May 2024 Newsletter

Orange Tip Butterfly (photo credit David Turrell)

Wow! We have been so busy for the past few months! With a very wet, cold and slow start to spring this year we have all been dodging showers and switching between wet weather gear and sunscreen! Everything feels like it is in full swing now though – so nice to see the swallows and swifts back, birds nesting and insects finally making more of an appearance! There has been lots to pack into this newsletter so apologies if it a bit long!

In this months newsletter:

Spring Celebration

At the end of April, over 50 of us gathered at Dawlish Warren for a full-day event to celebrate the achievements of the wildlife warden scheme. It was a wonderful opportunity to listen to some fantastic speakers, share ideas and reconnect with friends.

Tim Kendall and Fiona Mathews gave an fun and insightful talk about mammals. We learned about a thriving water vole population in urban Glasgow, parachuting beavers, and their ongoing quest to glimpse the elusive pine marten—not just its scat! Cath Jeffs, the Devon Wildlife Trust Wildcat project officer, then painted a vivid picture of the elusive wildcat and how they might once again live alongside us. Cath shared recent video footage of her encounters with wildcats, which was fascinating to watch.

During our delicious homemade lunch, we had the chance to sit at topic-focused tables, allowing wardens to exchange ideas and information on various subjects. We rarely get the chance for face-to-face discussions between wardens in different parishes, so it was great to see so many people actively sharing their experiences.

After lunch, some of us took a gentle stroll in the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve to observe the rare plant species, while another group visited the Dawlish Countryside Park, with Teignbridge Ranger Sian Avon, to learn about the site management for both wildlife and people

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and made this event so wonderful, and also to everyone who helped in so many ways! We couldn’t have done it without you!

Woodland Plant ID Training

On some cold, damp, and soggy days in April, several woodland plant ID sessions were held at Deer Park Farm. Despite the challenging weather, the hardy bunch of plant enthusiasts braved the conditions and were rewarded by finding twenty ancient woodland indicator species within the narrow strip of woodland on the farm. We all know the joy these beautiful treasures can bring us, even on the murkiest of days!

County Wildlife Site Survey Training

Jack Rivers from the Devon Biodiversity Record Centre has run several training sessions recently for Wildlife Wardens. These sessions have focused on the survey methods DBRC use to assess sites in order that they can potentially be designated as a County Wildlife Site. A woodland session was held at Ausewell Woods near Ashburton, followed by grassland survey training at Spara meadow in Lower Ashton this week.

With our growing team of Wildlife Wardens now well-trained for survey work, our confidence and knowledge continues to improve with each outing. Teams have already surveyed multiple sites this year, including two woodlands, several orchards, and a grassland site, with more scheduled for the coming months.

If you’re interested in joining us for future surveys, whether you’ve attended training sessions or simply have an interest, let me know. It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from experienced wardens and explore some stunning yet typically inaccessible sites.

Wray Valley Trail Survey

Rachel, our Wildlife Warden in Lustleigh, frequently uses the walking and biking trail that connects Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead along an old, disused railway line. It has become obvious to her that the trail has become an important wildlife corridor alongside it’s benefits for people. Rachel was keen to bring awareness to this so management of the trail can be done in a way to best enhance wildlife habitats while maintaining user-friendliness for bikers and walkers.

We were enthusiastic about supporting Rachel’s initiative and recognized the need to document the trail’s species and habitats to raise awareness of the wonderful stuff found there! In late April, a team of ten wildlife wardens set out from each end of the trail, compiling species lists. We were thrilled by the diverse plant life, documenting around 150 species!

We anticipate that this initial survey will spark some discussions aimed at managing the trail in order to conserve and improve its biodiversity whilst ensuring enjoyment and accessibility for all users—both human and wildlife alike. Thank you to everyone who came along on the day and we look forward to revisiting the trail and expanding our list further during the summer.

Meet Your Wildlife Wardens

Have you considered running a “Meet Your Wildlife Wardens” drop in session for your parish?

Hosting a drop-in event is a fantastic way to engage with your community, allowing people to come along, learn more about their parish wardens, what you’re doing, and perhaps even get involved.

The BIG GREEN WEEK is approaching from 8th to 16th June, which could provide a great opportunity to connect with your community or even collaborate with other wildlife groups in your parish to share ideas. For parishes with only one warden, please do contact the wider warden network for support (using GroupIO or our WhatsApp chat).

Pearl-bordered fritillary (Photo credit: David Turrell)

Leading Volunteers, Running Events and WW Stands

Thanks to the wardens who came to our most recent ‘Leading Volunteers and Events’ training which we ran in April. The training focuses on how to be well prepared and lead events safely, ensuring everyone has a good time!

