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Somerset Birding News

The Society has recently donated an outdoor camera to the South West Children's Hospice at Charlton Farm, Wraxall, so that children, parents and visitors can closely monitor the bird life using their garden feeders, while remaining in their refectory. The idea by the Community Fundraiser, Emma Parker was considered the most worthy of suggestions by our President, Stephen Moss, and Roger Dickey, Eve Tigwell and Dick Best went along to see how the project was working. They were also given a tour of the facilities and met staff and volunteers. Such is the success of the camera at the hospice, that SOS is intending to sponsor membership of the hospice in the Garden Bird Watch scheme, thus hopefully establishing an enduring link with this very worthy organisation.  

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The Blackdown Hills and Quantock Hills AONBs, with help from the Society and BTO, are seeking the help of volunteers in monitoring Nightjar populations. We hope that SOS members may be prepared to help. It is also hoped that records of  other nocturnal and crepuscular species may be obtained.

This is an exciting project, especially for the Blackdowns, an area which is very much underwatched. On a public Nightjar evening last summer, seven churring males were recorded at just one site.

For more information, see the following:

Blackdowns - two separate training events and

Quantocks -

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The Bittern Monitoring Programme has published a summary of the 2018 breeding season. The number of booming males in Somerset has increased from 49 to 55, and the county had the highest figures.

For the full report, click here.

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Katie Stacey and Luke Massey, of Sunbittern Media, are working on a Crowdfunded documentary, called ‘The Last Song of the Nightingale,’ one of Britain's best loved birds, whose song has established itself firmly in British heritage. They need to raise funds to complete the work , and perhaps you can help.

Katie,  a producer, and her partner Luke Massey, who is an award winning wildlife photographer,  are passionate about birds. They genuinely believe this film can make a difference to changing people’s perspectives of birds, and their importance to humans. Theye have filmed together for numerous different projects and most recently you can see their work on the the BBC’s 'Natural World: Super Fast Falcon’, Netflix series '72 Cutest' and Channel 5’s 'Wild Britain'. They are both keen conservationists and have filmed as part of the team that produced Chris Packham’s online film 'Cyprus: Massacre on Migration'.

They have already begun filming ‘The Last Song of the Nightingale' and the first story they’ve shot, 'Singing With Nightingales', was shortlisted for the Arts & Humanities Research Councils Film Festival for the Inspiration Award. Why the nightingale? Well it is now one of the countries most endangered songbirds, in the UK the Nightingale has declined 90% since 1970 - it has felt the full extent of habitat destruction, pesticides, climate change & persecution. What they want to show in this documentary is how normal people can make a difference. It does seem that a lot of reasons for the Nightingale's decline has been due to scrub clearance etc. which public pressure could in future stop. Of course the Nightingale’s story is not a standalone case, and ‘The Last Song of the Nightingale’ will use the Nightingale as the poster species to explain how all our migratory birds are facing the very same issues. Using a unique storytelling blend of animation, natural history and documentary style filmmaking, 'The Last Song of the Nightingale' will explore the Nightingale’s story. As the eminent Biologist and inventor of the term “Biodiversity”, Thomas Lovejoy, said; “If you take care of birds, you take care of most of the environmental problems in the world.” 

You can read more about the project and the team on their Crowdfunder page:

Katie and Luke are trying to raise £10,000 to complete the documentary. The Crowdfunder has lots of perks to go with donations, starting from £5+ so they aren’t asking for something for nothing.

Finally, they are also looking for any stories anyone might have about the Nightingale - they can be anything from legends, historical tales to Nightingales on your local patch! They have already shot some wonderful stories and have some fascinating ones yet to film.
Katie's email address is Information about Sunbittern Media can be found at

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