Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Not the migrants we are looking for

 The closest I got to a summer migrant today at the farmlands was this 'White Wagtail'. With reference to Peter Adriaens and co's article in Dutch Birding 32:4 HERE the flanks look like a score of 1 and the grey on the mantle appears to about Kodak Grey scale value of 10 which are good for White Wagtail but I didn't see the clinching grey rump (the rump patch between the two shortest tertials should be grey, not black) or the pattern of the outer tail feather so its going down as a presumed White Wagtail. 
A Rook on the move, circling at height. There were also quite a few Common and Lesser Black-backed Gulls going over (or on the lake) today. Also 8 Common Buzzards throughout the day. 
 This male summer Brambling flew over south east corner. Also had a handful of Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit going over. There were 2 Fieldfare on the mound and a Redwing by the hide. 
 This Chiffchaff in the south east has been present for several weeks. Also 4 Green Sandpipers in south east. 
 Still 10 Water Pipits about , some getting into summer plumage but I could only get a poor photo of this largely winter plumaged bird. Also had singing Meadow Pipit on the mound (be great if these return as a breeding bird- the habitat is looking good enough) and also a Skylark up there. Had a good chat with Pete Walker (the Viridor aftercare manager) today and it all really does sound very positive at the moment with loads of activity on the restoration. I'm almost tempted to hold my breath (although got a direct action meeting tonight with Extinction Rebellion Group- now things are improving round here , there's going to be a lot to discuss tonight and what the best way forward is- we might not have to resort to final measures) 
 This large gull has been around a while. I identified it as a hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed but today it flashed its primary tips which seemed to show quite a bit of white so I was wondering whether it might be an adult summer Northern Herring Gull (argentatus). I wouldn't mind getting a photo of the open wing.
Lapwing have taken up territory on 100 acre and south east corner now. Incredibly we still have at least 10 breeding pairs (in the 'middle' of London) but the clock is ticking for a long term management conservation management plan for them as Thames Water have decommissioned this area from water treatment so without active management the vast area of wetland will dry out- its a priority at the moment to get this long term management plan set up

Monday, 18 March 2019

Summer Migrant at last

On the Oxfordshire shift this weekend. Highlights included 2 circling Common Cranes nearby,  Bittern and finally my first summer migrant of the year- a Barn Swallow. 

I stopped off at the two bridges in Ickford as this spot always looks like it could attract something- had 6 Curlews, 1 Redshank and a small flock of Wigeon. Also heard Wigeon calling over the Old Vic last night.

Ebird list from Otmoor HERE

Common Cranes circling 
 Black-necked Pheasant (colchicus group) 
A presumed Black-necked (colchicus) x Grey-rumped Pheasant (torquatus) with a hint of white neck ring 
As if life in the Old Vicarage community was not busy enough we have had two Ponies living in the garden over this winter after they were evicted from a nearby paddock. So now that's four human adults, one human baby,  five dogs and two ponies living in one house. 
Jacob doing a Ray Purchase impression from Toast of London which I am proud to say I have taught him to do 

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Minor Matters

We are still yet to get a proper (Sub-Saharan) migrant at the farmlands this year despite LRPs and hirundines turning up already at most nearby patches. The period of strong Atlantic winds continues which is not helping migrants.  However there were some minor changes with a pair of new Wigeon joining our long staying three birds, a new male Stonechat, a Fieldfare, 5 Redwing and what looked like an intergrade Pied x White Wagtail. There was also a small passage of Chaffinch (15+) heading north with 2 Brambling going over with them. Surprisingly two male Meadow Pipits were singing on the mounds despite the very blustery conditions. Full sightings from today HERE

The moth trap has been steady over the last few days. Oak Nycteoline was new for the year today and had a Common Plume earlier in the week  but otherwise the usual Common and Small Quakers, Clouded Drabs, Twin-spot Quakers, Early Greys, Oak Beautys, Agonopterix alstromeriana, the odd Satellite and also had a Chestnut today. 

 Wigeon feeding on the new grassland edge to the Southern Lake 
 One of the few migrants today- a male Common Stonechat 
 Presumed intergrade Pied x White Wagtail. The grey on the flanks looks too extensive for a pure White and the contrast seems too great for a pure Pied. 
 Common Plume 
 Oak Beauty- been a good season (early Spring) for them 
Chestnut- a bit of local scarcity 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Chomsky at 90

Interesting article about Chomsky at 90 years old. HERE. Chomsky's been a front man for the US anti-establishment / anti Capitalism for as long as I can remember and still going strong. In many ways this article sums up some of the most important fundamental flaws in any establishment and the importance of a constant rebellion agaisnt any kind of established order. It's an eternal struggle best understood in the context of pendulum swings and battles won rather than any actual conclusive final end to the endless war.

