Dawlish Warren Beach Management Scheme

There are some big plans ahead for Dawlish Warren. The fear is that a strong southerly storm could cut through the Neck of the Warren and split the sand dunes into two. This will then increase storminess in the estuary and create a heightened flood risk in the village of Dawlish Warren.

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This information board at the Warren explains the detail.

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dw3One of the groynes that needs to be replaced.

dw4This is part of the first phase of the project that was completed a couple of years ago – an internal bund that will hold back the sea during storm surges.

Later in the year a new bund will be built near the Neck made of geotextile bags.

A blue jellyfish at Orcombe Point

A friend of mine sent me this photograph of a large blue jellyfish that had washed up yesterday on the beach near Orcombe Point at Exmouth.

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Apparently it is about 2 feet across.

I think it is a Barrel Jellyfish which can be up to 3 feet across and can occur in a variety of colours ranging from white through to blue.

We are quite used to seeing jellyfish on our beaches and in the sea during the summer months and into the autumn but I wonder whether a December record is unusual?

Thanks for the picture and the tip off Caroline.

A Desert Wheatear on Leasfoot Beach

I had heard (via Birdguides) that there was a Desert Wheatear on Leasfoot Beach which adjacent to Thurlestone Golf Course close to the Club House. So I popped down at lunch time yesterday to see it.

It is a very rare vagrant in Britain – the species normally breeds in the dry steppes and semi-deserts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The recent strong easterly winds must have blown it off course and somehow it ended up in Devon. Here are a few photos of the bird – it is a 1st winter male.

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The Dalmatian Pelican near Padstow

I went to Padstow yesterday to go and look for the Dalmatian Pelican which has been knocking around in Cornwall (and Devon) since May. It is is the first time this species has ever been recorded in Britain – it normally lives in south eastern Europe.

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It is a huge bird – much bigger than a swan

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It is quite a scruffy bird – one of its ID features compared to its more common cousin the White Pelican

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This flight shot shows the limited black on the secondary wing feathers – White Pelicans have much denser black secondaries

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The Camel Estuary where it has been living for the last month or so

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The Dalmatian Pelican was originally seen on the Land’s End peninsula where it stayed for a few weeks before it went to the the Helford. It has also been to Devon on the Torridge near Barnstaple.

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It was a six mile round trip walk to see the bird along the Camel trail from Padstow towards Wadebridge and I was also able to try out my new ‘Scopac’ – a rucksack type of devise with enables me to carry my tripod / telescope on my back – brilliant – should have got one years ago

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In celebration afterwards I had a pint of  Proper Job and a Rick Stein take-away fish and chips (after all I was in Padstow) – it may have been expensive (£8.20 for the F & C) but it was the best fish and chips I have ever eaten.

The writing is on the wall for farm subsidies except in the Uplands

There was an interesting piece in the Daily Telegraph yesterday about the future of farm subsidies ‘Billions of farming subsidies could be diverted to the NHS after Brexit

George Freeman MP, who chairs Thesesa May’s policy unit was speaking to the Social Market Foundation at a Conservation Party Conference fringe meeting.

Here are a few of the things he is reported to have said

“in no sector is the shake out from Brexit going to be more profound and there is a lot of negotiating to do”. (Talking about agriculture)

“We are going to end up supporting bits of farming that clearly would not work without some support. 

“I just think the British electorate would say ‘hang on a minute, we understand why marginal hill farmers, and people who could not exist without support, need some helpBut they may have a problem with ‘you mean we have to write a big cheque every year that we used to turn a blind eye to when it was Europe, but now it has got HMG on it’.

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I suspect hill farmers will take some comfort from this, however many others will now be deeply worried. If such an approach is fully implemented it could have unintended consequences.

There is a great deal of different between the Pillar 1 subsidies (Basic Payment Scheme) which account for 75% of the £3B of subsidies (Greenpeace recently published a list of who got what in Pillar 1 funding which caused quite a sir – see here) and the Pillar 2 monies (Higher Level / Countryside Stewardship) which promote positive conservation management.

Of this Pillar 2 money going to farmers and other land managers around 25% goes to the uplands and 75% is spent promoting positive management on important sites in the lowlands.

Many of these farmers in the lowlands are profitable but the Higher Level / Countryside Stewardship monies helps them manage their ‘wildlife sites’. You have to wonder what will happen to those sites if they lose that money for doing good thing.

A trip to Lansallos

I gave a talk yesterday to the National Trust Rangers in Cornwall on the State of Nature, how we got there and what we need to do going forwards. People seemed pleased with my talk! Afterwards I went for a walk down to the quiet and isolated beach of Lansallos. Here are a few pictures.

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Well worth a visit if you can handle the tricky navigation and incredibly narrow roads ……