Barn swallows nesting in Devon, England

From 9 June 2020 video from England says about itself:

Swallows have laid their eggs at Saltram. Part 2 of a new National Trust nature series

Every year, in the machine shed at Saltram in Devon, a family of swallows build their nest. The swallows are not disturbed by sharing this normally busy working space with our gardens and outdoors teams.

This year, with lockdown restrictions in place and restrictions on visits, head gardener Martin Stott is giving us a glimpse into the world of the swallows. Every day this week, we’ll post a new video, showing how the birds are getting on. No swallows were disturbed in the making of these videos.

This video is the sequel.

Pied flycatchers in Devon, England

This video says about itself:

Pied Flycatchers at Yarner Woods, Devon, UK

I travelled 100 miles east yesterday to see the pied flycatchers of Yarner Wood in Devon. The pied flycatcher is a migratory bird species, spending the winters in sub-Saharan Africa, and coming here to breed in the spring. It prefers Western oak woodlands where it nests in tree holes, but it also readily takes up breeding in nestboxes.

Video Produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall.

Filmed on May 20th 2020.

Butterfly in winter in England

Beavers clean water, new research

This video from the USA says about itself:

TITLE: Beaver Ponds As Crucial Habitat for a Sensitive Great Basin Amphibian

SPEAKER: Chad Mellison

AUTHORS: Kent Mcadoo and Chad Mellison

SYMPOSIUM: Restoring and Managing the “Emerald Islands” of the Sagebrush Sea: New Science, Sticks and Stones, and the Eager Beaver [held at the Society for Range Management Annual Meeting in Sparks, Nevada on Jan. 30, 2018]

From the University of Exeter in England:

Beavers do ‘dam’ good work cleaning water

May 9, 2018

Beavers could help clean up polluted rivers and stem the loss of valuable soils from farms, new research shows.

The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Exeter using a captive beaver trial run by the Devon Wildlife Trust, has demonstrated the significant impact the animals have had on reducing the flow of tonnes of soil and nutrients from nearby fields into a local river system.

The research, led by hydrologist Professor Richard Brazier, found that the work of a single family of beavers had removed high levels of sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus from the water that flowed through their 2.5 hectare enclosure.

The family of beavers, which have lived in [a] fenced site at a secret location in West Devon since 2011, have built 13 dams, slowing the flow of water and creating a series of deep ponds along the course of what was once a small stream.

Researchers measured the amount of sediment suspended, phosphorus and nitrogen in water running into the site and then compared this to water as it ran out of the site having passed through the beavers’ ponds and dams. They also measured the amount of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen trapped by the dams in each of the ponds.

Their results showed the dams had trapped more than 100 tonnes of sediment, 70% of which was soil, which had eroded from ‘intensively managed grassland’ fields upstream. Further investigation revealed that this sediment contained high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are nutrients known to create problems for the wildlife in rivers and streams and which also need to be removed from human water supplies to meet drinking-quality standards.

The research was funded by Westland Countryside Stewards and the Natural Environment Research Council and conducted by a team from the University of Exeter led by Professor of Earth Surface Processes, Richard Brazier.

Professor Brazier said: “It is of serious concern that we observe such high rates of soil loss from agricultural land, which are well in excess of soil formation rates. However, we are heartened to discover that beaver dams can go a long way to mitigate this soil loss and also trap pollutants which lead to the degradation of our water bodies. Were beaver dams to be commonplace in the landscape we would no doubt see these effects delivering multiple benefits across whole ecosystems, as they do elsewhere around the world.”

The research findings about beavers’ positive impact on soil erosion losses and pollution in water courses come at a time of growing concern about these issues. In 2009 a separate study estimated that the total cost of soil loss from the UK’s agricultural land was £45million, much of which was due to the impacts of sediment and nutrient pollution downstream.

Devon Wildlife Trust has been conducting its enclosed beaver trial for seven years, while since 2015 it has also been running another beaver project involving a population of wild-living beavers on the River Otter, East Devon.

