Sunday, 16 June 2019

Bernwood Meadows etc

It's that time of year where there's not many birds on birding blogs (unless you're on Fair Isle or some other vagrant trap). This weekend I spent a few hours at Bernwood Meadows looking for Forester Moths and also did some time at the Old Vicarage. Its has been a very wet week with two months rain falling in one or two days. The moth traps have been fairly quiet as a result. I read on the Upper Thames Moth Blog (see side bar) that there was an unprecedented emergence of Foresters in the region but in the blustery damp conditions today I could only find a rather storm damaged looking single at Bernwood Meadows. At least the cooler conditions meant it was easy to photograph as were many other insects that were rather lethargic in the conditions. 

 Black Hairstreak at Bernwood Meadows - at least four on the perimeter

 Forester on Knapweed 
 Green Oak Tortrix- a mini swarm on a rather desiccated looking Oak 
 Olive Pearl in the Old Vicarage trap 
 Anania fuscalis at Bernwood Meadows- a rather unimpressive lifer 
 Varied Coronet at the Old Vicarage 
 Burnished Brass giving it side glare evils 
 I was tempted to conclude this was a Tawny Marbled Minor due to the tawny coloured central section. I've been lumping all my minors into Marbled Minor agg as have yet to be driven into the dark underworld of looking at the genitals of moths under a microscope- certainly heading down that road though and would to know how it is done 
 Highlight of the Beddington Farmlands trap in the week was a small influx of Diamond-back Moths
Common Spotted Orchids- large numbers at Bernwood Meadows and also what are presumably a few over Green-winged Orchids 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Mitcham Common

Did a morning on one of the areas of Mitcham Common. An impressive species rich grassland area with marshy patches and well over 200 Southern Marsh Orchids. 

 Southern Marsh Orchids (above and below) 

 Species rich meadows dominated by Sainfoin 
 Female Large Red Damselfly 
One to id

Friday, 7 June 2019

Little Oak Days

Thursdays and Fridays are the days of the week that I have to solely focus on making money for our organisation, the rest of the week I split time between making money and spending it on our ecological projects/research. Most of our paid work at Little Oak is pretty routine stuff involving maintenance and basically hard and repetitive work and most of the exciting work is in our projects, although we do transfer products from our research and project arm to our commercial arm too.  

However even with the routine work we regularly find interesting things growing in people's gardens and are always exploring opportunities to encourage more biodiversity focused management of garden and urban green spaces. We've recently started an Irecord account for one of our show gardens on the Bedzed eco-village, Gillian's Garden, and in the past worked on a project with Sutton Council called Biodiversity gardens where we did biobltiz's in gardens, developed management plans, recording systems and carried out the conservation enhancements. 

However this eco-management approach to gardens is a difficult thing to get customers to buy into and the Biodiversity Gardens project was subsidised through funding and in partnership with the council (before we fell out!). With a bit of encouragement and seeding money the take up for the project was encouraging. When we've applied for funding in recent years to continue the project, the main funding agent in our area is Viridor who have so far rejected three applications that we have made- presumably as part of their oppressive and exploitative agenda for the local area.  

As always and ever the solutions to the biodiversity crisis is very simple but the decline is systematically, methodically and deliberately being created by corporations like Viridor and in rural areas is being driven by supermarkets and agro-chemical business. 

Nonetheless there is a growing number of people who are getting into people power conservation and many more people are now wildlife gardening and making space for nature. Hopefully as things grow we can overthrow the Ecocidal Tyrants that currently control our natural systems. Our best way of doing that is through a combination of displacing them with affordable consumer choices, strong marketing and educational campaigns, forming partnerships and for the stubborn ones- direct action to attempt to stop their destruction. Hopefully in a more ecologically enlightened future there will be legal frameworks that dictate more rights for nature so that's why we are also involved in policy and green politics as our business can only thrive in a progressive political environment. It's certainly not easy but we are certainly making steady progress. With privatisation running a mock and funding streams being cut for traditionally NGO fronted conservation, the role of self funding private organisations like ourselves is presumably going to grow in the future.

 Our work with block management companies involves typically sites like this one. There is plenty of scope to set up bird feeding stations, bird and bat boxes, to plant bee and pollinator corridors, wildflower strips and to plant shrubs and trees which provide habitat. Despite our best efforts most sites are managed in an ecological oppressed way and generally the demand is to concentrate on health and safety and basic maintenance. However a site such as this is pretty well maintained and not every client or customer is going to want to create a miracle. 
An interesting garden this week was this steep chalk slope in Warlingham. The neighbours had Common Spotted Orchids growing in their lawn and were attempting to develop the slope into chalk grassland. 
Gillian's Garden- recently set up a new irecord account for this garden to set up an ongoing recording system

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Beddington Farmlands and the Wandle Valley Regional Park

Viridor have restricted our access to Beddington Farmlands so I've decided to use the opportunity to explore the wider Wandle Valley Regional Park this year. To the north of the farmlands is MITCHAM COMMON , part of the same Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and overall (compared to the farmlands) is relatively under watched. I did bump into another birder Nick (who reported a Rosy-coloured Starling on the common from 18th May!) and also popped in to see the Mitcham Common warden Martin. There is quite a bit of historical recording from the area with some rare localised species. The habitat is acid grassland, heathland and other grassland and scrub with several water bodies so it is quite different to the farmlands and there are entomological and botanical communities that are unique to this part of the SINC.

