More Past Bere Link articles

SOME PAST BERE LINK ARTICLES: JULY 2009

From the Rector

Celebration has been an important theme recently. The Diocese of Exeter has been celebrating its 1100th anniversary and the three bishops have been touring the whole of Devon over the last few months. I’m sure you read in the paper about Bishop Michael’s visit to Tavistock Deanery; it was a time to celebrate the vibrant life of the Church in this area. The open air service, with baptisms in the Tavy and 35 people being confirmed, was a wonderful affirmation of faith. Saturday 27th June saw a gathering of 4,000+ on Exeter Cathedral green with a great mixture of pomp and ceremony, music, drama, fun and celebration – a very up lifting and encouraging day. In the evening, back in Bere Alston there was a celebration of a different kind, with an open air concert with ‘Gruff Nuts’ playing in a field at Collytown. The weather was perfect, the location, glorious, the organisation was spot on, and a wonderful mix of young and old enjoyed a good social event – a celebration of summer. It is far too easy to allow all the bad news and negative things in life to bring us down. We need to take the scandal of the MP’s expenses seriously; the recession is having a profound effect on many; the future might look difficult but in all of it there are things to celebrate. The simple pleasure of the glorious sunsets that we have seen lately; the anniversaries and birthdays that are so important to families; the excitement of children growing up, exam results, fresh beginnings, new life; there is so much around us if we can but open our eyes and see. If you have some time for a holiday, maybe that would be a good time to put the difficult things on one side and celebrate the good things in life. It may take a conscious decision to break away but it is worth it. There is an old expression that we should ‘count our blessings one by one’ and I’m sure there will be a modern therapy version of it, but why not, with a couple of others (and a bottle of wine?), make a list of the blessings and good things in your lives. Don’t let any negative things appear on the list, and allow even the small things to be included. Then keep the list and look back at it when things get tough. The Psalms in the bible express every emotion you can imagine but usually come back to God’s goodness and the need for us to praise God in all circumstances. Some of the Psalms are simply hymns of celebration and a joy to read. Find a minute to read out loud Psalm 145 and hear what God has for you. These are the first three verses: ‘I will extol you, my God and my King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise you name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.’ Have a wonderful summer. Nick Law

 

Heaven in Devon
More than 7,000 people attended a day of celebrations in the sunshine in Exeter at the end of June to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the Church of England in Devon. The Archbishop of Canterbury travelled down for the weekend to join in the festivities. Events kicked off with Nightchurch in Exeter Cathedral on Friday night, when more than 1,000 young people from across Devon joined in an evening of live music, inflatables, a skate park and a question and answer session with the Archbishop. On Saturday, a communion service on Cathedral Green was attended by around 7,000 people of all ages and from different denominations, who had travelled across the county to be there. Archbishop, the Most Revd Rowan Williams began by saying 'Happy Birthday Exeter!' to cheers. He said that Devon was 'glorious indeed' and praised the work of the church in the area, saying it was obviously alive and well in the region. In his sermon he reminded the crowd of Christ’s selfless sacrifice at the heart of the Christian faith and urged the church to demonstrate selfless love, ‘finding God in the face of our neighbour’. The service featured a drama played out by three enormous puppets, characterising Leofric, the Bishop who founded Exeter Cathedral, theologian Richard Hooker and Exeter’s 19th century Bishop Frederick Temple. The Archbishop later gave a talk to a packed Cathedral explaining that the Gospel does not merely fill gaps in people’s lives but offers fulfillment to all. An outdoor Songs of Praise, in hot sunshine, rounded off the day. Interviews with local people demonstrated how the Christian faith is at work in people’s lives today. Judi Spiers, who introduced the service, said afterwards it had been 'a very moving experience'. During the service the Archbishop was interviewed about his own conversion to Christianity by author David Winter. Around 5,000 people joined in this service, filling every seat and sitting on the grass around Cathedral Green. The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, said: ‘The whole anniversary has been a wonderful and inspiring experience for me - and this weekend, seeing the thousands that turned out, is just the icing on the cake. The music was stunning and the drama profound. To see so many people crowded onto Cathedral Green is just heart-warming.’ (A number of people from our peninsula attended the event, including some who sang in the choir.)