The charity’s Director of Conservation and Development, Peter Burgess said: “Our partnership with Exeter University working on both our fenced and unfenced beaver trials is revealing information which shows the critical role beavers can play, not only for wildlife, but the future sustainability of our land and water. It is truly inspiring to have our observations confirmed by detailed scientific investigations.”

Pied flycatchers in Devon, England

This video from England says about itself:

21 May 2017

Pied Flycatcher Birds at Yarner Wood, Devon: Male and Female – Filmed partly in slow motion.

I travelled 100 miles east yesterday to see the pied flycatchers of Yarner Wood in Devon. The pied flycatcher is a migratory bird species, spending the winters in sub-Saharan Africa, and coming here to breed in the spring. It prefers Western oak woodlands where it nests in tree-holes, but it also readily takes up breeding in nestboxes. At the end of the video you can see and hear a male pied flycatcher singing.

Video produced by Paul Dinning – Wildlife in Cornwall

Tropical shark in Britain, first ever

This 2 March 2017 video is called Crocodile Shark discovered in UK waters for first time.

From the BBC:

Crocodile Shark discovered in UK waters for first time

2 March 2017

A tropical species of shark has been found on the UK coastline for the first time in recorded history, marine experts said.

A Crocodile Shark carcass was discovered on a beach at Hope Cove near Plymouth and was reported to the National Marine Aquarium.

Experts think the animal, normally found in tropical waters, may have died from the shock of UK’s colder seas.

It is commonly found in Brazil and Australia growing to about 1m (3.3ft).

Steven Greenfields spotted the shark washed up on the beach while walking with his family.

Warmer waters

Mr Greenfields said: “We regularly visit this beach and have never seen anything like this before. My whole family was stunned as the animal had really unusual features but was unmistakably a shark.

Because it was so unusual we consulted our local aquarium to confirm what species it was.”

James Wright, curator at the National Marine Aquarium, said: “This species has never been recorded in the UK before, as it is normally found in deep waters during the day in tropical climates, such as Brazil and Australia, then coming shallower at night to feed.

“With the Crocodile Shark accustomed to much warmer waters, travelling so far and reaching colder waters would have caused a shock to its system and account for the cause of death.

“We would urge the public to share any other unusual sightings with us or The Shark Trust, so we can monitor any trends.”

Paul Cox, managing director of the Shark Trust, said: “Any information that we can get is useful so it’s great that this one has been reported and identified.”

Big Roman coins discovery in Devon, England

This video from England says about itself:

Seaton Down Hoard – 22,000 Roman Coins unearthed in Devon

26 September 2014

The moment Laurence Egerton discovered 22,000 Roman coins on Clinton Devon Estates land.

Read the full story on our website here.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Roman coins unearthed in Devon prompt historians to redraw map of the empire

An archaelogical site in Devon suggests the southwest of England was ‘less backward’ and more influenced by Roman culture than previously thought

Jess Staufenberg

23 June 2016

The boundary of the Roman Empire and its influence in Britain are being re-thought as the full significance of a discovery of coins in Devon begins to sink in.

The southwest of the country, which was previously thought to have rejected Roman influence, may actually have been intricately involved with Mediterranean culture given the presence of the Roman currency denarii, brooches, pottery and a Roman road.

Because the site at Ipplepen, 20 miles from Exeter, has only been excavated during one period every year since its discovery in 2009, archaeologists are only now confident of the significance of the site’s secrets.

In an interview with The Independent, Stephen Rippon, professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Exeter and leader of the excavation, said the site’s 1,000-year history challenged the idea that Devon had been mostly isolated from the Romans.

Instead, natives enjoyed wine and olive oil from eastern Mediterranean amphorae, as well as pottery from northern France and western Germany.

And a road, which suffered from pot holes and was re-surfaced four times to keep it in working order, has also been unearthed and likely continued 12 miles to nearby Totnes.

“The southwest peninsula has always been seen as this backward and remote region of Britain during the Roman Empire ‒ but actually it wasn’t,” Professor Rippon told The Independent.

“What we’re seeing is that these people at Ipplepen were clearly picking and choosing elements of the Roman life and Roman identity that they liked. They have acquired a taste for a Romanised life.”