ACT provides public liability insurance to cover Wildlife Wardens leading events, running stands at village fetes, and conducting habitat management with volunteers however, you must undergo this additional training and complete the practice risk assessment forms BEFORE you are covered! Please get in touch if you are interested in this training.

Also, please be aware that our public liability insurance ONLY covers working with hand tools currently; you will not be covered if you are using power tools.

Book Recommendation

Thank you to Marije for sharing this book recommendation with us.

“I recommend this book because it dispels the commonly held belief that animals perceive the world with the same senses as humans. 

A better understanding of their unique experience not only enriches our view of the animal kingdom, it is essential for effective species conservation and habitat restoration.”

I hope lots of you can come along to this evening talk and find out more about this project; how you can get involved as a warden and how the project could support you in your parish.

Dates for your Diary

Date Event
3rd June
WW and 4Fs meeting with “Connecting People and Landscapes” team, Courtenay Centre, Newton Abbot
5th June
Dragonfly and Pond ID Training and species data collection, near Lower Ashton
8th/9th JuneDawlish Turn the Tide Festival
18th, 20th OR 26th JuneGrasses ID training with Grassland Management – please email me your preferred date/s and whether AM/PM/middle of the day is best for you
22th – 29th JuneACT with the Arts Festival
Opening ceremony 22th
Closing ceremony 29th
22nd June“Nature on your Doorstep” at the Courtenay Centre, Newton Abbot with Wildlife Warden stand
13th July
10 AM
Butterflies and Day-flying Moths with Peter Hurst, Butterfly Conservation
If you are interested in joining us for an event please email me.

Round Up of Wildlife Warden Activity Across Teignbridge

Ashburton New WW Elaine has already jumped in to her warden role and will be one of the experts on a wildlife gardening panel discussion, at the Ashburton Arts Centre in June. This event is ahead of the Ashburton Wildlife Gardening Weekend on the 15th and 16th of June. We look forward to hearing how it goes!

Ashton WW Shira wrote a great piece for her local magazine about invasive species and their impacts on native plants and biodiversity. She has been surprised by how many people have read it and started taking action locally. The article covers three-cornered leek, Himalayan balsam, skunk cabbage, and gunnera, looking at their origins and how to manage them. The full article is available on our shared drive for you to read or use for your own parish magazine. If you need access to the shared folder, please email me.

Shira is also one of our County Wildlife Site champions, having participated in several surveys this year and identifying new potential sites in her area. She also kindly allowed wardens to visit her beautiful meadow for our DBRC grassland training last week. If you can visit her open meadow in June, I highly recommend it. Thank you, Shira!

Bovey Tracey WWs recently held a collaborative meeting to plan for the upcoming Big Green Week in the town and a possible WW stand at the event. Additionally, WW Janet has been in discussion with a local church, supporting their progress in the churchyard. Meanwhile, WW David has lead another walk at NT Parke looking at the Marsh orchids.

Bridford WW warden Lucy continues to monitor local planning in the area, ensuring that wildlife considerations are prioritized. We greatly value her dedication with this. Lucy is also compiling a document about hedgerows to share with her parish council, aiming to educate them on the benefits of slightly messier hedges!

Buckfastleigh WW Iso has been very busy organizing a bioblitz for Holy Brook Meadow, an area she has been involved with for many years. If anyone is interested in helping Iso on the 4th or 5th of June, please get in touch.

Chudleigh The Chudleigh Wild team, including wardens Sue, Tess, and Val, have been involved in the annual count of rare orchids on the A38 verges. This survey data is shared with DCC and Highways England to ensure proper management. Two evening bat surveys confirmed that Greater Horseshoe bats continue to navigate past new developments to reach pasture at the north end of town. These are only in small numbers, highlighting the need for ongoing monitoring as further development takes place. The team has also planted ox-eye daisies, forget-me-nots, and primroses in the town centre verges, with yellow rattle starting to get established.

Val, Tess, and Sue have all been involved with several County Wildlife Site surveys this season, with Tess bravely tackling the paperwork! We are enormously grateful for their knowledge, time, and experience with these surveys. Thank you all!

Dawlish WWs Dave and Scott, along with Carolyn Ballard from Sustainable Dawlish, have secured funding for a project called “Our Green Futures”. The project’s goal is to inspire and support local community groups in addressing both climate and ecological challenges. Meetings will be held across Dawlish to involve as many residents as possible, raising awareness and encouraging action. Funding will be available for groups to implement their “Green Futures visions”.

WW Scott has also started a Dawlish Climate and Wildlife Action Journal , a new project launched by Dawlish Town Council’s Climate Declaration Working Group. The journal will be a permanent record of the stories and actions taken by people in Dawlish to help move towards a greener/lower carbon future. Designed as a community scrapbook, the journal will capture stories through photographs, handwritten notes, artwork, newspaper clippings, and other relevant items. 

