marine animals that we need to recognise the site as a whole - for everything from the plankton and the smaller fish that bring in the dolphins and the nutrient upwelling that provides the base for all this wildlife. Creating a Marine Conservation Zone here is about future-proofing the area to manage
any threats that arise. For example, the dolphins often feed where small fish cluster around submerged wrecks - these artificial habitats could be damaged by dredging, an activity that can be managed when a site has been designated an MCZ."

Of the 50 Marine Conservation Zones currently designated, none are for dolphins or other large marine animals. The third, and final, round of Marine Conservation Zone designation offers the first opportunity to create a protected area for the dolphins of Lyme Bay.

Devon Wildlife Trust has launched the Devon Dolphins campaign for people to pledge their support for protecting Devon's white beaked dolphins and other cetaceans. Dolphin fans can support the campaign at or when visiting Wembury Marine Centre, Seaton Jurassic and a range of other wildlife attractions in Devon.
White-beaked dolphins by Martin Kitching - Photo copyright Martin Kitching (All rights reserved)
 White-beaked dolphins by Martin Kitching - Photo copyright Martin Kitching (All rights reserved)
Photo showing area of 'Devon Dolphins' proposed MCZ ('official' name of MCZ likely  to be Lyme Bay Deeps.)
Photo showing area of 'Devon Dolphins' proposed MCZ ('official' name of MCZ likely
to be Lyme Bay Deeps.)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Exclusive 'Meet the Wildlife Film Crew' Event in Croyde

Dr Ted Oakes, Series Producer from the world famous BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol, will be hosting a screening of his film Tribes, Predators & Me - Crocodile People of New Guinea at Croyde's Deckchair Cinema on Saturday 24 September 2016. The film will be followed by an opportunity for the audience to meet some of the 'Tribes, Predators & Me' team, including Ted who produced the series, and find out more about their work and experiences with the crocodiles!

Ted, who has a long standing connection to North Devon was invited to host the event by local community film makers North Devon Moving Image (NDMI).  Amanda McCormack, Creative Director of NDMI, says "We initially approached Ted to be a judge for our North Devon Coast AONB Wild Shorts wildlife and environment film making competition. As a keen conservationist and fan of North Devon's natural beauty Ted jumped on board and kindly offered to host this exciting event to help us raise funds for our project."

In 'Crocodile People of New Guinea' the Tribes, Predators & Me team travel to Papua New Guinea to film the crocodile worshippers of the Sepik River. Crocodile hunters invited cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan  to join them catching adult crocodiles with their bare hands and he meets a tribe who believe a giant crocodile protects them from their human enemies.

Amanda adds "This is going to be a fascinating and fun evening, the bar will be open and Calaca Loca will be on hand to dish up some delicious Mexican street food.  Tickets are only £6 and £4 for under 18s and can be bought online from the North Devon Moving Image website."

All profits will be shared between NDMI's Wild Shorts project and Lynx Trust UK.

Booking is essential.  To find out more and to book a place visit: contact Amanda McCormack at or telephone 01271 860610.
Tribes, Predators & Me - Crocodile People of New Guinea - Photo copyright BBC Natural History Unit (All Rights Reserved)
 BBC Presenter, Gordon Buchanan with the Crocodile People of New Guinea

 Tribes, Predators & Me - Crocodile People of New Guinea - Photo copyright BBC Natural History Unit (All Rights Reserved)

Tribes, Predators & Me - Crocodile People of New Guinea - Photo copyright BBC Natural History Unit (All Rights Reserved)

Tribes, Predators & Me - Crocodile People of New Guinea - Photos copyright BBC Natural History Unit (All Rights Reserved)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Discovering Devon’s secretive night-time predator

A Devon-based project is aiming to shine a light on the night time lives of one of the county’s rarest nocturnal animals: the greater horseshoe bat.

During September a host of activities and events will help the public take a closer look at the mysterious lives of greater horseshoe bats.

This is the idea behind the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project’s first Bat Festival to be held in September. Events across the county will help people of all ages discover more about this secretive night-time predator and take part in its long term conservation. The festival is to be mix of walks, talks, surveys, and even a night-time bat-themed swim, all aimed at getting people interested in the lives of their local bats.

A full list of festival events and locations include:

3rd Kingsbridge Show Kingsbridge
3rd Saving Wildflowers practical conservation event East Devon
5th – 26th Bat Beacon exhibition Dartmouth
5th Research Survey Bat Blitz Buckfastleigh
8th Bat Trail walk Tamar Valley
9th Evening bat walk Donkey Sanctuary
9th Starry Night Bat Swim Buckfastleigh
13th Evening bat walk Braunton
14th Bat Beacon launch with walk Donkey Sanctuary
17th Bioblitz Croyde
17th Evening bat walk Croyde
22nd Evening bat walk Braunton
23rd Research Survey Bat Blitz Berry Head
23rd Bat talk Teignmouth
23rd Bat talk Dartmouth

The population of greater horseshoe bats has declined dramatically in the UK during the last century, mainly due to the expanding built environment and agricultural change. This trend has been mirrored across northern Europe, but Devon remains a stronghold for the large bat.

Now a new five-year project is now working to halt these declines. The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project is working with many local communities in Devon to secure the future of the species locally. The partnership project, involving 19 organisations led by Devon Wildlife Trust, is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Ed Parr Ferris, the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project’s manager said:
“Greater horseshoe bats are fascinating creatures. They are built to hunt and armed with sharp teeth which can dismember their prey very quickly. But don’t worry, moths, craneflies and beetles are on this predator’s menu, not people. In fact seeing one should be a cause for real celebration – they are rare and elusive creatures.”
Ed Parr Ferris continued:
“As with many predators, greater horseshoe numbers have shrunk sharply over recent decades, but where they survive it means the landscape is in good shape and able to support them. Having greater horseshoes in Devon is something we should all be proud of. That’s why we’re holding a festival. In part it’s an expression of local pride that these bats are still here.  I’d urge people to attend one of events during this festival and find out what they can do to help keep this amazing species alive and well locally.”

Amongst the festival’s many activities Ed and his team will be asking people to take part in surveys which will search for the bats as they fly around the Devon landscape. Volunteers will use special bat-detecting equipment issued by the project.

Ed Parr Ferris said:
“There are many gaps in our understanding of greater horseshoe bats, including simply where they are – being night-time flyers they are not easy to see! That’s why we need the public’s help with our surveys.”

The project is encouraging anyone in Devon to borrow a bat detector from local host centres and help to collect precious information on the bats. To take part in a survey, book a detector and find out more about the project people are being urged to get in touch either at one of the bat festival’s events or via the project’s website.

The festival’s full programme of events, together with booking details, is available from the project’s website<

Greater Horseshoe Bat - Photo copyright Phil Richardson (All Rights Reserved)
Greater Horseshoe Bat - Photo copyright Phil Richardson (All Rights Reserved)