 

Dear Friends,
The Met Office has forecasted (rather bravely) that this will be a ‘Barbeque Summer’. To be fair, we have already had better weather than we did for the whole of the previous two summers. It is still very rare that we get into a drought situation with parched earth and limited water supplies. In this rain-drenched island it is hard to imagine life in a dry and dusty land. In the Middle East water is of huge importance and a drought there doesn’t just mean not using the hosepipe but actually becomes life-threatening. Water is more important than oil to the people of the Middle East. This is the context in which Jesus called himself a stream of living water to anyone who is thirsty. What he was saying about himself was that if we trust in him and accept his love for us he will provide for us a quality of life beyond anything we can imagine. Many of us are spiritually thirsty, Jesus promises to quench that thirst by giving us a fullness of life, a new purpose, an inner peace and a well of bubbling joy. May the streams of living water flow through you today,
Rev Stuart Nixon , Bere Alston United Church

 

Street Pastors in Tavistock
What is this initiative? Street Pastors are Christians who want to share the love of Jesus with others in a practical way. They go out onto the streets and act as Good Samaritans during the late night and early morning hours as people come and go from pubs and bars. A typical Street Pastor patrol will walk the streets and engage with people and help where required. One of the ways of helping is by giving out flip-flops to young women! On many occasions in the early hours the high heels that are the fashion become too painful to wear, so girls end up walking about in bare feet, in places where there is broken glass and all sorts of other mess around. The Street Pastor’s rucksack will contain a couple of pairs of flip-flops just in case! What is so good about Street Pastors is that it is a way for ordinary men and women in the church to engage with our society, not to judge it but to help those in need. Our streets in Tavistock (and potentially the surrounding villages) are not as wild as some of the big cities, but by being out there as a Christian presence we can help to make a difference. TACT (Tavistock Area Christians Together) support this initiative and the next steps are getting a Management Committee together and registering with the national body, who will then give us the training package. We are hoping to recruit and train volunteers over the summer period and go live sometime in the autumn. If you are interested, more information is available at www.streetpastors.co.uk or by contacting TACT representatives: Roger Bird or Graham Boot-Handford Tel: (01822) 810003 Tel: (01822) 841185 Email: rogbird@me.com Email: grahambh123@gmail.com

 

Messy Church
Our second Messy Church, held in the United Church on the usual Gateway joint service Sunday in July, was again a great success and it was wonderful to see so many adults and children there. To tie in with our theme of ‘Who is this man that even the wind and the waves obey him’, looking at the story of the stilling of the storm by Jesus, all the crafts for the first hour had a nautical theme. Young and old made aquariums out of paper plates, plaques with sea shells and stickers out of old CDs, tissue paper windsock fish, streamers to re-enact the storm, boats both as origami and out of scrap materials, which could be tested on the small paddling pool, playdough shapes, and a big seascape banner was painted. We had a short time of worship, including two upbeat songs, one complete with energetic action! After we acted out the stilling of the storm, led by Nick the Vic, Paul Gill told us how God is there for us when we meet troubles and storms in our own lives and finished with the poem Footsteps. We then shared lunch together, with just enough for everyone. Many and grateful thanks to everyone who came or helped. It wouldn’t have worked without you! Look out for posters for the next one, probably sometime in the autumn. Ann Parsons

