Friday, 20 September 2019

Climate Strike 2019

Holly is at the doctor's today trying to sort out her health issue so unfortunately we can't physically be involved in today's climate strike. The Extinction Rebellion Autumn uprising begins on October 7th so what with a week of climate strikes starting today and the XR campaign the next few weeks are going to see some serious eco-activism in London. 

To coincide with the uprising we plan to submit a letter before action to Viridor over the next few days. On October 8th the petition to take enforcement action on Viridor will be heard at council committee. 

Gaia Fawkes HERE are going to have a satire field day especially with the recent counter terrorism classification of XR (HERE). The leader of XR, Roger Hallam is in prison before anything has even started (HERE). Mark Avery is covering things HERE and the strikes are being supported by most environmental organisations around the globe. 

What will all this achieve? Who knows? I suspect there will be fanatical martyrs, a lot of noise, a release of frustration and despair, comradeship and new friendships, a flexing of community muscle but ultimately I suspect the main outcome will be a slow realisation of the crystallised capitalist dictatorship, the inevitability of climate breakdown, social chaos and the dangers that will bring and the powerlessness of the majority over minority rule. The bigger and more radical the environmental movement becomes the stronger the grip of the Capitalists will tighten and in turn the dark realities of Capitalism will be exposed to more and more people who will seek change .

There is still a fuzzy ideology behind climate and ecological politics and very few organisations are calling out fundamental flaws in society  as the underlying cause. There's a popular notion that radical change can occur without radical changes. Comfort politics seek to advocate that simple changes and displays of emotion can make big differences rather than individual big changes and fundamental societal/political structural changes and technological advances are what make big differences.  That realisation of both the weakness of mass movement and the darkening of capitalist minority rule as humanity hurtles towards a bottle neck  should bring a more advanced and mature approach to dealing with this crisis- the requirement for complex regeneration networks to form, technological advances, the need to strike deeply into the heart of capitalist power and to develop advanced sustainable democracies. At the moment it's all a bit of fun and games. Not for much longer maybe? 

Eurotrip 2019- bits and bobs

I was trying to upload some sound recordings from Cape Kaliakra onto Soundcloud but having technical problems. Managed to upload the second Ortolan Bunting recorded at night migrating over Balgerevo (see below). Here's a few odd pics from the trip before its back to business at home.

Juvenile Levant Sparrowhawk at Cape Kaliakra

Badger on the trail camera at Cape Kaliakra 
Golden Jackal at the Cape 
Roe Deer (?) on the Cape. Quite a surprising number of mammals on the narrow headland. 
A couple of pics from the moth trapping demo I did for the Balkep volunteers 

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Eurotrip 2019: Days 30-34 Journey Back

Unfortunately we've had to go back home early as Holly picked up some kind of bug that needs treatment. So we set off from Bulgaria on Sunday and drove north over the Danube (car ferry) and over nighted at Drobeta-Turnu Severin in Romania (where the Roman Emperor Trajan built the famous Danube roman bridge). On Monday we drove to Goyr in Hungary via the Four Gates national park (where the Danube cuts through the Carpathians) and had a beautiful evening in the charming city centre dining alfresco at a Wildlife photography exhibition. On Tuesday we drove from Goyr to Frankfurt in Germany via Austria and spent the evening at Nibelungen Campsite. Wednesday was a twelve hour journey from Frankfurt, through Holland, Belgium and into France, on the ferry at Calais to Dover and back to the London flat. Today following a quick visit to my mechanic (to tighten a bolt that has come loose after our 4400 mile journey) we have finally arrived back at the Old Vicarage. So that was the entire width of Europe, from the Black Sea to the English Channel in four days, following the Danube and over the Rhine- with bits of sight seeing and dining on the way including grilled Perch in Romania, goulash soup and pork trotter with pickled cabbage in Hungary, Bratswurt Sausage and sauerkraut in Germany, Croque-monsieur and pain au chocolate in France and Fish and Chips with curry sauce on the ferry back to Britain. The whole of Europe in four days- the lightening tour! The best bird was Black Woodpecker over the motorway in Germany.

 Northern Gannet and Black-legged Kittiwake from the Ferry- Western Europe specialities 

My favourite pic from our trip- Jacob and I on top of the Balkans 

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Eurotrip 2019, Day 29: Shipka

Last day in Shipka here before we start heading back.  I covered the fields and forest east of the village again. Highlights included 4 Honey Buzzards and Black and Grey-headed Woodpecker. Ebird list HERE.