Hegemonic common sense is a good phrase- a reference to the agreed story line that an establishment will endlessly regurgitate while leaving out clear massive fundamental flaws in that story such as the silliness of the myth of eternal macro economic growth or down playing the existential threat posed by ecological and climate meltdown. In the past we had myths of Sons of God and burning hells and now we have myths of Human Gods, Money Gods and the real possibility of a burning hell here as climate breakdowns.  Real common sense is abandoned (as it was under former hegemonic ideologies) as the hegemony exert their version of common sense and then people who advocate real common sense are then perceived as outsiders/ untouchables.That fear of that social exclusion and the benefits of going along with fundamentally flawed story is a massive controlling force and pulls the majority into line.The dogma of economic growth and the power of the free market are clear myths that are constantly blasted out over the beacons of the masses but are clearly completely insane ideas. That doesn't stop society from moving in that direction as the hegemony is established by effectively hacking the group psychology by exploiting vulnerabilities within the human condition. Power is a spell and those who understand it cannot be controlled under it. Whether your society in under the spell of a Christain Myth or a Capitalist myth, individual empowerment lies within that understanding. 

For those interested in nature, the establishment is clearly anti-nature and since the great recession of 2007/2008 and as a result of austerity, regulatory cuts and funding cuts that assault on nature by the establishment has accelerated. We have seen a resistance to that e.g. the likes of Avery/Packham, The People's March for Wildlife, Hen Harrier Day, the rise of legal cases and conflicts agaisnt public bodies by bird groups (e.g. the Beddington Farmlands Bird Group), The Green Surge (a large increase in Green party membership), the rise of Extinction Rebellion direct action group, the rise of the Child Revolutionaries such as Greta Thunberg, Bella Lack, BirdGirl etc and overall a radicalisation of nature conservation.

Since world war 2, the current fundamental Capitalist paradigm has been the framework for business as usual, a framework that undervalues nature massively. However that  framework is now clearly crumbling as the area of common sense outside of hegemonic common sense is being activated in response to the myths, as those myths are debunked as the consequences of propagating lies start to build up - such as the impacts of ecological meltdown and climate change.

However the nature of change is that the establishment will continue propagating lies for as long as they can hold on and in that environment the source of reliable information (as Chomsky explains) is generally small journals, independent media sources etc. Journals like British Wildlife are very high quality and there are numerous social media outlets that deliver reliable information. This blog aims to be one of those sources for local issues around Beddington Farmlands and the battle we are having with our local Capitalists and their local authority and politician facilitators.

The last days of any society cycle is frightening as chaos escalates until a new set of rules, a new set of values are won which will form the basis of the next cycle of hegemonic common sense. The radical element of society will then go back underground and then start gathering momentum again to overthrow that cycle as the flaws in that system accumulate. At first its your crazies (climate alarmists in the 1960s and 1970s were widely considered as nutters) but as things move on and more people find themselves on the wrong line of that hegemony the number of radicals start to increase until there are enough to overthrow the hegemony. We are moving to that overthrow stage.

 It's an endless process but it is a process of constant refining, constant improving- constant evolution- sometimes elements of that evolution is a Feng Shui or a change of guard rather than any tangible improvement- it gives others a chance to have a go. Establishing orders requires a large body of the populace to be gullible and rather stupid but during a radical age that stupidity is dangerous. In the early stages of a cycle that stupidity is beneficial for society as a whole but at the end it will be a big factor in who will be the victims of a revolution. My advice to anyone is wake up before its too late for you.

The main thing is to make sure us individuals are on the right line of history as it starts unfolding and we are in a radical age and there is an increasing pressure to pick sides and get off the sidelines (as the sidelines are being carved up in the chaos) . The establishment is crystallising into a smaller and smaller group of increasingly powerful wealthy oligarchs, their politician protectors and the increasing herd of drones that serve them (you may be well be one of those drones- we all are, I am but can only detach from their growing power as much as possible).

The victory for a more nature centric society will be won when that herd of drones turns on the capitalist oligarchs and their lackeys in greater and greater numbers. That is what we are doing on our local patch, trying to build that movement locally and link into the wider political movement. Good to see the scale of the youth climate strikes across the world today.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Kittiwake hunt

Been looking for an inland storm blown Kittiwake in the recent gales. There's an interesting history of Kittiwakes in London with some major inland movements in late winter/early Spring. The first documented event occurred in 1959 on 4 March when 187 flew through the city with flocks over King George V and Leatherhead . In 1985 250 birds were seen including 150 on 28 April and 124 flew through Barnes on 25 March 1986.  1993 was the 'big year' when 1129 were recorded, almost all in one day on 25th January which included groups across London and a build up to 642 birds on Queen Mother Reservoir by dusk. The last big influx was 1999 with approx 1000 birds moving through the London area including some major passage over Beddington Farmlands with 120 on 7 February  and 370 on  17 February 1999. 

So spurred on by these past events and considering the recent north westerly gales I've spent quite a few hours in the past days looking for Kittys locally- a fruitless effort unfortunately. There have been a few inland across the country and at least one in London at QE2. 

So today I cheated and took the family to Eastbourne, where we visited the Pirates Treasure House with Jacob and then I managed to sneak in an hour on Eastbourne Pier where even there I could barely scrape in, with a single bird flying over the Victorian tea rooms. 

