Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Film Making Summer Schools. Unique Opportunity for Creative Kids in North Devon

Community film making organisation North Devon Moving Image (NDMI) will be running two film making summer schools for children and teenagers this coming August.

Creative Director of NDMI, Amanda McCormack is really excited to be providing this unique opportunity for youngsters in North Devon “There will be two week-long workshops in Instow, one for 11 to 15 year olds from 7th-11th August and the other for ages 6 to 11 from 14th-18th August .” says Amanda “The younger group will be creating a fun Creature Comforts style stop motion film and the older group will be given a surprise “prop box” to inspire the story for their short film.”

To maximise the benefit for each participant there are only six places available on each course and the young film makers will be supported by two workshop facilitators. The participation fee is £150 per child and there is a sibling discount available. All the details are on the North Devon Moving Image website  or you can telephone Amanda McCormack on 01271 860610 for more information.

1. Film Making Summer School Ages 11-15
Monday 7th August to Friday 11th August 2017 - 11am to 3pm
​ Venue: St John's Church Room, Rectory Lane, Instow EX39 4LU

2. Animation Summer School Ages 6-11
Monday 14th August to Friday 18th August 2017 - ​9am to 1pm
​Venue: St John's Church Room, Rectory Lane, Instow EX39 4LU

Applications for the Summer Schools are now open.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Devon fish paying high price for Scottish salmon farms

A Devon-based wildlife charity is calling for immediate action to control a fishing practice which is leading to thousands of local fish – from a family of fish known as wrasse - being removed from around the coast of Devon. The fish are being transported alive to Scottish salmon farms where they are being used as a ‘natural’ control against parasites.

Today Devon Wildlife Trust is calling for a ban on the live capture of the fish from Devon’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)* – places which have been recognised for the richness of their marine nature. The Trust is requesting people in Devon to voice their opposition by signing an on-line petition which asks for action to be taken by the county’s MPs.

The removal of live wrasse for Scottish fish farms is thought to be a relatively new practice. Until now wrasse have not been commercially fished in Devon, however, demand from Scotland for parasite control has meant that five species are now being targeted. These include: corkwing, ballan, goldsinney, cuckoo, and rock cook wrasse.

Recently limited controls on Devon’s wrasse fishery have been implemented by the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA), but Devon Wildlife Trust believes that these do not go far enough. It points to a similar wrasse fishery which took place in 2015 in Dorset. This saw 57,000 of the fish taken during just one 18-week period in an area between Lulworth and Weymouth. Now the fear is that a similar operation is underway in Devon.

Devon Wildlife Trust is concerned about the impact this will have on local wrasse populations and the wider marine environment. The charity’s Director of Conservation and Development, Peter Burgess said:

“We’re calling for an immediate stop to the practice of removing live fish from Devon’s MPAs to satisfy the needs of Scottish fish farms. This is a very destructive fishery. Mortality rates among the wrasse are often high - many of them do not survive the process of capture, storage and transportation they are put through.”

“Wrasse are long-lived and highly territorial fish, so the removal of large numbers along the Devon coast will severely disrupt their populations – it could take decades for them to recover.”

Peter Burgess added:

“Nobody yet knows what impacts wholescale removal of wrasse will have on our fragile marine reef ecosystems and the natural balance could be thrown into chaos. This could be devastating for not only the wrasse but habitats and species which depend on them for their survival.”

“The recent moves by the Devon IFCA to partially control the fishery are an acknowledgement of the problem but don’t go nearly far enough to offering a solution. It’s vital that we exercise the precautionary principle and halt the capture and removal of wrasse from our most precious marine environments before long term damage is done.”

Devon Wildlife Trust has evidence that as many as 480 baited traps, known as pots, could be deployed around the county’s coastlines. There are currently no restrictions on where the pots can be placed. As wrasse live on rocky reefs close to shore this means that much of the fishing activity could take place within Devon’s most treasured and protected ‘in-shore’ marine environments, places which include Plymouth Sound Special Area of Conservation and Wembury Voluntary Marine Conservation Area.

