Saturday 5 December 2020

Saturday 5th December

Offshore at dawn, in a bracing showery north-northwesterly, there were 32 Great Crested Grebe, 20+ auk spp., seven Red-throated Diver, five Common Scoter, four Gannet, three Great Northern Diver, and three Kittiwake.

Due to distractions, explained below, only some waterbirds were counted today and these were c.1,240 Dunlin, c.825 Oystercatcher, 162 Grey Plover, 128 Bar-tailed Godwit, 108 Shelduck, 103 Knot, 27 Ringed Plover, 21 Sanderling, just six Curlew, just four Great Black-backed Gull, two Greenshank and a Slavonian Grebe. A Golden Plover stood on the island was anticipated given the blast of cold weather. A Peregrine and the usual murder of Carrion Crow (the collective noun) on Finger Point, and a Magpie on the wader island, made roosting wader flocks rather jumpy over the high tide period.

In the woods, the usual tits plus a Coal Tit, also three Chiffchaff, two Goldcrest, two Bullfinch, a Song Thrush, a Chaffinch and a Firecrest.  Other notable sightings were 40 Linnet near the site entrance and five Cirl Bunting.

Other news: This was an eventful day; after wader flocks had naturally dispersed away from in front of the hide on the dropping tide, a number of birders helped to affix boards across all of the hide windows frames that had remained broken and open to the elements since vandalised seven months ago. Admittedly a bit of a 'botched job', but better than nothing. 

The purpose of noting this action here and on other social media platforms today is not in any way meant to be self-congratulatory, but instead is meant as a coordinated plan to draw attention to a wide audience the neglect shown by Teignbridge District Council Rangers toward the much loved bird hide and to other management practices on site. DWRG, comprised of local birders, believes that it has acted reasonably and proportionately to this issue. Following a formal complaint, the Head of Operational Services (TDC) replied to a DWRG member on 18th November.  An extract from this stated, "There is no timetable for the renovation works but I have requested that boarding the windows takes place in the meantime, this will be carried out in due course subject to being able to gain vehicle access via the golf course." Staff have had plenty of access opportunities during the 3 weeks since being instructed to take this action.  

Also, TDC was given fair and clear warning on 3rd November that we will use social media to shame TDC if it failed to respond responsibly.  Evidently, TDC, or at least its Rangers, have again misjudged the situation and local feeling about this issue. 

The work accomplished today is temporary and only hopes to try to preserve the bird hide through the winter. What it really needs is extensive repairs and renovation.  

Big thank you to everyone who helped, including to the local business that supplied materials and other assistance free of charge; we won't forget that.  And also to everyone who has expressed their support.   

Here's a reminder of this bird hide's uses and functions, which have a positive influence on thousands of people every year - 

    regular monitoring of bird sightings and counts at this internationally important nature reserve, which are collated and shared with various organisations for conservation outcomes and used, for instance, to share up-to-date news;
    regular research including professional scientific research that study the origins, movements and population dynamics of waterbirds; much of this relates to field reads of bird rings and also, on occasion, as a base for bird ringing sessions;
    the public can experience nature and marvel at the spectacle of hundreds and thousands of birds at close quarters, enduring memories that help maintain wildlife interests and conservation at the forefront of peoples' priorities;
    where staff and local birders 
share knowledge about wildlife and, for instance, improve awareness to the sensitives of interactions between people and wildlife;
•     shelter from the weather out in a remote and exposed part of the site.

boarding to protect bird hide from adverse winter weather, whilst it remains temporarily closed under COVID-19 related restrictions - Ivan Lakin

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