Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Corvo 2019 - Day One

I'm back on Corvo for my 15th consecutive year.

It's already been another incredible autumn with Cape May, Chestnut-sided and Prothonotary Warbler and on the neighbouring island of Flores there has been a Connecticut Warbler. The Prothonotary and Connecticut are firsts for the Western Palearctic so once again there doesn't seem to be abatement in new species being recorded each autumn.  There's also been a couple of Green Darners- first records for the Azores as far we know.

I arrived yesterday and today has been very wet and stormy, all I've seen is the two Semipalmated Plovers that have been on the airfield.

As I'll be doing the Corvo community blog over the next week, I'll just copy that over to here over the next few days or you can follow it directly on the links below.

 Connecticut Warbler (Thijs Valkenburg)  
Female Green Darner (Paul French) 

Sunday, 13 October 2019


To order a copy please email littleoakgroup@btinternet.com

£8 plus P & P 

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Friday, 11 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion on Question Time

Interesting and balanced debate on Question Time last night about Extinction Rebellion , represented by :


Thursday, 10 October 2019

XR London Protests Autumn 2019

A fascinating day up town yesterday joining in with the Extinction Rebellion London Uprising. Here's a few pics. 
The Red Brigade 
Thousands of radical protesters are involved , which has overwhelmed police forces and Westminster and Whitehall are currently completely shut down 
A 'crusty' getting taken to the slammer 
Our future in the coffins (two interpretations of this maybe, both the future of the planet and the future of these martyrs once they get their criminal records) 
Police reinforcements have been called in from across London and beyond and officers are working overtime. Police resources are over stretched. It was announced yesterday that the Met Police will be recruiting thousands more police over the next few years in a major recruitment drive after spending the last seven years cutting them 
On looking passers-by 
There is both a spiritual and demonic atmosphere about the place- like all things everywhere

Tourists trying to compute what is going on with scenes occurring such as below: 

A brave banker walking through the protests
Rozzers overhead 
'Peter and Mary' put in the usual appearance 
XR have got the police blocking the roads for them! 
Our local protest on Tuesday to coincide with the Beddington Farmlands petition hearing. A van full of local rozzers were there to meet us just in case the two kids, their mother, a gran, Leonard, Mark and John and me decided to storm the civic officers and declare complete subjugation and dominion over the local authority  

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Beddington Farmlands Petition Hearing Meeting

Last night, Sutton Council's, Housing, Economy and Business Committee heard the Public Petition that called on the council to take enforcement action on Viridor to deliver the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve as per planning obligations. The petition was signed by over 6500 people and was delivered by the Wandle Valley Forum (that represents over 130 community groups within the Wandle Valley Regional Park). 

The meeting was held at the Sutton Civic Offices and meeting attendees were greeted by a small Extinction Rebellion Sutton demonstration outside and a van full of Policemen who were keeping an eye on the Extinction Rebellion Protesters. Due to Extinction Rebellion focusing on the London Protests this week, a small group were dispatched for this meeting, which was also appropriate considering this was a chance to deal with some technicalities and details and have an in depth discussion about the issues. 

The meeting started with Councillor Nick Mattey 'the Rottweiler of Beddington North', asking the Committee Chair, Jane McCoy to stand down from the committee due to a lack of independence considering Councillor McCoy's role as a director of the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and that connection with the Council's business interests with Viridor.  The Chair was advised by her constitutional adviser that a declaration of interest was sufficient.  

Following a speech from Lysanne (The Wandle Valley Forum Vice-Chair), Sutton Council's Head of Planning made some comments and after that Viridor's, Head of Sustainability Dan Cooke provided a response to the petition and finally councillors asked various questions.

The committee acknowledged the delays on the restoration and I had an opportunity to remind the committee of the significant ecological harm that those delays had caused.  Overall everyone in attendance supported the completion of the reserve and there was an acknowledgement by the Head of Planning that their enforcement team were working hard behind the scenes to discharge planning conditions. There was also an acknowledgement by the Chair that Sutton Council and local people had serious trust issues with Viridor and that Viridor needed to regain that trust. A decision was made to not take legal action but instead to call back Viridor to the Committee in six months time for a review of progress and then to call them back on regular basis until the project is completed and if the project is not completed by December 31st 2023 (the final deadline for completion with the planning condition) then legal action will be taken.

