Tuesday, 1 January 2019


I actually fell asleep through the new year yesterday so welcomed this new year in slumber- hopefully that is not an omen of energy levels this year. So new year, new pile of mud to throw and see how much of it sticks. So here's the plan for myself and Little Oak Group in 2019:


What with this being the main cash cow, I'm cautiously predicting a slow year, what with the uncertainty around Brexit- the ripple effects of this even has impacts on small local businesses. So the plan through 2019 is simply to keep going. With costs up and our profit margin down to 16% (should be around 25%) we entered a slow down last year already. With larger council contracts last year our turnover was the highest ever which offsets the reduction in profit margin in terms of actual profits but all that means is that we are working more and more for not as much. Obviously an unsustainable situation, so will be good to get through Brexit and see what we are playing with here. There's certainly a squeeze and important not to abandon principles when the chips are down (although not so easy to convince partners and colleagues of that!). It could just mean less work to do, tightening the belt and more time birding. It may also mean trying to monetise our projects more so that they are not so subsidy dependent- so a win win whatever happens. 

2018 was pretty much a disaster for the farmlands. Delays in the restoration continue with next to nothing of the 2018 Viridor plan of works completed, I got booted off the Conservation Science Group for rocking the boat too much and public access through the year was completely restricted by pipe works that ripped through restoration habitat too. 

As always the resilience of nature is the greatest defence agaisnt eco-vandals like Viridor and despite Viridor's neglect and oppressive behaviour it was still pretty good for birding with the highlights including an autumn Richard's Pipit, a spring Hoopoe and flocks of Spoonbills! The conservation target species however remain in critical condition, the breeding bird population was held up again by an apparent explosion in species like Wren and Reed Warbler and the total annual bird species list of 156 was pretty reasonable- although we generally consider 160 to be healthy. It was a good year for insects during the hot summer particularly for moths. 

The plan for 2018 is basically all defensive legal and campaigning strategy involving applying maximum pressure on Viridor and the council to progress with the restoration. The only hope to reverse the declining situation is the development of the habitats and the establishment of strong local natural history community. Also plan to re-shuffle the Bird and Wildlife Report this year with spreading out the effort more to be able to focus on the Viridor-Council campaign.  
Good news on the Hackbridge Project front- after 7 years the nieghbourhood plan was finally adopted. The plan for 2019 is now to start implementing it.


A really good year in 2018 with two papers published in Dutch Birding (Here), the publication of the 2015 Rare Bird Report, another successful Pelagic trip and a great Corvo season Here, Also things progressed in the Portuguese Rarities Committee with the establishment of a new Azores sub-committee and progress also made on the Azores List. Also a good year from our friends and partners in other projects in the region.

Plans in 2019 include the publication of at least the 2016 Rare Bird Report (and hopefully also the 2017), the completion of the Azores Bird list (and taxonomy updated to the latest IOC version), the Natural History Trip will run again this year, the 2019 Pelagic is almost full and hopefully it will be another great autumn season. 

A good couple of visits to the project this year (run by brother's family) and also an excellent recee in November with Dimiter from Neophron Tours in scouting out an area to set up an autumn observation project involving buying some land to create some habitat and build an observatory/lodge. Planning on spending 6 weeks there in autumn to get things going if we manage to secure a land purchase this winter. 

Had a great trip in January with Isaac and Co scouting out a project area in the Ashanti Region. We are returning in early Feb to do some further exploration and set up some preliminary recording systems. 


We had our best year ever with this and managed to put together some campaign songs with the kids to promote the situation at Beddington Farmlands. Who knows in 2019- make this up as we go along. 

This year got trips planned to Fuerteventura (tomorrow), Ghana in February, Belarus in May, Uganda in July, Bulgaria in September and Azores in October. 

Please support us by following the projects on social media etc, joining one of the tours or please contact me if you would like to volunteer or can offer freelance services and can help us in some way.  We particularly need help with more social media, marketing, data inputting and probably most of all - someone to complete funding applications.  Please contact me littleoakgroup@btinternet.com if interested. 

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