Saturday, 30 March 2019

Orange Underwings

On the Oxford shift this weekend again. On the way up I popped into Staines but despite Little Gulls and Common Scoters etc being dotted across other reservoirs all I could muster up was the usual male Scaup, Ringed Plover, Redshank, a few Goldeneye and the two Water Pipits. 

This afternoon I took Jacob to Rushbed Woods, Bucks, to look for Orange Underwing moths after seeing a social media post that they were on the wing there- success! 

 Orange Underwing agg. Light Orange Underwing are known from Rushbed Woods but to be certain which species it is closer examination is recommended. 
 An amazing Early Spring atmosphere in the woods with Wood Anemones, Primroses and Violets on the wood floor and willow catkins and prunus blossom in the otherwise leaf less canopy. 



Jacob in the glade 

Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Warden Job Opportunity

In another major positive step forward Sutton Council are now advertising for the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Warden. Click on the Birdguides article below for more details: 

Climate and Ecological Emergency in Sutton

Extinction Rebellion Sutton have started a petition to Sutton Council requesting that they declare a climate and ecological emergency in Sutton. Please sign HERE The petition reads: 

(A call to Sutton)..council to acknowledge the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Special Report on Global Warming (October 2018). We request that Sutton Borough Council notes the London Assembly has declared a Climate Emergency, recognises the seriousness of the situation and welcomes further ambitious steps. We request that Sutton Borough Council acknowledges the action already taken by Bristol, Manchester and many other city councils around the UK and the world to declare and commit necessary resources to tackling a Climate Emergency. We urge you to declare a Climate Emergency, supported by specific plans of action to make Sutton carbon neutral by 2030, and to call on government to give Sutton Borough Council the powers and funding to make this possible. We ask that Sutton Borough Council, its partners and representatives work together to report back to council and petitioners within 6 months with specific proposals.


The Petition has made it onto the front page of the local Guardian ON LINE ARTICLE HERE


This petition will form the basis of a campaign focused on Sutton Council and also Viridor/Pennon to develop Beddington Farmlands and surrounding communities into the borough environmental epicentre to deliver ecological and climate recovery in the coreland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park and to provide ecological and environmental public engagement infrastructure to deliver borough wide behavioural change.

Part of the focus of the campaign will be the development of Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve into a premier flagship reserve and the adequate mitigation of the Beddington Farmlands Incinerator.

The plan over the next few months is to deliver Sutton and Viridor a list of local community requests/demands and campaigning for those requests to be met by a strategy of (in strategic order) a)Negotiation and Consultation b) Activism and Direct Action and c) Non-violent Civil Disobedience (NVCD).

Extinction Rebellion Sutton will also be supporting the national campaign focused in the Capital in mid-April which is focused on Central Government and national strategic objectives.


Friday, 29 March 2019

Water Pipit Calls

Following a bit of discussion on Twitter about the good numbers of Water Pipits across the UK this winter and also this intriguing Water Pipit a couple of days (below and here ), Amy Robjohns found a good article on another feature, the call, that can help to identify a Caucasian Pipit A.s.coutellii ARTICLE HERE


Caucasian Pipit has been flagged up as a potential vagrant to UK so worth keeping any eye and ear out. The call sonogram signature of Caucasian Pipit is pretty distinctive with an 'M' shape as opposed to the more lightning strike shape of Water Pipit. 

 Caucasian Pipit Full article here

Water Pipit Full article here

So armed with this information I went out this morning to see if I could track down the interesting individual but unfortunately it looks like there has been an exodus of our Water Pipits and I could only find three birds left. I managed to sound record them and it appears they were all typical spionoletta Water Pipit . Sonograms below:

Water Pipit 1-3 (above and below) 


Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Sixteen Water Pipits!

Frankie had 16 Water Pipit yesterday, the second highest count at the Farmlands after 21 on 3 April 1971. I managed to count 15 today but as they always flush from about 50m getting photographs are difficult. I managed a few record shots. 