So overall probably the best outcome we could hope for. A good result and looking forward to seeing rapid progress of the restoration (they only have four years to catch up with a seven year delay and complete the whole project) and also hoping to rebuild our relationship with the council and Viridor and for us to help out as much as possible so that we can deliver a flagship urban nature reserve as a Local Community- Corporate- Government alliance.   

Pie on Extinction Rebellion Day 2

Monday, 7 October 2019


An absolutely amazing start to Corvo 2019. Presumably gripped off birders have reported our blog to facebook for breaching community standards (usually reserved for racist and violent content) so cant share the link directly on social media anymore. Perhaps Facebook have introduced a new violation of community standards- too gripping :-).  So to follow the Corvo blog, click HERE

 Prothonotary Warbler- a first for the Western Palearctic (Paul French)
 Cape May Warbler - a first for Azores (Peter Stronach)
Chestnut-sided Warbler, a 2nd for the Azores (Peter Stronach)


Oxfordshire, Weekend bits and bobs

Did Farmoor this morning Ebird list here and had the moth trap out on Saturday night at the Old Vicarage.

I checked out Pinkhill and Shrike Hill Nature Reserves (on the western side of the reservoirs) at Farmoor for the first time, was hoping for a Yellow-browed. Had my first couple of Redwings for the autumn, a few Mips and Skylarks moving over and the odd Goldcrest and Chiffy in the bushes but not too much in the way of migrant passerine activity or vis mig. Also 40+ House Martin over the reservoir.

Had Barn Owl, Kingfishers and also Muntjac and Roe Deers along the Thames.

Highlight of the weekend was a female-type Red-breasted Merganser at Farmoor moving between the north and south basins.

 Red-breasted Merganser above and two below , Farmoor Reservoir

 Some serious fantastic plastic going on in Oxfordshire- about 700 Greylags and nearly 30 Barnacle Geese on the reservoir 
 A noticeable presence of Grey Wagtails on the banks - up to six 
 Leucistic Coot 
 Roe Deer on the reservoir edge 
 Red-line Quaker 

and a few moths from the Beddington trap on Friday night 
 A good run of Dewick's Plusia recently 
 Dewick's Plusia with Silver-Y
 Cypress Pug
Dusky-lemon Sallow, Beaded Chestnut, Large Rannunculus and Crocidosema plebjana

Sunday, 6 October 2019


Extinction Rebellion are set to start another major period of economic disruption tomorrow in London. Our local Sutton group will be involved in peaceful protest in the Capital and a peaceful demonstration is also planned outside the Civic Offices on Tuesday, to coincide with the Beddington Farmlands petition hearing.

I suspect it is going to be a tough week for Extinction Rebellion. The government commissioned PolicyUK earlier in the year to investigate the organisation who have reported back a three tier structure, comprised of Extinction Rebellion-RisingUP!-Compassionate Revolution and have linked it to eco-Marxist extremist ideology. Effectively Extinction Rebellion is a campaign of Compassionate Revolution, funded by donors (Lush is included in the donor list).  As such PolicyUK have recommended the group be considered within a counter terrorism framework and the police have been instructed to change tactics from permissive to oppressive in dealing with the group. The police are using 'conspiracy to commit a public nuisance' to intercept actions before they can organise. Extinction Rebellion are very aware of this (the co-founder Roger Hallam is in prison already) and the tactic for tomorrow is to overwhelm the police- can the police arrest 10-30,000 people- there's no room for them in the cells. I suspect tomorrow is going to be a major battle ground and possibly we will see more arrests than the 1000+ arrests in the spring uprising.

Good luck to everyone tomorrow. Personally, as I stated from the beginning, I'm saving my arrest for local issues at Beddington Farmlands. The Tuesday council meeting to decide the future of the farmlands will impact on whether Non-violent Direct Action will be needed to ensure the protection of Beddington Farmlands and the accountability of our local Capitalist lords- Viridor.

