Saturday, 29 February 2020

Cabin Fever

It's been a real struggle to get out in the field recently what with the constant volley of storms and work commitments. Its been difficult finding dry nights to get the moth trap out too. 

 Oak Beauty at the farmlands last week
 Acleris sp (ferrugana?) at the farmlands last week 
 Resorted to night birding on Thursday after running out of day light hours to go birding. I met up with Steve W and Tomos and we did the park boundary, along the permissive footpath and then Mitcham Common Boundary- not a single sight or sound of any owls. We disturbed lots of roosting Woodpigeons (or is that a Stock Dove above?). Got to try out my new owling torch- a Fenix TK32 which has a tri-colour source which is more sensitive for wildlife beaming 
 View from the wet grassland hide at night 
 Maintenance works have started on the Northern Lake. Up until a couple of years ago we used to do this work See here and here but due to our campaigning activity that was taken from us (the necessary sacrifice for any company in our position- nature first, money second). We used to do it for absolute bottom price and also top up the work with volunteer forces but now they are using non-local sub-contractors who also are approaching it with large machinery rather than sensitively. It must be costing them a fortune! Anyway 117 Snipe and 16 Jack Snipe are currently on the SW island, Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler have bred on there and we have had rarities like Hoopoe even feeding in the vegetation that we used to manage. Now (with the blessing of the Conservation Science Group- which I was also booted off for speaking out for science and conservation) they want to clear all vegetation and destroy all the habitat for the Snipe and target species. I've logged my objection to the work proposal but as usual there are just too many people involved at Beddington Farmlands with too many vested interests and too much conflict and personal vendettas- once again the wildlife is set to loose out and someone is going to make a load of money- and once again with the blessing of many of the bird group and the local community stakeholders. I was nominated for local hero in the Birdwatch Local Champion awards this month which is quite ironic. 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Beddington Farmlands Campaign Update

Things are moving forward on a few fronts:

1) Re-establishment of the Hackbridge Forum and progressing with the implementation of the neighbourhood plan including developing visitor facilities for the reserve (NDG and Lib Dems) 

2) Completion of the Beddington Farmlands Bird Group 2018 report and also the 2019 report (including digitisation)  ahead of the next Housing, Economy and Business Committee meeting where Viridor will be scrutinised on restoration progress since the October meeting. (BFBG, Wandle Valley Forum, HEB, CAMC, CSG) 

3) Development of a Sutton Extinction Rebellion strategy aimed at Viridor in order to discuss increased mitigation measures for the incinerator and supporting local community initiatives (XR, Viridor Directors) 

4) Supporting and maintaining pressure/encouragement on Sutton Council and local MPs to meet the 2030 target of zero carbon and net biodiversity gain in Sutton (All local groups particularly XR and Sutton Council) 

5) Campaigning in the 2022 local councillor elections on environmental and ecological issues centred around Beddington Farmlands and the Regional Park (Green Party and Progressive Alliances) 

6) Preparation for the new warden and the re-structuring of the bird group within the management framework of the reserve to maximise the impact of the bird and wildlife group (Bird Group, Viridor and Sutton) - not an easy task- see the structure map below that shows the complexity of the management of Beddington Farmlands

Beddington Farmlands Management Structure 



Our new MP speaking agaisnt the Beddington Farmlands incinerator and the need for increased mitigation measures (above) and latest comments from the Liberal Democrats on the same subject (below- click on to read full post) 


Protest outside the South London Waste Partnership meeting a couple of weeks ago

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Slow times at Beddington Farmlands

Been very slow recently, too much wind and rain for moth trapping and too mild and wet to bother spending too much time in the field. However been over the farmlands a couple of times with Kojak. Ebird list for today HERE.

Seemed to be a few migrant Redwings hanging around the mounds and also one Fieldfare. The high water levels were pushing Snipe around. Also one Wigeon and four Pheasants were on the Oak Copse (the site of the illegal tree felling). 

 Fieldfare 
 Redwings 
Lapwings - good to see a  winter flock still hanging in there despite all the pressures. The tables below show the overall decline of Lapwing on site since the 1997 baseline. How much longer will they hang in there? The breeding population shows a similar number to baseline but there have been fluctuations in between and numbers are now decreasing. The Tree Sparrow crash of 2013 followed a period of wintering decline too before the breeding population suddenly crashed indicating that wintering numbers could be a better indication of population stress compared to, for example, an ageing and increasing unproductive breeding population. The urgency to restore the farmlands to create new habitat and protect the breeding population cannot be over stated.

Lapwing Annual maxima (on ground, not including hard weather movements)
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
165
150
250
150
130
130
170
140
110
120
150
141


2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Population in decline.
nc
nc
nc
50
74
70
41
41
68
40
25

Lapwing Breeding Population
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
11
9
13
13
14
24
25
21
21
23
20
27


2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Population in decline following a period of growth
21
14
13
14
11
10
10
11
12
13
10

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Storm Ciara Damage

Sad times at the Old Vicarage over the last few days after Storm Ciara brought down our only two Pine trees and the main feature of the garden, the Weeping Willow lost half it's crown. Coincidentally we planned to have the guys over this week to do some tree and hedge work but it turned into an emergency clear up job. Very sadly we are also going to have to pollard the whole of the Willow as there are several split limbs in the upper canopy. 