Maybe more exciting was 2 Redshank displaying in southeast corner. It will be amazing if we can attract this species back as a breeding bird. 100 acre and Southeast Corner are looking in top condition at the moment thanks to more conservation focused management of these areas. 

 Water Pipits- these two still largely in winter plumage 
 Summer plumage Water Pipit (above and below) - very little streaking on underparts, in fact the concolorous buffy-pink underparts is unusual for Western Water Pipit and the lack of a pale belly is generally a feature associated with Eastern Water Pipit. Typically western birds (spinoletta) have pinkish restricted to the breast with a contrasting white belly. I found a couple of photos on IBC that also show some spinoletta with uniform underparts so I guess there is some variability especially with birds still in active moult- this bird looks like it has yet to replace its central breast feathers. 

 A more typical summer plumaged bird with white underparts and (not so visible here) colour restricted more to the breast
 Redshanks (above and below) 

Common Buzzards have been migrating over in the last few days with 15 on Sunday and 5-6 today and yesterday 

Monday, 25 March 2019

More Wheatears

Had my first male Wheatears today of the Spring - at least five with three females at the Farmlands. We were doing a stake out for the White-tailed Eagle that had been seen in North London this morning but the best we could pull out of the sky was a few Buzzard and a Red Kite.

Wheatears are such cracking birds so in celebration of this smart family here is a photo collection of the Wheatears that have featured on this blog over the years.

According to my IOC World List I have seen 20 different species of Wheatear. In Shirihai and Svensson still need a few Western Palearctic ones including Cyprus Wheatear, Persian Wheatear, Basalt Wheatear and in the Greater WP there's Hume's Wheatear, Arabian Wheatear, Blyth's Wheatear and Red-breasted Wheatear.

Spring male Wheatears from today 
 Male Pied Wheatear, Bulgaria 
 Male Maghreb Wheatear, Morocco 
 Female Maghreb Wheatear, Morocco 
 Adult Mourning Wheatear, Israel . Unlike Maghreb Wheatear (formely lumped with Mourning Wheatear), the sexes do not differ significantly in plumage.  
Male Seebohm's Wheatear, Morocco 
 White-crowned Black Wheatear, Israel 
 Female Hooded Wheatear, Israel 
 Isabelline Wheatear, Bulgaria 
 Female Black-eared Wheatear, Western Sahara 
 'Greenland Wheatear,' The Azores 
 Blackstart, Jordan - according to IOC this is a member of the Wheatear family 
 Female Desert Wheatear, Morocco 
 Kurdish Wheatear, Turkey 
 Autumn Northern Wheatears, two adults and two first-winters
and another shot of a Spring Northern Wheatear- the original and the best 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Spring Break Out

A push of migrants today at the Farmlands as a cold front moved across the region. There have been falls of migrants on the South Coast over the previous two days but it was only today that we really noticed it locally Sightings here. Highlights included out first Wheatears (a male and female), 18 Sand Martin (N in two groups), an influx of 6 Chiffchaff (only 1-2 over the winter) and possibly a new male Blackcap. Other migrants (non Sub-saharan) included an adult Iceland Gull migrating over with other large gulls, a Redshank on 100 acre, 60 Meadow Pipit heading NW, 9+ Common Buzzard , an influx to 7-8 Green Sandpiper (that may have come up from Sub-Sahara/West Africa), an influx of Goldfinch, 5 Skylarks moving N, 1 Redwing, 5 Fieldfare and 1 Rook.  Also 10 Shelduck 'lekking' on 100 acre and a Jack Snipe. 6 Water Pipit also still around. A few groups of Lesser Black Backs and Black-headed Gulls were moving with the odd Common Gull amongst them. Most of the Black-headed Gulls have performed a mass exodus over the last few days with only a handful on site now. The Wigeon that have been around for several weeks have also now departed. 

On the other wildlife front there was a Brimstone and Small Tortoiseshell by Parkside and the usual early spring moths in the light trap- Small Quaker, Common Quaker, Satellite, Agonopterix alstromeriania, Clouded Drab, March Moth, Double-striped Pug, an early Pale Mottled Willow and the first Brindled Pugs. Also had an Agonopterix sp which will be a new species for the farmlands- still working on it. 