Bere Local History Group

At the June meeting Col Tony Clark’s presentation was ‘Dartmoor, a Man-made Landscape’. As he both lives and works on Dartmoor, Col Clark was well-versed to give a knowledgeable and very interesting talk on the moor, its past, present and future and prospects for this vast, wild, but not completely untamed area, which became a national park in 1959. Col Clark covered this remarkable area of bleak grandeur, its history, archaeology, industries, inhabitants, methods of farming, and posed questions as to how the area could develop, if in fact it should. Dartmoor was part of a range of mountains that stretched across Europe 200 million years ago. Gradually, through erosion, the granite base of the mountains was revealed and these are the tors which grace Dartmoor today. The wilderness has hardly altered since prehistoric times. Dartmoor was occupied during the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods and there is much evidence of mining during the Bronze Age. There are hundreds of stone circles—remnants of homes and settlements throughout the moor—possibly the most famous being at Grimspound near Manaton. Burial chambers (cists) can also be seen. Those near South Zeal are known as the Cosden Cairns. The inhabitants of Dartmoor from the earliest times ahve always used the moor to survive and adapted as the climate has undoubtedly changed. Hunting by the Crown and the rich and poaching by the poor was rife in the 12th and 13th centuries. In medieval times farmers were allowed to enclose additional land, known as ‘Newtakes’, measuring eight acres. These can be seen, particularly in the east, and this field system can be easily identified in dry periods and from the air. Col Clark talked about the ancient tenements, known as cross passage farmsteads, the size being regulated by the length of the timber available. A splendid thatched example remaining today is ‘Jurston’. In the 17th and 18th centuries the moor was a hive of industry. Water was needed for tin working and leats such as Drake’s Leat were constructed. At the end of the 19th century Burrator reservoir was built as a water supply for Plymouth. Almost unbelievable, rabbits were an essential source of income. They were deliberately farmed at places such as Dittsworthy Warren in the 18th century for food and their pelts. Quarrying has been important for several centuries, sending quality stone to London and worldwide. Timber has been of considerable importance. Today there are more forests than in the last 100 years as timber is no longer needed for firewood and day-to-day existence. There is a famous wood named Wistman’s Wood comprising stunted oaks several hundreds of years old near Two Bridges. In the late 1700s the Toll Acts resulted in profitable ventures, resulting in improved travel - at a price. By 1809 Princetown’s prison had been built: another money-making machine for the Crown. The development of the railway system in the latter part of the 1800s affected Dartmoor. Heavy goods could be easily transported to market and people from the cities and towns were able to visit for pure pleasure. The military train on Dartmoor and this produces further income for the Duchy. They will be re-negotiating a new lease to run for 21 years from 2012. Hardier breeds of sheep - eg Scottish Blackface, Belted Galloway - and Highland cattle have been introduced as they flourish more readily in the harsh terrain. Meanwhile the traditional pure-bred Dartmoor pony is gradually increasing in numbers due to a pilot scheme which prevents interbreeding. Hopefully this will eventually raise the commercial viability of this ancient breed. As a finale, Col Clark fired a number of pertinent questions at his audience. Did people want to see wind farms on Dartmoor? How do we manage change? Do we need this National Park? Should we turn back the clock, stand still or adapt? Should the uranium on the moor be harvested? What sacrifices are we prepared to make in the face of global warming? The consensus of opinion was that Dartmoor should remain as it is now, perhaps with more access, but is this possible? Betty Endean

Parish Council

June meeting
Bere Alston Recreation Field. The Council and Bere Alston United FC had a meeting to discuss the draft agreement for the hire of the pavilion and the area used as a football pitch. An offer by the club to make a pitch for youngsters adjacent to the main pitch was rejected by Council and the existing youngsters’ pitch lower down the field will remain. The pavilion is to have a major clean and the floors will be repainted. Bere Ferrers Recreation Field. Because vehicles have accessed the field and damaged an item of play equipment, the alteration of the layout of the access gate at the top of the field is to be discussed at the next Recreation committee meeting. This should channel all vehicles into the car park. Parish Hall Regeneration. After a recent meeting with BARP, several amendments to the proposed lease were approved by Council with the exception of the blocking up of the fire doors to the play area as suggested in revised plans submitted to West Devon Borough Council. It was strongly felt by Council that these doors must remain as fire doors. Bere Alston Allotments. Council were informed that three Bere Alston allotment holders would like another one and that there were ten people on the waiting list, despite new plots having been recently introduced. Some allotments were in a run-down state and suitable action will be taken by Council. Council Meetings. Parishioners are always welcome at council meetings and there is a question time at the end of meetings for any enquiries from parishioners. Fixed meetings are: Finance and General Purposes – always the penultimate Tuesday in the month, usually at 7.30pm, and Full Council on the last Tuesday of the month at 7.30pm, unless there is a guest speaker, when the meeting starts at 7pm. For other meetings, please see the parish notice boards. Bev Slaughter

 

Bere Alston Gardening Club

The recent garden trail weekend on the Bere peninsula raised £608 for the Bere Alston Parish Hall Regeneration Project. The trail of 16 gardens, spread across Bere Alston, Bere Ferrers and Weir Quay, were on view to the public for two afternoons. The gardens ranged widely in type and reflected their owners' personality. They often encompassed pleasant views and photo opportunities. Vineyards and orchards could be explored, along with more conventional cottage gardens with old favourites such as delphiniums, foxgloves and perfumed roses. Rare trees and a rock garden also delighted visitors. Refreshment stops at the two church halls were an added bonus for approximately 200 people who followed the trail. Organiser of the event was Geoff Stowell, who presented the cheque to the project. Thanks were expressed to gardeners Peter Harper, Dr Frances Howard, David Pearce, Betsy Gallup, Brian Lamb, Peter and Rose Key, Ann and Colin Street, Chris Groves, Gordon and Elizabeth Spiers, David and Caroline Clark, Ray and Pam Bullough, Norman and Jean Edington, Jim and Eileen Kiltie, Jill Turner, Geoffrey and Elizabeth Stowell, Ron and Barbara Clewlow and Orla Fox.

