Archive for September, 2010

SOUTH EFFORD MARSH – THE COMMUNITY’S VERDICT

At a very well organised public meeting, chaired by Gary Streeter MP, on Friday 17th September the Environment Agency presented their revised plans for creating salt marsh at South Efford to a packed audience of local people at Aveton Gifford Village Hall.  An eloquent response to the proposal was presented by John Peters, a highly experienced environmental scientist, AG parishioner and ACA committee member.

Following a lively but good tempered Q & A session, votes of those attending were recorded on ballot slips with the result that the EA’s proposal to create a salt marsh at South Efford was rejected by 36 votes (against) and 11 votes (in favour). 

No guarantees about the future status of the project were provided on the night; many uncertainties remain.   However, EA staff stated that they will take this clear expression of community opinion into consideration and consult with DEFRA before deciding how to proceed. 

A report of the meeting appeared in the Kingsbridge Gazette of 24th September – click here SEM2.

DWARF SPIKE-RUSH (Eleocharis parvula)- confirmed sighting!

It’s hardly any surprise, given its extremely muddy habitat, that this plant – the Dwarf Spike-Rush or Eleocharis parvula, is a rarity in the UK and that the Avon is the only place in Devon where the species has been reported.  One wonders whether many people would bother looking!

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that on our third attempt to re-discover the plant in the Bridge End area at AG, Gordon Waterhouse, Nigel Mortimer (South Devon AONB Unit) and myself, in the expert company of Roger Smith, the Royal Botanical Society’s official recorder for South Devon, and Andy Byfield from Plantlife (a wild plant conservation charity) managed to find a couple of small patches.   This highly inconspicuous plant appears to be at the limit of its survival range for salinity and is at risk from being swamped by sloppy mud but we can certify that  it is present on our river, this year!  

Our photographic evidence is not very persuasive as our equipment was not sufficiently sophisticated to capture good images of the plant.  However, we do have some good shots of the mud and of a typically enthusiastic Gordon wandering around in it –  minus his trousers!

GREY PHALAROPE SIGHTED

A Grey Phalarope has now been added to the tally of unusual birds spotted on the Avon within the last week or so.  This specimen was seen by Rod Bone & co. from the Tidal Road, at the seaward end, I understand.

For details see this link -

http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/greyphalarope/index.aspx

Hot Gossip!

Glossy Ibis recently spotted on the river.  This is what they look like

The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is a wading bird in the ibis family Threskiornithidae.

This is the most widespread ibis species, breeding in scattered sites in warm regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Atlantic and Caribbean region of the Americas. It is thought to have originated in the Old World and spread naturally from Africa to northern South America in the 19th century. This species is migratory; most European birds winter in Africa, and in North America birds from north of the Carolinas winter farther south. Birds from other populations may disperse widely outside the breeding season.

The Glossy Ibis nests colonially in trees, often with herons. It is also gregarious when feeding in marshy wetlands; it preys on fish, frogs and other water creatures, as well as occasionally on insects.

This species is 55–65 cm long with an 88–105 cm wingspan. Breeding adults have reddish-brown bodies and shiny bottle-green wings. Non-breeders and juveniles have duller bodies. This species has a brownish bill, dark facial skin bordered above and below in blue-gray (non-breeding) to cobalt blue (breeding), and red-brown legs. Unlike herons, ibises fly with necks outstretched, their flight being graceful and often in V-formation.

Sounds made by this rather quiet ibis include a variety of croaks and grunts, including a hoarse grrrr made when breeding.

The Glossy Ibis is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

This is what the Avon specimen looks like.  Obviously there is a clean up of more than derelict boats required at Bridge End!

DIARY DATES

 

  1. Friday 17th September: 1900 Public meeting about South Efford marsh, AG Memorial Hall, with Gary Streeter MP. Come and have your say! See POSTS on this website for further details.
  2. Sunday 19th September: 1100, Cockleridge, Bigbury on Sea -  ‘Beachwatch’ beach clean-up* in association with Marine Conservation Society.  Contact: Maya Plass 07811349966 or info@learntosea.co.uk.  *See ECOLOGY/BEACH CLEANS page for safety notes for attendees.
  3. Wednesday 22nd September: 1100, upper Avon walk from South Brent .  Contact: Mary & Don Gaskins 01752 336049 or dongaskins@talktalk.net . See POSTS on this website for further details.  
  4. Tuesday 19th October: 1900, Thurlestone Parish Hall -  Public lecture ‘ Water for Life and Livelihoods’ by Paul Sadler (Environment Agency)
  5. Mid-October (TBA): a Tidal Road clean up from AG and Bigbury
  6. Friday 19th November:  1900 for 1930, Avon Mill restaurant – reunion meal (members only). Contact Ros Brousson (01548 550792 or brousson@btinternet.com.  Menu details, prices, etc. to follow.