 Female Wheatear
 Adult Iceland Gull (above and below) 

 Redshank 
 Green Sandpiper 
 Jack Snipe 
 Shelduck- 10 on 100 acre were displaying and fighting 
Meadow Pipit- the most numerous migrant today with 60+ moving north/northwest 

Agonopterix sp. Had a few proposed identifications on this but it looks like a difficult specimen to assign to a particular taxon. The possibilities are yeatiana, assimilella or scopariella. Cheers Billy and Surrey moths for discussion. 

Friday, 22 March 2019

Extinction Rebellion Sutton

Ahead of International Rebellion Week which is coming up in mid-April we have set up a local Extinction Rebellion Cell in Sutton so please feel free to join our group or even set up your own group in your local area. We will be focusing on public information events, publicity stunts and action around the council, politicians and corporations calling on the council to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency in the borough with particular reference to the ecological centre piece of the borough, Beddington Farmlands and the mass polluting largely unmitigated Viridor/Pennon Group Corporation's Beddington Farmlands incinerator. 

We have started a petition to call on council to declare a Climate and Ecological Emergency HERE in response not only to local ecological meltdown at Beddington Farmlands but also in response to national meltdown as UK government fails to meet nearly all its nature conservation targets set for 2020 SEE HERE.

Those issues on our doorstep are the ones we can contribute more directly to so by acting locally we can make a contribution to the national objectives (and in turn international objectives) by declaring a local climate and ecological emergency and responding proportionally. 

Our objectives include ensuring the completion of Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve, mitigation for Viridor/Pennon's ecological damage caused, mitigation measures for Viridor/Pennon's greenhouse gas emissions, borough wide zero carbon targets and borough wide ecological recovery. 

We plan to direct the action around the delivery of two petitions, the petition to council to enforce planning conditions on Viridor to create the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve HERE (now over 6000 signatures) and the new petition to declare a climate and ecological emergency in the borough. We want to do a lot more than just make noise so in addition to the direct action and the petitions which are aimed at corporate and government accountability we are also planning public information events to get more members for Extinction Rebellion, the Green Party, other local community groups and Beddington Farmlands and to take part in projects that deliver the solutions ourselves. 

Where there is resistance from government and corporations to deliver their social and environmental obligations to our local democracy or where they block our independent efforts we intend to respond with non-violent civil disobedience. 

We will also be supporting action directed in the Capital as part of mass civil disobedience events organised by Extinction Rebellion HQ  aimed at Central Government to declare a National climate and ecological emergency. 

So please join the group here:  EXTINCTION REBELLION SUTTON



Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Spring arrives to Beddington Farmlands

A pretty good day at the farmlands with my first summer migrants for the London patch with  Little Ringed Plover and Curlew sound recorded at night over the obs and we had 2 Sand Martins going north today. Sound recordings and Ebird list HERE. Also had a steady passage of Meadow Pipit, about 65 by the end of the day. Unfortunately no Wheatears yet.

Also had Barn Owl on the night recording about 10 calls of Redwing going over but no Common Scoters yet even though they have been recorded at Surrey and Sussex sites and there have been thousands going over Derbyshire. Check out this epic night of noc migging HERE

The moth trap was pretty quiet- 4 Small Quakers, a Twin Spot Quaker and a Common Clothes Moth.

 Sand Martin- the lead runner into Beddington Farmlands 
 Meadow Pipits - there was a steady movement of up to 65 today, mostly moving northwest with 20+ on the mound also. Mipits winter from Britain and central Europe south to the Mediterranean and North Africa  so this Spring migration mainly involves birds from Iberia but could also involve birds coming up from Morrocco where in winter they occur in enormous numbers according to the BTO Migration Atlas. 
The large white headed gull featured yesterday decided to give up it's wing tip pattern today- does look like a Northern Herring Gull with extensive white in the wing with black in the wing tip extending only to p6 and large white tongues and tongue tips. 

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