Bere Ferrers WI

Twenty-five  members and visitors attended ‘The History and Music of Harps’ with our local harp maker Tim Hampson on 8th July. Tim played the piano and guitar in his youth and in his late 20s found an old harp in need of renovation and started work at the Furniture College and learnt about making harps. Harps go back thousands of years and were hollowed-out pieces of wood or shell covered in skin with strings of horse hair stretched between. He showed us pictures of harps in various shapes and sizes through the ages, the oldest being found in 2-3000 years BC. In the l4th Century the Irish harp Trinity College harp (symbol on the Guinness can) and the Queen Mary harp in the museum of Edinburgh would be played by the Bard with resounding ring on the metal strings. In Europe a lighter Gothic harp was made in the l6th and l7th centuries. In Spain two rows of strings crossing over either side of the neck was invented, and the first pedal harp was patented in 1720 in Bavaria.  Around 7000 harps were produced in the early l800s in Great Marlborough Street and sent all over the world, and the Italians and the Welsh created a triple harp in the l800s. Tim has made 53 harps to date and each one can take him six weeks to make. His small harps are used by musicians to take on their holidays! For a finale Tim played us three Welsh pieces on the Welsh harp and two classics on the small harp. After many questions he was thanked by Valerie Hamer for a very enlightening evening. The next Meeting is on Wednesday 9th September: ‘Colourful, Scented, Wonderful Winter Gardens’ with Michael Stephens. Kate Harman

Chatterbox

Since our last entry in the Bere Link we have enjoyed a trip to the Miniature Pony Centre at Moretonhampstead. Our joint fundraising activities with Tiddlywinks Toddler Group virtually paid for the coach trip and entry. It was a lovely day, enjoyed by mums and dads who attend TiddlyWinks and Chatterbox and their children. We also had a great evening with the Gruff Nuts. Details and thanks are elsewhere in the Link under the BereCom heading. Our next fundraising event is a jumble sale being organised to raise money for Chatterbox and TiddlyWinks, date to be arranged, but please look out for posters around the area with more details. If you have jumble, which you would like to donate, please contact Paula on 841700. Chatterbox will use all money raised to fund more courses for parents – we are planning a child development course, spinning (alpaca wool) session (25th Sept), salsa session/course, swimming trip, breakaway (self protection) session and baby/toddler massage. We are always open to new ideas for courses/ sessions suggested by parents, so if you are a parent of a pre-school age child and wish to participate in any sessions or just wish to meet other parents for coffee and chat please come along any Friday 1-2.45pm in Hope Cottage Café or contact Julie Overnell on 840452 for more details. We are taking a break during the school summer holidays but will meet regularly from September again. Julie Overnell

Bere Alston Bowling Club

It’s the time of year once again for our Annual Open Competition. Teams from across Devon and Cornwall converge in Bere Alston to compete for the prize money and the coveted trophy. It is always a day we look forward to; the atmosphere around the club will be buzzing. Home-made pastries and cakes are available in abundance and temptingly arranged on tables. Freshly made sandwiches look inviting and are waiting to be devoured. The urn is boiling and ready for the anticipated arrival of the teams at 9 o’clock, all expecting tea and coffee to be readily available. Old friends and new acquaintances are all chatting noisily but listening for the toll of the bell, which signifies that play is about to begin. The Green is suddenly full of players, all dressed in white; old and young with their woods of many colours scattered across the very green grass. The scene is set! The game is on! In the Club House the atmosphere has changed, strangely quiet for a few minutes, then suddenly you can hear the sound of Sue and the dedicated team of lady members (and a few men) laughing and chatting as they busy themselves preparing lunch and snacks for the players, their families, friends and visitors. There is no doubt that a few will fancy a pint (or two) or a cold drink, so the bar will be open. At the end of the day 24 teams (96 players) will have competed, a special few will have won and proudly clutch their trophies, but win or lose all will go away happy after enjoying a great day of bowling. Come along on Sunday 9th August, support the Bere Alston team, have some lunch, enjoy the atmosphere and have great day. Looking for some casual exercise, new friends, a new challenge, a quiet drink and a chat or just something to get you out for a while? We can offer all of the above and more! Bowling is a sport for all; age and ability is not an issue. Just come along, or give us a call. Many people say ‘I would love to have a go at that’. If you are one of those people, but are a bit shy and apprehensive, why not have a private one-to-one session with one of our coaches and see how you get on. It’s completely free, no obligation and its fun and painless. Just ring the number at the end of this article and speak to Ken. The new season is under way, so if you fancy bowling now is your chance to come and join us. Established bowlers or mere beginners, all get equal opportunities to play. Social members are also welcome. Club Nights are every Tuesday. The bar is always open so come along, have a drink in a warm friendly atmosphere, and meet the members. We promise not to bite. Club Chairman, Ken Bellchambers 01822 841664 www.geocities.com/berealstonbowlingclub