All the damage was caused in about 10 secs on Sunday as a major squall (like a tornado) swept through the garden shaking the house, lifting roof tiles, throwing anything not tied down around the garden and taking down the trees. 

 Pine with the top snapped out 
 Up-rooted Pine precariously held up by a Hazel 
 The rather sad changing back drop to the Old Vic over the last few years (circa 2016) - The Ash behind the house was felled as it started causing foundation problems and the Poplar to the left was felled as Bryan put in a new garage. The small Laburnum in front of the house fell over randomly a couple of years ago. 
 The Old Vic 2019 with Pines visible left of the Willow 
 The Old Vic today- an increasingly tree less skyline and tomorrow the Willow is going to be pollarded- its pretty tragic although the Willow will grow back but will it ever regain it's former natural peak of glory (below). We really need to plant some more trees- Bryan has already ordered two new Pines. We also pruned the Yew today which always come out with a great shape. 

UPDATE 120220
 Managed to reduce the Willow and still keep a pretty good framework - hopefully will this grow back into a well balanced canopy 

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

South London Sibe Hotspot

News broke recently of a Yellow-browed Warbler nearby to Beddington Farmlands on the Wandle Trail at Poulters Park. Kojak and I headed over today to try and see it- mission successful and we found it in the company of 2 'Siberian Chiffchaff', 10 Common Chiffchaff, about 8 Goldcrest nearby and a female Firecrest was a little further up along the river. There was also a Blackcap singing nearby. The reason for the concentration of so many wintering warblers was the clouds of midges along that stretch of the river. It was pretty unbelievable to see so much insect life and warblers for a winters day but the weather was very sunny and the first break in windy and dull conditions for a while. Without doubt one of the best local days birding on a mild sunny mid-winters day that I can recall for a long time. 

In the afternoon we did the path at Beddington Farmlands, had a few extra bits including 2 Stonechat, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk. In the evening I did the roost counts- about 1500 Jackdaw and 500 Ring-necked Parakeet. 

 Yellow-browed Warbler above and below- vocal at times, sticking to the same small area of Buddleia and Lavatera beneath an Oak and also hopping down into the brambles along the river bank 

 'Siberian Chiffchaffs' (above and below) - we heard a call a couple of times but at least one bird responded well to tape. Both seemed pretty classic birds with drab upperparts and contrasting pale underparts with traces of yellow confined to the primaries and tail

 'Siberian Chiffchaff' (above) compared to Common Chiffchaff (below) 

2 'Siberian Chiffchaff' together (also Common Chiffchaff) 

 Female Firecrest (above and below) 

 Male (above) and female (below) Common Stonechats at Beddington Farmlands 

 The Wild Plum blossom was out for the first time this year 
 Pretty amazed to see this chick out already- a Coot? Moorhen? Little Grebe? It was on its own looking rather lost. (It's a Little Grebe chick- thanks Dave Harris and Dave Lambert) 
 Gadwall (above) and Teal (below)  were also along this stretch of the Wandle with Little Egret by the goat bridge and a couple of Little Grebe on the pond at Watermeads Reserve. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Early Spring moths

The mild evenings have meant a few moths have been on the wing. I've had the Beddington farmlands trap out and it looks like the winter moths, mottled umbers and December moths are over and it's now the beginning of the spring parade. 

 Pale Brindled Beauty 
 Common Quaker 
 Agonopterix heracliana
 Spring Ushers (above and below) 

Monday, 3 February 2020

Breeding Birds in the UK

This is a really nice graphic showing some of the most common breeding birds in the UK. There are 84 million breeding pairs of birds in the UK and 20 species contribute 77% to the total with 58% of the total made up by the ten most commonest birds. 

The full report is published in the latest issue of British Birds. 



Sunday, 2 February 2020

Beddington Farmlands Website update etc


Managed to get out in the field with Kojak on Friday afternoon (Kojak's blog here). We had a few extras that we didn't get on Wednesday at the farmlands including Wigeon, Buzzard and a couple of Peregrine. 

On Friday I met up with Verity and my dad and we went to see the new MP Elliot Colburn to introduce ourselves and talk to him about Beddington Farmlands. He does seem to have a lot of enthusiasm and was very supportive of our objectives so hopefully we can work together in future. 

Also last week Lee Dingain updated the website WEBSITE HERE and we also made some progress in finalising the 2018 Annual Report which has been delayed by political reasons but hopefully will finalise that within a week or two. 

So what with the new and improved Beddington Farmlands Bird Group, the new website, new MP, growing supporters on social media, the progress with the restoration last year, the expose of undermining influences (which are causing the delays in the report production)  and the new accountability framework with the Housing, Economy and Businesss Committee, we do seem to be going through a good spell at the moment. Let's hope it continues and builds to get the reserve complete and open by the end of 2023.