Devon’s wrasse are being removed to meet demand from salmon fish farms in Scotland. Wrasse are used as ‘cleaner fish’ helping fish farms by feeding on the sea lice that infest captive salmon and which slow their growth. In the past chemical controls have been used against the lice. However, in recent years the lice have developed resistance to these chemicals and salmon producers have instead turned to the use of ‘natural’ controls in the shape of wrasse and other fish.

Devon Wildlife Trust’s Peter Burgess encouraged people to support the charity’s call for a stop to the mass removal of wrasse for the Scottish salmon industry. He said:

“Devon wrasse populations are being threatened to solve the problems caused by commercial salmon fish farms hundreds of miles away in Scotland. Once commercially viable stocks of wrasse are exhausted from Plymouth our fear is this practice could move to ports throughout the South West.

There are only limited controls on this new fishery and little understanding of its longer term impacts on the health of this fascinating native species and the fragile reef environments the wrasse help to sustain. This is why we’re asking the people of Devon to help us stop the removal of thousands of wrasse from the county’s Marine Protected Areas by signing our on-line petition.”

Details on Devon Wildlife Trust’s wrasse petition can be found at
Corkwing Wrasse Photo copyright Paul Naylor/ (All Rights Reserved)
Corkwing Wrasse Photo: Paul Naylor/ (All Rights Reserved)
Ballan Wrasse. Photo copyright Paul Naylor/ (All Rights Reserved)
Ballan Wrasse. Photo: Paul Naylor/ (All Rights Reserved)
Cuckoo Wrasse. Photo copyright Paul Naylor/ (All Rights Reserved)
Cuckoo Wrasse. Photo: Paul Naylor/
Devon Wildlife Trust’s Peter Burgess
  Devon Wildlife Trust’s Peter Burgess
Marine Protected Areas are “home to some of the most biologically diverse habitats and species in Europe” and are identified as such by the Joint Nature Conservation Council (JNCC), the public body that advises the UK Government and devolved administrations on UK-wide and international nature conservation.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

‘Bat cam’ provides unique view of rare animals

Viewers of a very different kind of reality TV will be going batty in the coming weeks. People can tune into a live webcam of a greater horseshoe bat roost to see hundreds of the rare animals appearing on screen at one time.

The bat cam is beaming live pictures around the world from an undisclosed greater horseshoe bat roost in South Devon. The camera was specially installed as part of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project – a 5 year partnership project made possible by National Lottery players through a £785,500 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, led by Devon Wildlife Trust, which is working towards sustaining Devon’s population of these threatened nocturnal animals.

Ruth Testa, Project Manager, of the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project said:
‘The bat cam allows everyone to see what goes on inside a bat roost – something that is not normally possible. By logging on to our website ( and watching the live footage, people can get a unique and intimate view into the lives of these wonderful animals. You can also watch footage of some of our teams favourite moments from previous years.’

Colin Morris, Nature Reserves Manager for The Vincent Wildlife Trust which owns and manages the site and is a partner in the project, said:
‘The bats are very active at the moment - people should keep their eyes peeled as the female greater horseshoe bats are getting ready to give birth. While difficult to see during daytime, the newborn pups are left on their own once the adults go out to hunt at night. The coming weeks should see some drama as a succession of baby bats appear on screen!’

Greater horseshoe bats have seen their numbers plummet by over 90% in the last 100 years. Today Devon remains a stronghold of the endangered species with about a third of the UK population thought to be surviving in the county.

The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project hopes to reverse the species’ decline. Over the coming years it will continue to work with local landowners, farmers and communities across Devon ensuring that Devon remains a place which offers greater horseshoe bats the room to live and flourish.

Ruth Testa said:
‘Devon is really important for this amazing bat, as we have retained some of the landscape which is so important to them. Small, hedge-lined fields, grazed by cattle, with pockets of woodland provide the food that they need to sustain their young.’

Members of the public can help us improve our scientific knowledge of bats by taking part in the Devon Bat Survey. During the summer months you can borrow an SM4 bat detector for 4 days from 20 locations across Devon through our online booking service

Devon Horseshoe Bat Project Webcam
A Greater Horseshoe Bat – Photo copyright Michael Symes (All Rights Reserved)