August 2022 Newsletter

Teignbridge Wildlife Warden Newsletter

August 2022

Hi all,

It’s coming to the end of summer; migratory birds are massing in large numbers before they make the long journey back to Africa, and berries and nuts can be seen on trees. But this is not a normal year and some autumn spectacles have started early. Leaves, seeds and nuts are already dropping from trees as a result of the prolonged drought. Usually, the shedding of leaves is a slow process, as trees break down and recycle chlorophyll. However, some trees haven’t had chance to do this, because they have shed their leaves early to conserve water. I went to Fingle Woods recently and was shocked at how many trees had brown, shrivelled leaves. Young trees, smaller species (such as elder and spindle) and those growing on thin soil seem to me to be most affected. Berries are ripening early and seeds and nuts are already dropping in an attempt, by trees, to save energy. The Woodland Trust records seasonal changes and, this year, received its earliest ever record of ripe blackberries (28th June). Will there be enough food for wildlife later in the year? Some people have noticed fewer nuts and berries (although, this seems to vary between sites), flowers have produced less nectar and worms and certain invertebrates are harder to find. Low water levels mean that there is less habitat for species that live in and around freshwater habitats. Reduced water flow in rivers and higher than usual water temperatures are also an issue. Less food and water will make survival more difficult for many species. That said, one exceptionally dry and hot year won’t necessarily spell complete disaster for our wildlife, but populations may struggle if this becomes a common occurrence. I have to say that I am looking forward to the rain that has been forecasted over the next week!

So, what can we do to help wildlife?
Provide water sources, food and refuge for garden wildlife.
Make your own compost to improve the health of soil in your garden. This will make plants more resilient and will increase the moisture holding capacity of soil.
Reduce your water consumption to protect our rivers. 
– Reduce your carbon footprint. Start off by using ACT’s Carbon Footprint Tracker, and find out about our Carbon Cutters Scheme.
Brown leaves at Fingle Woods
A pair of blue-tailed damselflies mating at Stover Country Park. Many thanks to Dave Smallshire for taking a group of 13 Wildlife Wardens on such an interesting and informative walk! We were lucky to see more than 10 species of dragonfly and damselfly. Stover is a dragonfly hotspot, and 24 species have been recorded since 1974! Thanks to Dave Hutton for taking such beautiful photos like this one.
Finlay’s student placement
Finlay Heppell, a student from Bournemouth University, worked with several Wildlife Wardens over the summer as part of his student placement with ACT. Here is a piece that Finlay wrote about his experiences.
Helping nature to thrive at Trusham Churchyard
Wildlife Warden, Helen Harding, has been working hard with her local church council to improve Trusham Churchyard for wildlife and to survey the species that can be found there. Helen described what she has been doing as a slow pilgrimage towards hope and has written an inspiring article about it that you can read here.
The Larks Ascending
Audrey Compton manages some of her fields in a way that supports skylarks, which are sadly declining nationwide due to modern agricultural practices. Here is a piece that Audrey wrote about how she and John Whetman are supporting them at Deer Park Farm!
Exe Estuary Stakeholder Forum 2022
The annual forum is taking place on Tuesday the 6th of September at 6pm. It is an opportunity for local people with an interest in the Exe Estuary to discuss their views and hear about management on the estuary. You have until the 4th of September to register and can do so here. Here is an agenda.
Community rewilding days at Embercombe
Find out more and book onto sessions here. All sessions are free to attend.
Dam Removal Europe’s Barrier Tracker Campaign 2022
There is a citizen science app that you can use to record man made barriers across rivers. This data will be used to create the first assessment of river connectivity across Europe and to highlight where restoration is most needed.
Petition to ask the government not to remove the Habitats Regulations
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, wants to remove the Habitats Regulations to ‘simplify the planning process’. The Habitats Regulations implement the Habitats Directive, which is a European law that protects nearly 900 wildlife sites (Natura 2000) in the UK, and provides greater protection than our domestic designations (SSSIs). You can read more about this here, and can sign this petition calling for the government not to do this.
Current projects
Here is an overview of some of the wonderful things that you have been up to.
You can listen to Emily Marbaix’s latest podcasts here!
Bovey Tracey
Janet Miller and Ann Sullivan  held a stand at the Garden Show in Bovey Tracey. They spoke about the WW Scheme, and the public were very interested to find out about the wildlife that can be found in the parish. Janet and Ann have continued to volunteer at Yarner Wood where they have led guided walks and are surveying dormice.
Bridford Wildlife Wardens organised a wildlife gardening competition, which attracted 15 entries ranging from courtyard gardens to expansive wildflower meadows! An informal presentation was held for participants and everyone who entered was given a certificate.
Chudleigh Wild hosted ‘Open Gardens’ and twelve gardens were open to the public, including the primary school which has a wildflower area and pond. They held their annual ‘Swift Night’ and had a record count! Chudleigh Wild also hosted two bat evenings for local people and Wildlife Wardens were invited. The highlight, for me, was seeing a greater horseshoe bat up close. Sue Smallshire also kindly demonstrated small mammal trapping to a group of Wildlife Wardens and we caught a wood mouse and a common shrew!

