Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Beddington Farmlands Open Day

 Sam Woods 'Corporate birder' 

Hopefully a mile stone day today with the first of the Viridor led nature open days. Public engagement with the site is a primary objective of the site development so good to see this progressing with hopefully,in addition to our bird group public events and associate members tours,  will increase the level of public engagement.

When the incinerator is completed, a reserve ranger will be employed to hopefully develop this side of things even further to include schools visits, researchers accessing the site and a growing local naturalists community through our bird and wildlife group. Eventually as the restoration moves to completion further public access for amenity and recreation will also be introduced outside the nature disturbance free areas.

Still a very long way to go but some very strong positive developments lately including the commitment to creating the wet grassland habitat (starting in a couple of months time), some progress towards securing some kind of future for the Lapwing breeding habitat and today's development with increasing public access.

After several years of decline at the farmlands, things are beginning to look up a bit. However there is still a long way to go and there's no time for complacency or even savouring this moment. New threats are on the horizon and promises are worthless until they are delivered. Also the elephant in the room remains:- the incinerator is a largely unmitigated negative impact on the site that can only be neutralised with development of a visitors centre and ecological hub on the residential side of the resource. As an interim measure there will be visitors facilities on the waste and industrial side of the resource but needless to say such a limited facility will not deliver the full potential of the site as a public resource (e.g. such as the public engagement facilities at the London Wetland Centre or Rainham Marshes). There also remains the possibility of an air quality hazard to local people in the form of minute particles and dioxins from the incinerator.  Recent scientific reports are inconclusive on the nature of this threat. Local groups intend on carrying out independent air quality monitoring to assess this hazard.

However today was a good day for the future of the farmlands and hopefully the start of more of them!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Birdfair Weekend

 Some of my purchases- it was an expensive weekend, got a new 100-400mm canon lens, a owling torch, a sculpture of a Firecrest by Mark Andrews, Flood and Fisher's latest instalment of brilliance and also spent today kitting out the camper van for our autumn adventure
 I love this. Next to a Steve Gale original that I bought on a previous BirdFair.
 Fellow Inglorious Bustards, Niki and Simon (senior RSPB renegades) wearing Holly's artwork that she did for a new venture that Niki and Simon are up to based in Southern Spain aimed at younger naturalists. Holly and I are travelling down there in a couple of weeks in the camper. 
 Simon's new Short-toed Eagle tattoo. 
 Another personal highlight was Mark Constantine (the magician behind a great many things in Birding ), Magnus Robb and Killian Mullarney doing a Sound Approach talk. Also epic to see so many friends from across the network with some really cutting edge initiatives going on including Champions of the Flyway, REGUA and the World Land Trust, Avery and Packham's people power campaign, Biotope are pushing boundaries and great to see the Azores crews. Still worrying to see such a dominance of traditional old white middle class and the Optics arm races but the progressive contingent well represented too. 
I really liked this.  

Friday, 19 August 2016

Black Terns

 17 Black Terns . Roger and the crew were staking out at the hide this morning in promising conditions which delivered. 1 Sandwich Tern, 4 Common Tern, 2 Greenshank and 21 Black Tern including these 17 which were circling the lake and thanks to a call from Roger I managed to see them from the obs.
Rescued a Feral Pigeon with Holly a couple of days ago but unfortunately it bought it. I decided to throw it out the window so that it could have a final flight and then set the night cam on it to see if anything would come and eat it- something did. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Clouded Yellows and Meadows

 Clouded Yellow- had four or five on the southern mound with Holly. Saw Czech and he said he had 35+ up there! (Dodgy pic as camera lens is still in for repair) 
 Sparrowhawk- one of three from yesterday (they seem to be on the move at the moment). Also Common Buzzard, Red Kite and Hobby yesterday so looks like raptors are beginning to move. 
 Female Light Brown Apple moth- wind is from the north east at the moment so the clear nights are cool- not many moths- a few Square-spot Rustics, a Rush Veneer, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Large Yellow Underwing, Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, White-point and Oak Nycteoline, 
The Southern Mound has had its autumn hay cut- earlier than usual due to the need for Ed to get in there and clear some physical contamination- some metal rods and bits of concrete. Shame to see all the Great Burnet go (there were 20+ plants up there eventually) but hopefully will reappear next year and the mowing regimes are designed to encourage a species rich habitat. The new RAMP (the restoration management plan ) has been signed off by the council recently and will soon be implemented. The RAMP supplements the Conservation Management Plan (CMP)- basically the CMP is the vision and the RAMP is the action plan- how to implement the vision. 
 Spent yesterday evening with Gillian checking out some local LNRs which despite living in the borough all my life and never visited. The first was The Warren SINC which is off Kings Road.
 Then Belmont Pastures LNR 
 and finally Banstead Downs SSSI

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Beetles

 A beetle influx last night at the light trap. This longhorn beetle sp was the highlight.