In the afternoon we celebrated my birthday in advance by going to a local fish restaurant (had Catfish and chips). The restaurant was on the edge of a lake. We had Green Sandpiper, 2 Little Egret, 1 Black Stork and 3 Grass Snake. 

 Tree Pipit
 Spotted Flycatcher- no shortage of these in these parts
 Male Redstart- the pale secondary panel could possibly suggest samamisicus influence
 Juvenile Honey Buzzard 
 Praying mantis sp
Slowly getting some tentative identifications on these moths- closest I can get to these (above and below) is Crescent Darts 

 Clancy's Rustic
Archer's Dart? 

Jacob has been enjoying the wild times

Friday, 13 September 2019

Eurotrip 2019, Days 27-28: Shipka (Balkep)

Wednesday night we wild camped in the fields east of the village, ran a moth trap, trail camera and night sound recording from there and we spent Thursday around the village. In the evening I birded the fields east of the village and set the moth trap and trail camera up in Paul's garden. Friday (today) I did the Shipka birding road. Ebird lists HERE and HERE

Planning on spending the afternoon trying to put some names to the moths. If you recognise any please step in! 

The nocturnal sound recording round here has been very quiet (a Tawny Owl) and nothing but feral cats on the trail cameras so far.  I did get a Badger on the trail camera I put up at Cape Kalikara and sound recorded Golden Jackals there too (will post separately about that when get a chance). Comparatively speaking the nocturnal recording was better on the coast (Tree Pipits, Sandwich Tern, Ortolan Bunting and a couple of unidentified calls) but overall both on the coast and here in the foothills/valley of the Balkans the nocturnal migration (and visible migration) has been surprisingly slow.  I managed to pick up a weak movement of raptors moving west of Buzludzha high over the mountains yesterday evening and had three Black Storks this morning clearly catching a thermal and moving on but not much else. However there is no shortage of migrants and birds staging both at the coast and here and there have been interesting roost migrations and local movements (some significant movements of Woodpigeons round here- presumably post breeding flocks moving around). 

 Juvenile Montagu's Harrier (above and below). The head pattern with a dark boa, pale necklace and dark face mask are quite Pallid Harrier-like but the according to Forsman the most reliable feature to distinguish juvenile Pallid and Montagu's Harrier is the the all dark 'fingers' on Montagu's Harrier with barring in the hand mainly confined to the inner part of the hand. The hand appears framed (by dark trailing edge to the secondaries and dark fingers) whereas in Pallid Harrier the hand is more open, with even barring and barred fingers. 

 I'm going for juvenile Lesser Kestrel on this bird. There were at least eight 'Kestrels' around this morning with three sitting together and loosely hunting together too. This bird is very pale on the underwing which contrasts with the grey fingers and trailing edge (which suggests juvenile male), the structure looks compact, the moustachial stripe is faint and critically it appears to have the correct wing formula of p10 being clearly longer than p7.

 Juvenile Red-backed Shrike with a cricket sp. 
 Had three Black Storks coming out (from roost presumably) from the Birding Road gulley. 
 Crested Lark 
 Grey-headed Woodpecker 
 Red-breasted Flycatcher 
Episema glaucina

Plain Clay
Dark Sword Grass (?) 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Eurotrip 2019- Days 23-26: Shipka (Balkan Ecology Project)

We transferred from the Black Sea to Shipka (The Balkan Ecology Project- BALKEP) on Sunday and have spent the last few days exploring the local area. I've had a look at the fields W of the village, around the monastery, and a bit up the valley towards the monument. Ebird list HERE.  Highlights have included Black and Grey-headed Woodpeckers and birds seen round here but not on the coast include Pied Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Cirl Bunting and Ravens (in fact there were no corvids at all on the coast). Also had Red-breasted Flycatcher at the monastery which I think is the first time I've seen them up there. 

I did a bit of noc mig recording over the village but it was very quiet. Also checked out Buzludzha (a main mountain vista and vantage point) and no sign of any raptors going over. 

Have done two night moth trapping at my mum's holiday home garden and another night in the BALKEP market garden. Still working through the identifications and not easy as we only have limited internet access (need to invest in moths of europe books). 

 Spotted Flycathers- good numbers in the local area in all kinds of habitat- this one in sunflower stubble in the fields 
 Willow Warbler- good numbers of these in the local area. 
 Black Redstart at the monastery
 The wildlife pond at the market garden. A good moth haul in this area. Also had three Wrynecks in the vicinity. 
Scarce Blackneck
Atethmia ambusta 
Marbled Green
Orange Swift (female above, male below) 

Treble Bar 

Plain Clay
Scarce Bordered Straw