 Adult winter Kittiwake 
Not sure Jacob enjoyed the blustery conditions 

Birds of London by Andrew Self
The Birds of Beddington Farmlands by Peter Alfrey et al

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Keep Taking the Meds

67 species of bird for this weekend at Beddington EBIRD LIST HERE, the highlights being 2 adult Med Gulls, a Jack Snipe on 100 acre, 8 Water Pipits still and Glenn had Little Owl and Brambling. Unfortunately no Kittiwakes today locally in the extreme northwest winds but birds have been turning up inland across the country.

Nothing particularly rare in the moth trap although good numbers of Early Grey and Twin-spot Quaker this year (and of early spring moths overall).

 Adult Med #1
 Adult Med #2
 Another one of adult Med #1
 Early Greys, Diurnea fagella and March Moths 
 The Viridor 'Reservoir Dogs' . Everyone wants to be Mr Orange. These bad boys have finally been performing and there has been genuine commitment recently to the restoration. Finally something positive happening round here. 
 Tree planting and pond construction around the incinerator 
 Construction of the wet grassland is well underway 
More areas of sacrificial crop are being sown. Also lots of trees being planted. This is the biggest push on the restoration in nearly a decade (and yes in between then due to the delays we've lost our Tree sparrows and most of our important wildlife but nonetheless this progress is better than another kick in the nuts). 

Friday, 8 March 2019

Nice Spread

 Nice to see my Allen's Gallinule and Dwarf Bittern photos in this winter's birding literature (Birdwatch above and Dutch Birding below) 

Monday, 4 March 2019

Oxfordshire Weekend

At the Oxford base this weekend. Did Otmoor on Sunday and today. Ebird list HERE .

Highlight was 14 Curlew and a Dunlin on Big Otmoor with 400+ Golden Plover still around and my first Oystercatchers there for the year. Since I last visited Redshank numbers have also increased and I didn't see any flocks of Lapwings so seems like things are clearing out as the summer breeders are moving in. There are now 5 Marsh Harrier and speaking to a local guy some of these have only arrived recently too. More Skylarks singing and even some of the Golden Plovers were tumbling through the air singing.

Back at the Old Vicarage, the moth trap was pretty quiet. Last nights storm Freya wasn't ideal conditions and Saturday night was quite wet. Only three species Small Quaker, Common Quaker and a nice Grey Shoulder Knot.

Had four Roe Deer on the way back and Brown Hare at Otmoor.

 Curlews (above). Great to see this species seemingly doing well locally. 
 Golden Plovers- not a bad method looking for a rare plover amongst the flocks (which are often difficult to scan through on the deck and quite flighty)- take photos of the flocks in flight and check the underwings- despite my best efforts, the best I could dredge up was a Dunlin 
 Wigeon, Pintail, and Teal- still good numbers of waterfowl around which seems to be more stubborn to leave than the Golden Plovers and Lapwings 
 Canada Goose x Greylag hybrid above and Barnacle Goose x Greylag below for comparison . Seems surprising the strength of expression of different genes with both hybrid pairs showing less in the way of Greylag phenotype and more in the way of Canada and Barnacle Goose respectively. 

 Another odd job on 'Odmoor'- the regular leucistic Pochard
 View over Otmoor looking over Ashgrave with Big Otmoor in distance and reed bed to right rear. It's looking particularly wet so hopefully will be a good wetland bird Spring. 
Grey Shoulder Knot at the Old Vicarage . A first the Old Vic. Pan species list for Old Vic now at 594. 

Saturday, 2 March 2019


Was hoping for a summer migrant today at the Farmlands (most other local sites are getting Sand Martins already) but instead we got migrants of the winter kind in the form our first Med Gull for the year (a cracking summer adult) and a distant Great White Egret heading southeast (unfortunately my camera couldn't focus on it as it was too distant). There was also a single Fieldfare on the mound. Other interesting bits included 3 Water Pipits, 2 Green Sandpiper, 3 Wigeon, Buzzard, Peregrine (yesterday), singing male Blackcap on the bridge and 2-3 Chiffchaff. 

More action in the moth trap with the mild cloudy evenings with a few more NFYs. 

 Adult summer Mediterranean Gull . The status of Med Gull has changed at Beddington in recent years with wintering numbers reducing to occasional records and the post breeding dispersal migration in early autumn no longer occurring but seemingly been replaced by an early spring migration which in recent years has included groups (mainly adults) flying over. Now that tipping has finished at the farmlands, presumably they will become even less frequent. Interestingly this species seems to be doing very well along the South coast and in other parts of the UK so our local decline seems to confined to this area. 
 Presumed hybrid Lesser Black-backed x Herring Gull 
 Dotted Border - a first for year 
 Our best year for Twin-spot Quakers with up to six (also one Common Quaker in this picture for comparison ) 
Micro moths don't get much more boring this- Depressaria daucella (even got a depressing name). Another first for year.