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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

How to Survive the Sixth Extinction....

How to survive the sixth extinction without going psychotic, slaughtering the local capitalists and hanging them from the village sign

PART ONE: ACCEPT REALITY

1) The Apocalypse is here
2) Human well being, biodiversity and the health of the Planet is being transferred into capital, which billionaires and their facilitators are using to construct personal material paradises of excess and decadence to overcompensate for their inner misery, emptiness and inability to connect with anything meaningful and unfortunately turning the rest of the world into a wasteland so others can share in this misery, extinction, death and cancer in the process
3) You are most likely a co-operator in this system,  in effect digging your own grave, submitting to the will of others weaker than you because you lack the strength to project your own will, selling yourself short, being so much less than your best and creating an environment in which your children (if you have been selfish enough to have them) will live short, un-prosperous, carcinogenic  hopeless lives.
4) Your only sensible option is to declare total war on yourself and your submission to this dark and terrible situation.

TUNE IN TOMORROW FOR PART 2

Associate Members and Surrey Bird Club Bird Walk


 Female Wheatear 

We had the Associate Members and Surrey Bird Club bird walk today. A good turn out with 30 participants. The continuing cold northerly had put the breaks on migration but some migrants were still getting through with 1 Red Kite over, 4 Northern Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail, 4 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Common Sandpiper, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Sedge Warbler, 10+ Common Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler, 25+ Swallow and 1 House Martin.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Beddington Bird Report 2015



Here's a sneak preview of the 2015 Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report (with a soundtrack about Corporate Responsibility for Viridor) . Been working on the report this weekend,. Popped into the farm this morning- first Hobby of the year, Glenn had the first Greenshank and Garden Warbler, a couple of Swifts (one now after the Hobby ate one), 30+ Swallow, a few Sand and House Martins, Yellow Wagtail over, Little Ringed Plover, a White Wagtail on the southern lake and a couple of Common Sandpiper. So quite a few migrants around despite the really cold north wind.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Redstart

 Female Redstart in the nets this morning. Only the second time the Beddington ringng station have ringed this species.
 It's that time of year again
 Large Red Damselfly in Gillian's garden
Common Mourning Bee? Probably a tick for me. If I can find the time and will, will attempt to have a look at the Bees of Beddington this year, considering Steven Falk's new book should be responsible for a bit of a trend in Bee identification and resources to assist with that. 
Platycheirus sp. Hoverflies are so last year. 
Syrphus ribesii
 View of the Southern Lake with the new tree planting 

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Hovers are back!

 Eupeodes luniger- the first day this year I've seen some hoverflies at the farmlands  (although I haven't been around much in recent weeks) 
 Syrphus ribesii 
 Eristalis sp?
 Epistrophe eligans 
 The other Iceland Gull (the first cycle bird) 
 Tufted Ducks- 118 on site at the moment
 Chiffchaff- still plenty of warblers around today including 10+ Chiffchaff, 5-6 Lesser Whitethroat, 20+ Blackcap and 3-4 Willow Warbler
Cowslips on the mound 

Saturday, 16 April 2016

North wind hold up

  Barn Swallow
 Barn Swallows
 Sand Martin
 Barn Swallows and Sand Martins
 Barn Swallows and Sand Martins. 100+ Barn Swallows today and a few Sand and House Martins, mainly hawking and resting on the Southern Lake. The wind turned round to a cold north-westerly overnight presumably being responsible for the fall of hirundines (it was quite warm yesterday).  
Male Whinchat . Other migrants included 4 Wheatear, 6 Yellow Wagtail and 1 Water Pipit. 
 Two Iceland Gulls today, one the wintering first-winter and this bird which is either an advanced second winter (the bill pattern is almost adult looking?) or a retarded third winter bird (extensive barring in the coverts and tail). 
 Short-eared Owl- a migrating bird getting hassled by the local corvids 

 This bird looked quite small and short winged so good to consider a migrating Long-eared Owl. However the white trailing edge to the wing (visible in bottom of three photos) and the dark primary tips (as opposed to fine barring) confirm it to be a Shot-eared Owl. Interesting to see how strong the scapular bar appears at distance. 
 Male Blackcap. Lots of warblers today included 10+ Blackcap, 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Willow Warbler, 7 Common Whitethroat, 5-6 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler and 1-2 Cetti's Warblers. 
 Adult female Reed Bunting. 4-5 Reed Buntings about. 
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Weather chart for today- a north-westerly pulling in Arctic cold air with warmer air south of the southern flank of the low pressure. Presumably birds were moving up in the warmer air and flew into the cooler conditions. 

Friday, 15 April 2016

Back to Beddington

 Not quite the view I've got used to over the last few weeks! 
 The new Conservation and Access Management Committee (CAMC) - the new management group for the nature reserve. We had a field visit and first meeting yesterday.
 Red Kite from the window yesterday
 Lunar Marbled Brown- had the trap on a couple of nights but not too much going on. This was the highlight. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2014 Birdwatch Review




To purchase a copy please email littleoakgroup@btinternet.com

Price is £10 UK, E15  for Europe

More from Dom here: Azores rares read all about them

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Plot 3 Bioblitz: Balkan Ecology Project Day 6


 Long-horned Bee
 Field Cricket sp
 ?
 ?
 Festoon
 Green Lizard (we think) 
 Balkan Green Lizard
 Wall Lizard
Plot 3

Spent this morning in the Plot 2 area birding: Additional birds included a couple of Hawfinches, Long-legged Buzzard and White Storks.
Spent the afternoon doing a bioblitz on Plot 3. We only had a couple of hours to get a snap shot of the area and recorded 96 'species' (most not identified). The most notable features were the dense population of Lizards, mainly Balkan Green Lizards and also lots of Field Crickets. The habitat was coarse grass, plantains, speedwells, crane's bills, scentless mayweed with scattered small shrubs of Dog Rose, Hawthorn and Blackthorn. The perimeter was mainly Elm and Prunus.
The plan is to develop the area for organic farming but considering the dense population of Lizards might need a new plan!
The reason for the dense population of Lizards might have something to do with the extremely dense population of fauna in the ground vegetation (see video below from one sweep of the net)

Monday, 11 April 2016

Birding: Balkan Ecology Project Day 5

 Skylark- the Steppe Area hosts a very dense population. 
 Cuckoo- great to see such a strong presence of Cuckoos. Usually one audible at any point in the day and seen up to three together.
 A few raptors were migrating through today including this Osprey circling the village. Also two Montagu's Harrier moving north. 
 Spent a bit of time around the monastery this morning. A male Collared Flycatcher, 100+ Siskin, Crossbill, Black Woodpecker (calling), Syrian Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Coal Tits, Black Redstart, male Bullfinch, Song Thrush (imitating a Black Woodpecker at times), Robins and Blackbird. 
Walked along the Plot 2 area track and back across the fields. Absolutely bursting with farmland birds Skylarks in the fields, Woodlarks along the transition area, Nightingale, Corn Buntings (abundant), a few Yellowhammers, 2 Cirl Bunting, Cuckoos, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrushes, Blackbirds (on the wooded mountain slope), Black Woodpecker (calling from mountain), Tree Pipits, 1 Osprey, 5 Marsh Harrier (in the fields), 3 Montagu's Harrier, 3 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and 1 Hobby.


Woodlark, Cuckoo, Corn Bunting, Blackbird, Nightingale, Tree Pipit and Yellowhammer