If all goes to plan I'll do targeted visits to several key areas over the coming season 1) Mill Green, 2) The Gun Site, 3) One Island  4) Bidders Pond 5) Mill House Ecology Centre Field, 6) Seven Islands and to a lesser degree 7) The Golf Course

Beyond Mitcham Common there are other key green spaces that make up the Wandle Valley Regional Park including the Watermeads, Ravensbury Park and Morden Hall Park. Further north there is Lambeth Cemetery and St Goerge's Park and also the Thames. To the south of the farmlands is obviously Beddington Park but there is also Carshalton Park and the Grove on one arm of the Wandle and Wandle Park on the other.  There are also isolated green spaces and of course the Wandle green corridor itself. 

The long term plan is to manage Beddington Farmlands as the coreland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park so considering things are such a mess at the farmlands at the moment seems to make sense to start exploring this area and expanding the recording area- who knows maybe in future we will develop the Beddington Farmlands Bird and Willdife report into the 'Beddington Farmlands and Wandle Valley Regional Park Bird and Wildlife Report'. It was always a long term objective so seems a good time to start that now. 

I've got a new bike so looking forward to exploring over the next few weeks. 

 Green Hairstreak on the heather patch on the Ecology Centre Field
 Emperor eating a Cinnabar- there have been good numbers of Cinnabar in the Beddington Farmlands light trap recently 
 One Island on Mitcham Common
 Can't get away from the incinerator! This is the view from one of the Mitcham Common view points. 
 Fields of Sorrel on Mill Green 
 Pale Oak Beauty at Beddington Farmlands- the empty circles on the hind wing are distinctive
 I identified this as Cream Wave (Beddington Farmlands) 
 Went for Rustic-shoulder Knot on this one (Beddington Farmlands) 
 I went for Notocelia trimaculana on this 
 Another Foxglove Pug- stunning little things 
 Crown Vetch growing on the main railway bridge over the farmlands - need to check but I think a first for the farmlands 
Had these tell tale signs of Hornet Moth in a poplar in a customers garden last week 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Weekend Moths

A bit of a flying visit to Oxford this weekend as needed to be back in London to sort out the Little Oak work teams. Met up with Barry Hudson (Secretary of Oxfordshire Ornithological Society, the OOS) and we had a good chat about the different conservation challenges in socially challenging urban areas like Beddington Farmlands and more rural, wealthy and Conservative areas like Oxfordshire. Hopefully some cross pollination opportunities. Beddington Farmlands is certainly a hot bed for radical conservation experimentation and with some high brow sophisticated legal and scientific input from the OOS in exchange for radical high risk input from our side, there seems to be some good opportunities for some joint ventures. 

Stayed around the Old Vicarage doing the moths and some garden recording- 606 species now on the garden list. Also did a bit of planting in the walled garden.

I got back to London last night in time to do a bit of moth trapping here too. 

 Privet Hawkmoth at the Old Vic
 Male and female Pale Tussock at the Old Vic 
 Grass Rivulet at the Old Vic 
 Foxglove Pug at Beddington 
 Pug sp. Grey? Worn Freyer's? Beddington Farmlands 
 Brown Silver-line at Beddington 
 Rustic Shoulder Rustic, Beddington 
Cypress Carpet, Beddington Farmlands 

Saturday, 1 June 2019

High Summer Approaching

My brother (and business partner) Steve is away for the next two months so I'll be manning the business which means I'll be spending more time locally for the next few weeks (apart from sneaking out to Uganda for a couple of weeks in July). Gives me a chance to do a bit more exploring locally. Viridor have restricted our access to Beddington Farmlands further so that provides more incentive to check out other green spaces in the local area and do some more exploring and recording of the Wandle Valley Regional Park . Increasing the recording area will strengthen the significance of the coreland at Beddington Farmlands so Viridor's attempt to weaken us will backfire on them as always. In fact I've noticed every time Viridor and the Council make an exploitative move, more local groups and individuals that suffer from it are brought closer together in an increasingly larger and far reaching group. If it wasn't for Viridor trying to kill everyone and everything in our local area I wouldn't have joined up with the Green Party, Lush, Localism or Extinction Rebellion and now we are all on the same side with numbers almost as big as the whole Viridor organisation now. Funny how it all works- how destruction gives rise to constructive power.   Extinction Rebellion have also sent Viridor a letter calling for an end to their exploitative agenda and for more cooperation with the local community. Will see what they come back with. Quite a few members of XR itching to get the boot in but hopefully things can move forward in a more creative and intelligent way. It's now down to Viridor to choose what way it will be. 

With high summer approaching there's no better time to be getting out in the field looking for insects and plants. Gillian and I did an evening walk round Howell Hill yesterday- at least 30 Small Blues and a nice selection of orchids.

The moth trapping at Beddington has also picked up. 

 Small Blue at Howell Hill (above and below) 

 Small Heath at Howell Hill 
 Fragrant Orchid 
 Bee Orchid 
 Common Twayblade
 Common Spotted Orchid 
Broomrape sp. At least five or six of these. 
 Willow Warbler, Howell Hill, a singing bird presumably holding territory (one of the few territories in Surrey) 
 Swifts- up to 200 most evenings at Beddington recently 
 Caloptilia alchimiellia - Beddington Farmlands 
 Waved Umber 
 Hawthorn Moth 
Pug sp- Grey Pug?