March 2024 Newsletter

Spring is bursting out all around us, and we can start to look forward to some lighter evenings ahead. It is always lovely to be able to stop and catch a breath at this time of year, listening to the birdsong as it begins to crescendo over the next few months. Many of us are already out and about, busy planning events, projects and surveys for the upcoming season. We look forward to supporting you in anyway we can and hearing about the success stories in your parishes.

In this months newsletter:

Fabulous Hedgerows!

We had an inspiring zoom meeting with ecologist, farm advisor and WW Elliot Fairs, alongside the super enthusiastic Megan Gimber, hedge specialist at the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).

With nearly fifty people joining us for the talk it proved to be a really successful event. Megan talked through all the benefits of hedges, the structure of a good hedge, how to establish and manage hedgerows, and finally introduced us to the PTES Healthy Hedge survey and app. Elliot then updated us on the new Sustainable Farming Incentives (SFIs) which farmers and landowners can apply for; encouraging better hedgerow management for biodiversity and carbon storage. To catch up with this Zoom click here. It is well worth a watch!

Following the talk we ran two practical hedge surveying sessions at Deer Park Farm, with 21 wardens attending to learn more about surveying using the PTES app. We hope that these wardens will now feel confident to approach local landowners & farmers to discuss hedgerow SFIs and demonstrate how to survey or conduct the surveys themselves. We feel this could be a great way for wardens to make a very positive impact within their parishes for wildlife whilst also supporting farmers. Thank you so much to all those who came along; we look forward to hearing about how you get on.

Wildlife Warden Spring Celebration!

We are really excited to announce that we will be having a big event on Sunday 28th April, at St Mary’s Church Hall, Dawlish Warren. We’d love to have as many wildlife wardens as possible join us, and feel free to bring along your partner or best friends too! It will be a fun and uplifting day for us all; celebrating our wonderful group and all it has achieved.

We have several fantastic speakers lined up for the day, including Fiona Mathews and Tim Kendall, whose book “Black Ops and Beaver Bombing: Adventures with Britain’s Wild Mammals” has had fabulous reviews. They are hilarious speakers, with a unique ability to deliver a serious message in a truly funny and engaging way.

The day will include homemade soup and cakes, a walk in the nature reserve and lots of opportunities to chat and idea share with other wildlife wardens. Please let me know whether you will be able to come along. Lift sharing will be arranged for the day.

We hope to see you there!

Get Involved with County Wildlife Sites

County Wildlife Sites are fantastic! We have a trusty band of wildlife wardens, who have been trained by Devon Biodiversity Record Centre (DBRC), and are able to carry out botanical surveying at new sites but we would love for more wardens to be involved! Last year, groups and individual wardens surveyed 10 sites, of which 6 were designated as CWSs. DBRC had a total of 27 sites designated this year and so for us to have been involved in 6 of these is a really wonderful achievement for the group.

Why would you want to be involved?

  • You get to see some beautiful places that you wouldn’t normally have access to.
  • You are an important part of the process in getting these special sites recognised, which is especially significant for planning and development.
  • You learn so much about species ID when you are out with a group – I know I have!
  • It’s lots fun!

How can you be involved?

  • Come to the Woodland Survey Training with Jack Rivers from DBRC on Thursday 18th April at Ausewell Wood. You will learn how the surveys are conducted, the CWS criteria and about report writing. Please don’t feel like you won’t have the knowledge or experience for the session – we all learn together and will often go out in groups to survey sites, so there is always support.
  • Come along to unconfirmed sites to survey with a group of wardens: You don’t have to have survey experience to come but you will learn as we go. Let me know if you would like to be on the email list.
  • Finding and speaking to local landowners: If you are not keen on surveys then another way you could be extremely helpful is by contacting local landowners of unconfirmed sites so that we can get permission to survey. Wardens with local knowledge and connections can be so useful for this. Please get in touch if you would be interested in getting involved in this aspect.

Call to ActionParish Councils Duty to Biodiversity

As many of you are aware, public authorities, including town and parish councils, have a legal duty under the Environment Act 2021 to agree on actions to conserve and enhance biodiversity.

The government guidance, issued in May last year, gave a deadline of 1st January 2024, for councils to look at what action they could take and decide policies and objectives soon after that. (It should be noted that Town and Parish councils are not obliged to publish a report on their actions unlike other public authorities).

We know that lots of wardens have already reached out to their local parish and town councils to help them create their Biodiversity Policy, but there are still many councils that need to put this on their agenda. We would really like to help support wardens in approaching their councils to get this conversation started.