Doddiscombsleigh WW Jo is one of our CWS surveying heroes! We value her knowledge so much on these surveys, thank you Jo!

Dunsford WW Jess has been regularly contributing wildlife articles to the Unity Parish magazine, while WW Julia continues water testing and litter pick-ups with the Dunsford Smatters (Small Things Matter) group. WWs Pip and Julia, as part of the Dunsford Climate Initiative, are collaborating with the Parish Council to create their biodiversity plan. Julia, is also one of our County Wildlife Site superstars having joined survey teams on several unconfirmed CWS sites this season. Thank you Julia, for all your experience and knowledge!

Exminster The Greenspaces team spent time in the village churchyard putting together a log edged bed for wildflowers, including foxglove, lily of the valley and betony. Hopefully this area will be safe from strimming later in the season. In the village meadow willow cuttings have been added into a boggy area with a plan to pollard these overtime. In 3 or 4 years these should be an attractive feature for those enjoying the meadow;  added wildlife value and soaking up a bit more carbon. 

Holcombe Burnell WW Kate has been instrumental in getting mobile speed cameras installed in her parish, which will be great for reducing causalities at several wildlife collision hotspots. As a parish councillor, she has revised the standard paragraph, used by the PC when commenting on planning applications, regarding steps developers can take for wildlife with the intention of putting a spotlight on the wildlife in the village. Kate has also participated in a consultation with the University of Exeter, addressing the harmful use of night lighting on their new sports pitches and urging them to reduce lighting overspill.

Ideford Thank you Robin for coming along to our most recent CWS survey. We had a great team and managed to look at so much on a big site. We even saw an otter!

Ilsington WWs Sheree, Linda, and Dawn have been busy! They organized a talk by Alistair Wybrow last month, which drew over 40 local residents to the village hall. The talk was well received and emphasized the importance of the existing swift boxes in the village. In Liverton, additional wildflower plug plants and a sparrow bird box were provided to the village hall whilst the wildflower area at Shapley Green was extended with the help of a Parish/Teignbridge councillor and Mark, Teignbridge Green Spaces Officer. A patch system was used for seeding in the new area instead of scarifying, which will be interesting to observe for long-term results. The Ilsington wardens have also connected with a Blackpool school teacher, who oversees the pupil’s Eco Committee, providing the school with a hedgehog house and bird nest box funded by a recent TD Councillor grant. Furthermore, WW Dawn will lead the first parish walk next month as part of the Great Big Green Week, exploring a beautiful woodland within the village. Additional walks to special places in the parish are hoped for in the future.

Kingskerswell WW George has been busy creating several wildflower areas in the parish; orange tip butterflies along with other pollinators have already been spotted there. He’s also been working with Decoy School make another wildflower area using seeds from DWT. George has connected with the Kingskerswell Natural History Society and enjoyed a tour of Kingskerswell Downs, a rare limestone heath full of wildflowers, birds, and 27 butterfly species. Excitingly, he’ll be a guest speaker at their meeting in October. George recently updated the Parish Council on his efforts, and they are considering purchasing two biodiverse areas of land in the parish. Great news!

Newton Abbot WW Eloise has completed the first part of her Wellbeing Walks leadership training with TDC. These walks aim to promote health and wellbeing but are a wonderful opportunity to connect people with the nature and wildlife in their local area. If you’re interested in being involved with this project too, please get in touch.

We also greatly appreciate Eloise’s dedication to monitoring local planning applications and bringing any concerns to the group’s attention. Thank you, Eloise!

North Bovey WW Susan has continued to be busy in her parish encouraging the local community to submit their hedgehog sightings to her. She is happy to report there has been a steady stream of sightings for the area which is good news.

Susan continues to do regular wildflower counts and water quality testing whilst riverfly surveys will start this month. Invasive Skunk Cabbage was recently spotted and she intends to contact the landowners to make them aware of this problem. 

Teignmouth Thank you to Peppy who was also part of our most recent otter spotting CWS survey team! It was great to have you with us.

Trusham WW Helen has celebrated her FOUR HUNDRETH invertebrate species record at the churchyard in Trusham – such a fabulous milestone for Helen to have achieved!

ACT with the Arts Festival

Take a look at the ACT with Arts website, there is such an impressive line-up for the week. Please do share this information onto your community group social media pages and promote the event so it can be a huge success. If you’re interested in participating, please contact Paul Wynter.

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 also be popped onto the ACT website Events Area too.

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

Thank you everyone for your continued support, time and wonderful work for wildlife and nature in your parish in the past few months. Collectively, we all have so many positive stories – it is just so heartening to hear! Lets keep going!

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