It's a shame not to see the nature conservation establishment openly supporting Extinction Rebellion and promoting action tomorrow. There may be differences in nuances of how to deal with the ecological emergency but fundamental objectives are shared across the whole of the environmental movement. I'm not an eco-Marxist myself and personally focus on a sustainable business approach, community groups, citizen science, political reform and technological advancement in dealing with the ecological emergency but I also understand that the environmentalist spectrum is wide from rich capitalists like Mark Constantine to hermits living self sufficiently  in a tree house and the most important thing is for the whole community to support each other and to focus defence agaisnt the fundamental Capitalist onslaught on nature. I find the factions and tribalism within Environmentalism/Nature Conservation/Birding not only depressing but mainly stupid and self defeating. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Kent, American Golden Plover dip

Another dip today but a very enjoyable one. Kojak and I started off at Shellness to do the bushes looking for a Yellow-browed. The best we could muster up were double figures of Chiffy, a couple of Whitethroats, a Blackcap and a few Goldcrests. The local Med Gulls are always a treat. 

Next stop was the cockney cultural centre of Leysdown (Gammonsville)  for fish and chips with pickle egg. The Jellied Eel stall was unfortunately closed for the winter.

On to Oare marshes to arrive before high tide and just in time to string the adult American Golden Plover and get crowd shamed. A nice selection of waders and a single Spoonbill (there was a flock of 16 yesterday). 

Here's a few picture high lights:

 Immature Spoonbill 
 Juvenile Little Stint 
 Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Knot  and Redshank 
 A nice adult Knot 
 Snipe- counted 54 of these on the East flood 
 Had this distant tern on the Swale- looks like a first-winter Arctic 
 Great to see the Brents in already- apparently they arrived about ten days ago 
This is what I momentarily thought was the AMGP (bird front right). A greyish looking adult with long primary projection (five primaries showing here). Was just a washed out Golden Plover with displaced tertials- bastard! Called it to the crowd before I pulled back- lots of well deserved nodding heads and shameful looks from the surrounding twitchers received. 

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Beddington Farmlands, Spoonbill dip

Got a call from Roger that 2 Spoonbills were flying past my window but despite reacting swiftly I couldn't get onto them. At 10am I meet Lysanne and Steve (local neighbourhood champions) to have a look at the restoration ahead of the Council meeting on Tuesday 8th October where the council will decide whether or not to take legal action on Viridor for the ecological problems at the Farmlands. We had a look at the recent planting on the permissive footpath and viewed the restoration from the hides.

There's a few problems on the footpath but overall it's coming together and things should improve considerably when the new warden starts and we get the local volunteer group back together. 

There has been a lot of damage caused by Viridor's delays, including the near loss of the Tree Sparrows and out of nine target species only two are doing well. However if they keep up the pace and catch up with the restoration and a solution is found for 100 acre and South East Corner things can only get better and better. 

The worry is that once Viridor get past the hurdle of Tuesday where they face the possibility of legal action for the delays, things will go back to how they were before (if legal action is not taken), more delays will follow, they will submit new planning permissions for more amendments to their commitments and SINC de-designation will follow and things will start to decline again. The planning officer has already reported ahead of Tuesday that if all the restoration planning conditions are not met by 2023 (when the reserve should be complete and open) then this is when the council will consider taking legal action and not before. Will see what the councillors decide on Tuesday.  

Saw a few good birds including Common Sandpiper, a stunning juvenile Kestrel, had House Martins migrating over and a good numbers of wildfowl including a couple of Pochard and 8 Snipe. 

A few decent moths last night despite the wet weather.

Juvenile Kestrel 

 First-winter Common Sandpiper (quite unusual to see in October) 
 Dewick's Plusia- been a pretty good year for these at the farmlands with another one last night
 Two Blair Shoulder Knots- a new for year
 L-album Wainscot 
 Mallow- had singles on last two nights, a new for year 
 View looking over North Lake 
View looking over proposed wet grassland