Our plan is to create a template letter, that you can forward to your parish or town councillors. We will try and make it as upbeat and positive as we can with the aim to promote action but in a supportive and friendly way.

We will also create a set of template documents, which you could take along to a council meeting and show case studies of actions other wardens have been taking in their parishes that could be applied to yours. This is where the ask for help comes!

We are looking for wardens to help us create these documents using your experiences in your parish. Please look out for my email in which I will include further details and a template to fill in. This should not take you too long and doesn’t have to be word-perfect; as long as we have the information and some pictures, we can do the rest! It would be fantastic to get a great resource together for us all to use.

Thank you!

Devon Wildlife Trust Equipment List

The Devon Wilder Communities team has a variety of equipment that they are happy for community groups and wardens to access in order to run events and surveys. The equipment would need to be collected and returned to their offices at Cricklepit Mill, Exeter. This is a great free resource, but make sure you book anything you want ASAP!

Examples of what they have on offer are mammal footprint tubes, insect pots, sweep nets, bat detectors, trail cameras …….

Please email me if you would like the full list of equipment and booking form sent to you.

Dates for your Diary

Date Event
25th March or 10th AprilWoodland plant ID walk at Deer Park Farm
18th AprilCounty Wildlife Site (CWS) Woodland Survey Training at Ausewell Wood with DBRC
23rd or 24th AprilCWS survey of Kennick reservoir woodland
28th April Spring Celebration at St Mary’s Church hall, Dawlish Warren – exciting speakers, walk, lunch and meet with other wardens
15th May County Wildlife Site (CWS) Grassland Survey Training with DBRC, venue to be confirmed
7th-9th JuneDawlish Turn the Tide Festival
22th – 29th JuneACT with the Arts Festival
Opening ceremony 22th
Closing ceremony 29th
If you are interested in joining us for an event please email me.

Round Up of Wildlife Warden Activity Across Teignbridge

Abbotskerswell The recent Abbwild meeting discussed managing verges and potentially surveying hedgerows within the parish. WW Emily has been involved in organising a group to dig up invasive winter heliotrope from the wildflower patch, as well as designing and displaying signs encouraging people to turn off their engines while waiting by the school.

Ashburton Welcome to new WW Elaine!

Ashton WW Shira has been involved in setting up a box in the Village Hall Community Orchard which contains laminated sheets with ideas for play using natural objects plus some wildlife ID books, magnifiers, nature related poetry and stone painted ladybirds for children to hunt. The hope is that this will be enjoyed by children and parents who can play in a natural setting without the need for manufactured play equipment. 

Bickington Welcome to new WW Michael!

Chudleigh With 6 WWs, all members of Chudleigh Wild, the two go hand in hand. They have had a busy winter; carrying out habitat work in the Oldway Batfields Reserve, planning an acceptable management regime for Lawn Drive verges, finishing the
Phone Box Hub, and sorting out talks for the spring. The group is always trying to raise awareness of environmental concerns and to keep an eye on developments that may impact the town, alongside encouraging local people to get involved in looking after the wildlife in Chudleigh. Although the rain has held up completion of the Phone Box hub, WW Peter Warn has almost completed the work (a huge undertaking) whilst volunteer, Jonathon Valentine fitted some sturdy shelves for displays and leaflets, a book swap and a seed/plant swap. The hub will be stocked with information about wildlife, wildlife gardening, maps and worksheets for the nature trail as well as wildlife books to borrow. WWs and Chudleigh Wild volunteers continue to carry out survey work: Riverfly counts, orchid counts, and surveys for potential County Wildlife Sites.

Dawlish WWs Ric and Jo, alongside others, have a plot of land in Dawlish Water, in which they are planting native woodland, creating a community orchard and rewilding areas. There are now many apples, pears and plums planted, as well as the start of a cherry avenue. 

WWs Scott and Dave are both on the town council’s Climate Declaration Working Group and are involved in creating the Dawlish Biodiversity Action Plan.

Dave, Scott, and Carolyn Ballard from Sustainable Dawlish have successfully won a bid to run ‘Our Green Futures,’ a project funded by Transition Together and the National Lottery. The project lasts until February 2025 with an aim to inspire ideas and provide support to local community groups to meet the dual challenge of climate and ecological emergencies. Meetings will be held across Dawlish to include a wide range of local people, both raising awareness and encouraging them to take action

There are also plans to hold a seed swap event on 11th May so please contact Scott for further details. 