Bere Comm

BereCom (Bere Community) was formed by three village groups coming together to organise a large fundraising effort. It is now a few weeks since our live band event and we believe it was a fantastic and successful evening. Entertainment was provided by Gruff Nuts, who had the audience dancing from early in the evening until the close with many requests for encores and the crowds still wanting the evening to continue later into the night. The refreshment tent virtually ran out of food with the hog roast being particularly popular – the meat (purchased from the village butcher) was delicious. The venue proved to be perfect, with stunning views, sunset and the weather was particularly kind. Many people came from all over the peninsula, having walked, cycled or driven to the event, and some then camped overnight or walked home. The event was a financial success, raising just under £2000, which will be shared equally between the three groups (Chatterbox Parents Group, Tiddlywinks Toddler Group and Bere Alston Regeneration Partnership). Much effort was put into organising this event and we wish to thank all those who helped us – without you all we would not have had such a successful and enjoyable evening. Many people have asked if we are organising another similar evening. We are considering making the live band open air event an annual one because the feedback from those who attended and volunteered on the night has been so good. We will keep you informed. Thanks again to all who helped, those who attended and supported us in this joint fundraising event. It was so good to see such a lot of people from babies to grandparents enjoying the evening and raising so much money. Thank You. Fern Hughes (BARP), Julie Marks (TiddlyWinks), Julie Overnell (Chatterbox) 

Local Walks

Footpath No. 4 - Ley Lane to County Road The path starts by the railway bridge in Ley Lane, go through the gate and, keeping to the right, head for the small wooden gate. A gully is crossed here by a bridge to a second wooden gate. Walk across the bottom of the field to two metal gates. Go through and walk straight ahead to another two metal gates and on to the county road. Bridleway No. 94 - Hensbury Lane to Hole Farm Road From Hensbury Lane follow the track uphill, ignoring any gates on either side; walk/ride straight ahead. You will then leave the enclosed leafy lane and go through a gateway into a field. Continue straight ahead and, keeping the hedge on your left, you will come to a second gateway. Through this the path descends, bearing to the right. When you reach the bottom of the field turn right and keeping the hedge on your left, follow it until you come to the gate which takes you out onto Hole Farm Road. I was going to suggest you make a circular walk linking these two paths with a permissive path that went from Hole Farm road to the Bere Ferrers road, but unfortunately one can no longer do this as the Parish Council has been informed the permission has been removed. The person who has been exercising their dog in these fields, letting it run around, even when cattle are there, is the one to thank! The farmer has understandably had enough. Doris Chapman

The Poetry of Consolation
Like many people who have been seriously ill for a long time, I often turn to poetry for consolation and as an outlet for the contradictory emotions that arise from pain, confinement, loss of self-belief and the various spiritual conflicts that inevitable follow. Love itself is often a casualty of the self-absorption that illness fosters, and poetry can offer perspectives on the self and the lives of others that are salutary and uplifting. My belief in poetry as a healing and inspiring medium of thought has prompted me to start compiling an anthology of poems which is to be called Poems of Consolation for the Chronically Ill and In Pain, and I am inviting suggestions from anyone with experience of illness for poems that they themselves find comforting. I will be most grateful for your own favourites, either the poem texts or citing title, poet or first line. You can send these directly by email to acoemetos@aol.com or by post to Sylvia Scott, Lockeridge Farm House, Bere Alston or phone 01822 841585. Sylvia Scott