 Looked like four main species involved. About 20+ of the violet ground beetle looking one, 100+ of the small reddish one and singles of the other two in the photo above
 Swarms of these on 100 acre in the nettles
 Patches like this in the nettles across Jim's Bed and presumably elsewhere 
 The moth trap was quite lively with moths too- this Canary-shouldered Thorn is only the third record for the farmlands (New for me) 
 I think it's a male
 Still not worked out what this is- keep seeing the odd one of these- maybe the same one- getting more and more worn and more obscure
 Freyer's Pug?
 The sacrificial crop is developing on the east side of the north mound- corn flowers, corn marigolds, lindseed and mustards flowering up there. If all goes to plan this will provide a significant area of seed crop for winter feed for the wintering seed eaters. Its basically a gesture by Viridor and their evil mates to chuck down a bit of seed to appease the onslaught they are planning to carry out on the east side of the site- along Beddington Lane- see next pics.  
 Oak Field Beds- this area of wetland lies between the incinerator build site and Beddington Lane Industrial area. Under imminent threat from developers (been changing hands between Thames Water and speculative investors)- the council are even trying to de-designate it as MOL to enable developers.
 Part of it has already been destroyed to make way for a new road- despite there being an existing access road. Presumably the old road will be sold off with the Oak Field beds. Incidentally the Oaks (the name sake of the Oak Field Beds) were illegally felled in what the council described as the greatest Tree Preservation Order offence in the local authority history. The landowner claims that they just disappeared one weekend and he doesn't know anything about it. He has basically got away with it. He is even refusing to acknowledge a compulsory replacement notice- the council is so weak they won't even bother trying to prosecute. The criminality and corruption surrounding the whole development of the Beddington Farmlands Site of Importance for Nature Conservation is astounding and once again proves that the planning and political system does not protect nature and biodiversity against capitalist interests and requires fundamental reform. It also sends out a stark and frightening warning that we are heading into a capitalist dictatorship and democracy is slipping away under our noses with only minimal resistance. The dictatorship will of course ultimately be abused in the most horrific ways and history will once again repeat itself and punish generations who fail to defend their own freedom and resources.
 This Burnished Brass- the moth made of 'gold leaf' was present in the area that the capitalists are planning on destroying. The vegetation has become impenetrable here- ecologists cant get in to monitor it anymore either- which I presume is the reason they have fenced it off. Traditionally has been the staging site for up to 40 Green Sandpipers. Today I managed to walk a few meters into the area and flushed this burnished brass and up to 6 Mother of Pearls- the area holds precious vast biodiversity communities. The Capitalist do not give a flying fuck. They presumably want a warehouse in there to sell shit to people whose brains are unfortunately filled with shit. 
Willow Warbler- lest we forget the birds on a birding blog Sir Ian! A few lemon coloured juvs about. Pretty quiet on the bird migrant front today.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Bits and Bobs

Here's a few bits and bobs from the last week or so:

 Two juvenile Little Egrets- on 100 acre yesterday evening found by Christian- a new member to the bird group.  Been a few autumn migrants in the week.
 The first Snipe of the autumn (been a couple about). Also been a Wood Sand in the week (I heard it from the obs), 10 Green Sand, 2 Common Sandpiper and up to 30 Lapwing (below). 

 A few autumn ducks including up to 6 Teal, a Shoveler and 3 Gadwall. Also the odd flock of Swift moving through, a Buzzard on Thursday, Hobby most days and mixed tit and warbler flocks moving around the edges. 
 I presume this is a rufous form of one of the regular Knothorns?
 Oak Processionary Moths. Had six on one night and singles on other nights. I've been asked to report these to the local authority and collect the specimens. The species is a controlled species due the risks (potentially fatal) they pose as caterpillars.  
 White-point- in Gillian's Garden on Tuesday when maintaining the wildlife garden there 
 Yellow-barred Brindle- a new for the year
 Oak Bush Cricket- had the odd one coming to the light trap and found the odd one in the Obs garden. On the insect front also had 6 Migrant Hawkers together yesterday evening on Mile Road Bridge and still some Red-eye Damselflies on the Northern Lake 
 The Obs freezer- complete with naturally killed birds that I will practise preparing skins on 

Prepared a skin for the juvenile Crossbill that Pooran found on Bedzed- a very scarce local bird that's well worth keeping for prosperity