WW Gill has started planting snowdrops and daffodils in an area of the Dawlish Municipal Cemetery after having gained permission from TDC.

Plans continue for the Dawlish Turn the Tide Festival in June, (see poster below). 

Dunsford Welcome to new WW Larissa! WW Julia continues to organise and write notes for the regular monthly wildlife meetings in the Teign Valley. Julia and Jess also ran a successful DWT tree hub at the beginning of February. 

Exminster At the end of January a village Wassail was held in the community orchard with dancing, singing and apple cake. Perfect! The apple trees have been mulched and a new hedgehog box sited. A meeting was had with Kelvin Boot, an ecologist who helps advise groups on wildlife management of churchyards. He will be providing a report of the site with lots of new ideas for wildlife friendly management. I joined WW Jeremy for his presentation at the full parish meeting on 11th March. As the guest speaker, Jeremy gave a great update of work being done across the parish, discussed future projects and brought up the PCs duty regarding biodiversity. Small packets of wildflower seeds were handed out during the meeting.

Another exciting development in Exminster has been the installation of swift nesting boxes in the tower of St Martin’s church. Jerry Horn from the organisation ‘Action for Swifts’, built and installed the boxes after the Exminster team facilitated the necessary approvals with the church last year. An acoustic lure to attract birds will be switched on in April, and the team will be keeping a close eye out for activity during the spring and summer months. Fingers crossed!

Hennock WWs Becky and Chris are very busy involved with the Parish Council Climate and Sustainability Group which Chris chairs. He is writing monthly newsletters for the group with updates of local events and projects. They recently ran a successful tree hub, with over 400 tree saplings were shared out and have great plans to start an initiative around No Mow May within the parish this month.

Ideford WWs have prompted their Parish Council to produce a Biodiversity Plan, as required by the Environment Act, 2021. They are working with two Council members to produce a draft plan for approval by the full Council.

Ilsington WWs Sheree and Linda have arranged a talk for residents in the village hall with Alistair Whybrow to talk about swifts and highlight the swift boxes that are found around in the village. Having secured TDC funding, they have also started planting at Shapley Green in Liverton, along with WW Dawn. Dawn has also been out and about surveying a local woodland for ferns, mosses and lichens.

Kingskerswell WW George has introduced himself to the Kingskerswell Parish Council and will be assisting them in creating a draft Biodiversity Policy. Working alongside a parish councillor he also has plans to start a new wildflower area along the Torquay Road.

Moretonhampstead Welcome to new WW Carey!

Newton Abbot Welcome to new WW Chloe! WW Eloise has met with one of the local churches, and there is discussion about creating a wildlife friendly garden area in place of the current patio – the plan is in its infancy! Eloise was also contacted by a local resident with photos of a possible Greater Crested Newt in their garden which she is following up in view of the scale of works currently being undertaken at Bradley Lane Mills.  

North Bovey WW Susan I has launched her new village hedgehog survey and is poised for sightings when the weather warms up. Four homemade hedgehog boxes were distributed before winter, and she hopes to do more this year. Susan continues to do monthly river water quality surveys and keeps a diary of interesting sightings around the parish. Susan is also due to meet with the PC next month and plans to run a meeting to inform local people about what is going on in the parish.

Shaldon WW Paul continues to provide monthly articles for the Parish Council newsletters. We had a recent Zoom meeting with Paul to chat through how he could approach the council and raise the issue of a biodiversity policy. We are hoping our upcoming resources will help Paul with this.

Teignmouth WW Catherine has been surveying blackthorn areas in Mules park for Brown Hairstreak butterfly eggs. Sadly, no eggs found.

ACT with the Arts Festival

With an impressive line-up taking shape, this event promises to be a good one and very well worth attending or getting involved. Website details and the line-up will gradually emerge over the next few months. In the meantime, if you’re interested in participating, please reach out to Paul Wynter via email.

ACTs Public Engagement Group

ACT would love to get to as many local parish events as possible but we do not always hear about them. Please could you either get in touch with Pauline or Vicky if there is a parish event you think ACT and the Wildlife Wardens could come along to.

ACT have also asked that any events that WWs are running could be popped onto the ACT website Events Area please.

Please click on “Tell us about your event” in the first box, and follow the link. 

Thank you to everyone for your continued support, time and fabulous work for nature this month. We love hearing about what you have been up to in your parish, so please keep your updates coming!

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