College Ward
Christine Callard has been working with Alistair Whybrow (a Kingsteignton WW who also leads Kingsteignton Swifts) to install swift boxes in the bell tower of St.Mary’s Church. They are waiting for approval from the Diocese of Exeter. Chris is continuing to sow wildflower seed at St.Mary’s Churchyard and at Ogwell Cross Cemetery.
Samuel Gray, who is doing a student placement with Bridford Wildlife Wardens, visited Dunsford Churchyard and surveyed moths with local Wildlife Wardens. 70 species were recorded! Julia Kirkland has been writing monthly articles for her parish magazine where she promoted Devon Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Award, and wrote about species to look out for in August.
Linda Corkerton asked villagers in Liverton to send her sightings of hedgehogs in the village as well as information about existing hedgehog highways. Linda had a wonderful response from people, and records were submitted to iRecord and PTES’s Hedgehog Street. Linda is also monitoring water quality through the Westcountry CSI, and has signed up to do Riverfly surveys for the River Teign Restoration Project. She is also in discussion with her parish council about managing verges for wildflowers.
Kingsteignton Wild voted for the winner of their nature trail sticker/logo competition. They held a stall at Rydon School Summer Fair where they had information about the nature trail and how to make bug hotels. Alistair Whybrow had a stall in Newton Abbot as part of Swift Awareness Week. Kingsteignton Wild have been offered funding from SWW Neighbourhood Fund! They now have 179 members on their Facebook Group.
Paul Havemann wrote an article for the parish magazine about how to help wildlife during the heatwave.
Teignmouth (project in Dawlish)
Marije Zwager helped TDC ranger, John Steward, to count the size and number of the endangered small-flowered catchfly at Dawlish Country Park (DCP). This species had previously been sown there with seed from the Kew Millennium Seedbank as part of the Back from the Brink project. After 5 long hours, they counted 380 specimens! Marije also helped with the annual wildflower survey at DCP and was able to add 30 new species to last year’s list, including common fumitory, wild basil and common fleabane!

County Wildlife Site Surveys
Wildlife Wardens have worked together across Teignbridge to survey several Unconfirmed Wildlife Sites. These are sites that have been noted as potentially special for wildlife, but have never been properly surveyed. Reports on these surveys have been sent to the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre. If these sites meet criteria, they will be designated as County Wildlife Sites, which gives them recognition and some protection from development. This project will be ongoing and surveys will recommence next spring when plant species are more visible.

I included several articles in this newsletter that were written by other people. If you have written articles that you would like me to include in future newsletters, please do send them to me!

Best wishes,

Flavio (ACT’s Wildlife Warden Coordinator)

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