Prior to this, archaeologists thought Roman influence stopped in Exeter, and the native British who took up its culture were those with Roman style-villas in Dorset and Gloucestershire.

But this Iron Age settlement in Devon proves that Roman trade and culture was seeping into this remote part of England by about the 50s AD under Emperor Claudius and through invasion by the renowned general, Vespasian.

Professor Rippon, however, said that the residents at Ipplepen retained their traditionally circular buildings and did not adopt Roman-style houses.

“One of the aspects of the site that I love is that you get these insights into daily life,” he said.

“The road had ruts in it, for example, which shows they were using horse-drawn carts around here.”

The team of archaeologists have also excavated a post-Roman era cemetery dated from the sixth to eighth century when Christianity had begun to spread across Britain.

The colossal discovery was made after two amateur metal detector enthusiasts, Jim Wills and Dennis Hewings, found a number of silver denarii and entered their findings into a large database called the Portable Antiquity Scheme.

Mr Wills said in 2012 it was “the find of a lifetime”.

“”I found the first Roman coin,” he told the Torquay Herald Express four years ago.

“It was a small silver coin called a denarius. The coin was minted in Rome and was probably brought here by the Romans when they invaded in 43 AD.”

Research into the site, which is being done by the University of Exeter, Portable Antiquity Scheme, the British Museum, Devon County Council and Cotswold Archaeology, will continue into next year.

Members of the public can also help with the excavation by applying at the local visitor centre, according to funding bodies.

British bats fly this December

This video from England says about itself:

Lesser Horseshoe Bats – April 11th 2012 – Devon

Lesser Horseshoe bats filmed on a TV screen from a bat cam set up in a roost on Marsland Nature Reserve – a building has been specially converted to accomodate the roost which has built from just 1 over 10 years ago to 106 in 2011. These individuals are being irritated on occasions by a bat fly parasite (can be seen moving over the back of one @ 52 seconds).

Lizzie Platt from Devon in England reports on Twitter today that bats are flying around. Very unusual for December; because of unusually warm weather.

British bats: here.

English poachers let little girl watch fox cubs savaged by hounds

This video from Britain says about itself:


23 November 2012

DRAMATIC RESCUE CAPTURED ON FILM – A young vixen owes her life to the quick thinking and courage of a hunt monitor who literally dived in and grabbed her from amongst the hounds that were just about to maul her to death …

The young woman was out monitoring the Old Berks Fox Hounds who met at Elmwood House, Black Bourton in Oxfordshire. Not long after the hunt moved off, the Huntsman sent the hound pack into woodland and thick undergrowth.

The hounds found the fox in scrub next to large slurry tanks on the edge of a farm.

Fortunately for the fox, her “guardian angel” was only feet away. With no thought for her own safety, the monitor shouted at the hounds as they closed in on the fox, and running forward, was able to snatch the terrified animal. She then scooped her up, away from amongst the hounds, which would in moments have undoubtedly torn the young animal to pieces. The fox had already been bowled over onto her back, leaving her stomach exposed.

Despite having been bitten by the terrified fox, the monitor hurried the traumatised animal away, cradled in her arms, whilst her colleague, who filmed the whole incident, called for help.

Being followed by a Hunt participant, they reached a fellow monitor’s car and the fox was then driven away to safety. She was checked for injuries, and thanks to the monitor’s lightning reactions, was found to have no serious bites.

The fox has now been rehabilitated into an area where she will be safe from the hunt.

If you like what Hunt Monitors do please visit our Hunt Monitors facebook page

and if you would like to donate to help us, please visit our Go Fund Me account.

From the Daily Mirror in Britain:

Fox hunters slammed for letting little girl watch hounds savage bloodied corpses of dead cubs

22:53, 6 Nov 2015

By Ben Glaze

The girl, aged around six, was with 14 men who flung the lifeless cubs to a pack of 30 hounds in a hunt training exercise

A small girl looks on as a pack of hunt hounds swarm around the bloodied bodies of two fox cubs.

The shocking footage, captured by anti-hunt campaigners, shows the child – aged around six – waving her arms as the bloodthirsty pack mills about the lifeless young animals.