 

The Swinging New Rope String Band
There was a packed audience in Bere Ferrers Church Hall on 20th June when the New Rope String Band strayed from Teignmouth Folk Festival to entertain, amuse and generally create mayhem. Their opening act involved an imaginative game of tennis, setting an eclectic theme for the evening, and being particularly appropriate for the start of Wimbledon! They literally tied their audience in knots of laughter with their highly visual, zany acts; dancing and clowning around while playing a wide range of instruments which included fiddles, banjo, mandolin, accordion, guitar, harmonica, trumpet, double bass, various percussion instruments and a theremin—an unusual musical instrument which uses oscillating induction currents. It was intriguing to watch Peter Challoner coaching music from thin air. The children almost upstaged the group with their forthright questions. Everyone was impressed when the group performed an English folk dance, cavorting round to form an ‘Isle of Man’ figure. Jock Tydlesley, Peter Eric Challoner, Vera Van Heeringen and Tim Dalling, who comprised the band, are performers par excellence, who kindly gave us an encore. Five-year-old Niamh Mugridge presented a bouquet to Vera and the group thanked Anne Turner for organising the evening. Nine years previously they came to perform at the first fundraising event Anne had organised with Villages in Action, known then as The Old Rope String Band. Sadly one of the members of that group was killed in an accident and they now have two new members. Betty Endean

 

Nature Watch

SUMMER I am always struck by the gradual change in the dominant colours in our hedgerows as we pass through the seasons from the first fresh green shoots through yellow (celandine and primrose), pink (anemones), blue and white (bluebell and stitchwort), red (campion and foxglove) to the current white period. This latest phase is thanks to the hogweed, which has replaced the more delicate hedge parsley as the main umbel of the hedge-bank, and the hedge bedstraw which seems to scramble from the bank and winds its way a surprising distance up the branches of the hedgerow shrubs. With its square-sectioned stem, whorls of leaves and bunches of flowers it is easy to tell it from that other scrambler, the goose-grass or 'cleavers', also white-flowered though they are fairly insignificant and the notoriously sticky stems and seeds. This sticky-ness is due to the small hooks that cover the surface. From high summer into autumn the grasses and what remains of the flowers from earlier gradually dry off and turn a straw-colour as the fruits and seeds ripen, if the hedge-cutters don't get there first! (They have on the Bere Alston to Bere Ferrers road! Early July. Ed) I have seen many fine stands of hedge-parsley cut down in its prime, before setting seeds and the next years display is never as vigorous. Less sturdy plants may often be wiped out by over-diligent cutting. Does this matter? Maybe our subjective appreciation of this biodiversity is unimportant in the long run, but all the other animals in the food chain from the insect up depend on these plants as their food source! Just the hogweed seems to carry on whatever we do to it (and it does have an offensive smell in hot sunlight, with a vicious sap that produces blisters on any areas of unprotected skin). Summer is of course the time when insects reach their peak. I have mentioned before that there is a good probability of a summer of painted lady butterflies, resulting from the notable spring immigration that was recorded. These should have bred, with the next generation ready to emerge as fresh brightly coloured adults. Unfortunately insects are probably more dependant on the weather than most other animals: for growth of their food plants, through the stages of metamorphosis and wind and rain will control when and where they can fly! So far we have had a few days when clouds of mayflies appear to dance anywhere within reach of a patch of water. Their large wings and three long 'tails' make them appear a lot larger than they really are. With their rather ungainly flight they are a sitting target for a wide variety of birds, and for fish if they descend too near to the surface of the water. Amongst the most spectacular of the insectivorous birds are the swifts, swallows and house-martins. By now they are gathering in small groups, the young still being fed (in early July). With binoculars it is often easy to see a beak-full of insects being handed over! These groups will merge and be joined by others from further afield. The reed-beds around Bere Ferrers are a particular place where they will gather and roost prior to their migration. The swifts go first in mid-August: they are believed to never settle outside of the breeding season, so they are not part of this mass-roost. We will have a few more weeks with the others, then wake up one morning and realise that they've all left. Their breeding success will depend on the insect supply, and upon the weather and whatever food plants the insects use. Add to this list climate change and all the other human-centred influences and those few insignificant plants in a nearby hedge may have a significance! Pete Mayston


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