Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Today at the farmlands

 Female Lapwing- up to 10 pairs breeding this year 
 Female Shelduck, three to four pairs around prospecting
 Prospecting Great Crested Grebes 
 Red Kite- two today, also six Common Buzzards, Hobby, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel
 Northern Wheatear- a pair yesterday evening, a couple of Sand Martins around, 30+ Swift yesterday, a few Swallows moving through, Common Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover on the Southern Lake 
 The first young birds are appearing now, Mallard and Canada Geese chicks are about and Starling young are calling from the eaves of the Obs
Male Kestrel
 Alder Fly ( a few caddis in the trap last night and the night before a few moths including Pale Mottled Willows, Common Quaker, Nut Tree Tussock, Light Brown Apple Moth, White Shouldered House Moth and six Platyedra subcineria. Overall been pretty appalling for moths during this cold spring)  
 Dead Hedgehog (good to know they are still in the area) 
Harrowing of the North mound yesterday ahead of seeding with a sacrificial crop 

Azores Nature Trips 2016

Costs and Itineraries for 2016 trips (click on links) :


FIVE DAY PELAGIC AUGUST 2016    £698 (excluding flight)


Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Natural History Trip to the Azores 2016

A couple of spaces remaining 

Garden Kites

Was near Oxford yesterday with Holly and amazed to see the Red Kites hunting over people's gardens on housing estates. Took a few pics but the weather wasn't great. Really impressive so will give it another try when the weather better (i.e. not on a bank holiday!)

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sunday Sermon

People who experience significant depression, anxiety and grave concerns do not suffer from these things, they suffer from the inability to be stupid and blind. An ability (a gift) hard wired into the human condition, to project the species from its primate origins, through a period of rapid expansion, experimentation and social evolution ahead of a period of selection where those who have made the correct conclusions in the experiments, identified that the source of all problems is their own stupidity and developed behavioural patterns and connected to evolving systems that override the conditional hard wiring. These individuals will survive to develop an advanced system which now appears in embryonic form. Those who fail, will become extinct and pass un-noticed and unrecorded. Life is a game, not only a game of who can collect the most things and achieve status in a great distraction that echoes our simian pasts, a past from which we are fleeing to a future we are not quite ready for yet. It is a game of whose genes, values, creations and ideas will persist beyond the extinction event. During any extinction event, it is the macro fauna and the large powerful beasts who are the most vulnerable. Those who survive are smaller, light, adaptable, co-operative, patient and intelligent.

And a hymn about the revenge of nature. 

Song synopsis: Starts off with a commonplace story about humans showing little regard for nature, then the musical apocalypse as a great war between the planet and humans occurs and then at the end everyone's happy and learnt some lessons. Happy Days.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Funny Old Game

This article (here) appeared on Inside Croydon over the weekend, put together from comments that were part of an ironic post from my personal facebook page. On writing up the annual report  for 2015 I had got to the part where Viridor had taken the bird group's keys away and thought it would be amusing to add some dramatic narrative to that to see whether it would get past the Viridor proof reading so I shared that narrative on facebook with my friends. Next thing I know the narrative is part of the article above, the site ecologist is on the phone and I ended up meeting the Viridor managers yesterday, in a field! 

Funny old game this. The comments are actually true as of December 2015 (as that was the events I was reporting on - the December 2015 conservation update) and the concerns about the reasons for the group being downsized from 30 keys to 15 were/are genuine concerns. 

However since 2015 there has been some progress with the situation and part of that progress has been a response to some of the negative press that Viridor have been receiving, much of it from our side of things robustly supported with to up to date empirical evidence to support any comments.  So the importance of accurate reporting in the local media is needless to say critical in the process of working towards positive results for the nature reserve and the local community via the democratic process. 

Since December 2015, Viridor have started the ball rolling on various initiatives to move forward with the restoration in order to address the serious decline in the biodiversity and also initiatives to increase public engagement on the site. This involves working closer with not only our local bird and wildlife group but also with the regional conservation NGO's, getting in additional expertise to overview some of the conservation and restoration plans, allocating additional keys to active members (as opposed to the problem we have had in the past with keys being allocated to people who can't commit to the constant effort that keyholders are responsible for) and organising more public events for the local community. 

I personally would like to see the development of the habitats and employment of a warden as soon as possible to oversee the daily maintenance work on the reserve with an essential core working green team and additional volunteers (and also work experience and training opportunities) and working towards steadily increasing public access (as the site is still a working site) for more more naturalists and welcoming schools for educational visits, universities for research, the public for wildlife watching and recreation, health organisations for health activities (tackling health problems such as obesity through walking and cycling and also all the health benefits of building communities and individuals engaging with nature), ramblers, families etc etc. To achieve that objective adequate facilities are required, a visitors centre and the necessary reserve infrastructure. As this is no mean task, the engagement of some of the regional conservation organisations and key stakeholders will be essential in developing a flagship reserve, a reserve that due to the community model that it is being developed by will be more inclusive, maximising opportunities for nature that can provide immense community benefits, for a local community that need that resource.

Another recent positive step forward has been the establishment of the Conservation and Access Management Committee- the body that will oversee the implementation of the Conservation Management Plan and developing public access. 

As Beddington Farmlands is being developed as part of a community model, commitment to allocating the necessary resources in achieving objectives by the stakeholders is needless to say essential and as this is part of a democratic process that commitment can be greatly facilitated by public pressure (I personally would like to see demonstrations about the importance of Beddington Farmlands and also public demonstration of the great concerns and negative impact that the largely un-mitigated incinerator continues to present) and engagement from volunteers, developing support from the wider social and environmental network, the local media and there's even the chance of local politicians doing something useful (except for jumping on the hard won success of others once all the efforts and obstacles have been overcome and success is guaranteed) - but I agree its important not to get too ambitious! 

 The Conservation Access and Management Committee at a recent field meeting