The fox cubs, whose corpses are hidden from view in the footage, had been thrown to the 30-strong pack moments earlier, already dead.

Wearing pink wellington boots, a white-and-pink top and blue jeans, the little girl can be seen dancing around the dogs, then backing away.

As she does so, 14 grown-ups stand by watching the fired-up hounds, tails wagging with delight, being directed by their handlers.

Animal rights activists tonight condemned the group for letting a youngster view the distressing sight.

Tom Quinn, campaigns director of the League Against Cruel Sports, asked: “What kind of people are so unashamedly happy to parade their cruelty in front of a child?”

He added: “The majority in the UK are strongly against hunting. This is its dark reality.

“We’re sure they’ll be shocked and disgusted to see a little girl being brought along to witness this barbarism.”

Animal welfare campaigners passed the video to the Mirror after seeing the youngster appear alongside the adults for the dawn “training” rite.

In the one minute, 45 second film, recorded in the mid-Devon countryside, the girl can be seen glancing up at the group of gilet-clad adults observing the hounds.

The foxes were thrown to the pack already dead in what is thought to be part of a training process.

In the footage, a middle-aged man perches on a red quad bike, while a silver 4×4 stands parked at an open gate.

The video begins with the girl, her hair tied back in a pony tail, crouching to the ground then popping up, scratching her head, looking to the adults and folding her arms across her chest.

She then turns back to look at the dogs before one fox corpse is picked up from the ground.

The second animal’s lifeless body is also retrieved, and a kennel worker carries both across the freshly harvested field to sling them into a box on the rear of the quad bike.

The horrific scenes unfolded near the village of Nymet Rowland, with dogs from the nearby 217-year-old Eggesford Kennels.

The kennels describe the land as “good hunting country”, extending 19 miles east to west and some 20 miles north to south.

An undercover investigator from the League Against Cruel Sports, who shot the footage from a public right of way, said: “It’s likely the cubs were dug out of their den and shot by the hunt’s terrierman.” …

A botched effort to relax anti-hunt laws forced Prime Minister David Cameron into a climbdown in July.

A commenter on the Daily Mirror site writes:

If a six-year-old had been taken to a dogfight on a working-class housing estate then they would be called straight away and the parents would be fully investigated.

I call upon Child Protection to make sure that this is done.

Police appeal after allegation of dog hunting and killing fox near Plymouth: here.

Police launch investigation after fox killed during Atherstone Hunt | Tamworth Herald: here.

English business advocates illegal killing of songbirds

This 2012 video from Cornwall is called Hand Feeding Birds – Robin, Great and Blue Tit Singing.

From the BBC:

Devon butterfly supplier advised ‘wringing’ birds‘ necks

15 September 2015

A butterfly supplier who advocated illegally wringing birds’ necks has been branded “outrageous” by the RSPB.

Information on the Devon Butterflies website advised customers to kill various garden birds if they threatened butterfly breeding.

Tony Whitehead, from the RSPB, said the birds were protected and the website was “advising people to break the law”.

A company spokesman said the information “should have been labelled a tip” rather than as advice.

The website said the way to deal with blue or great tits that might peck holes in moth and butterfly breeding sleeves was to “catch them and wring their necks”.

It also suggested putting out mousetraps to catch robins, wrens and blackbirds.

Mr Whitehead said the message was “unambiguous” and described it as “absolutely outrageous”.

“It’s pretty simple really. All these birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

“He’s suggesting killing birds and you just cannot recommend to do this in a civilised society,” he said.

PC Josh Marshall, who tweeted a screen grab of the page pointing out that the advice was illegal, said the website had been brought to his attention by a member of the public.

“I’ve had a massive amount of feedback about this – he’s basically advocating killing wild birds. These birds mentioned aren’t pest species, they’re fully protected,” he said.

“I’m looking into the matter to see if an offence has been committed and I’ll certainly be visiting him to give him some advice and ask whether he has already killed any birds.”

A spokesperson from Butterfly Conservation said it had no affiliation with Devon Butterflies and wished to make it clear that they could not disagree more strongly with the advice given.