Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Otmoor Wipit

 Did Otmoor today. Highlights were a Water Pipit from the second screen (Oxon lifer), a Chiffchaff from first screen, three Marsh Harriers, a Dunlin, good numbers of Snipe and good numbers of Golden Plover at last. Also had a load of Goldies (about 400)  near Bernwood Forest on the way over to Otmoor.  Ebird list from today HERE

Water Pipit (above and below) 

Reeve's Muntjac by the feeders. Also had 3 Roe Deer, another Muntjac and 3-4 Brown Hares today. 

Early Moth

The Old Vic moth year list kicks off with an Early Moth over the porch light. 

Early Moth
This partially leucistic Redwing is still around the garden 
The garden Siskins are still performing- not seen them here in previous winters so not sure how unusual this winter's influx is 

Monday, 24 January 2022

Don't just read the Guardian or the Daily Mail for Nature Conservation/Environmental News

 The two most polarised  sources of news in this country are widely recognised as the Guardian and the Daily Mail. In terms of quality personally I think they are worse than the Sun which is neither pretentious or obnoxiously snobby and nobody really takes it too seriously which sadly appears to be not true for the Guardian or Daily Mail.  For a modern, multi-source balanced view (well you get all the information anyway to construct your own narrative) on nature conservation and environmental matters INKCAP Journal is pure brilliance bringing together more or less everything from everywhere written about nature conservation every single week of the year. 

I guess nobody reading this actually does only read one source of news from the old fashioned increasingly ridiculous and irrelevant pre-digital main stream media but there is a small chance not everyone interested in UK nature conservation and the environment have subscribed to INKCAP yet. If not here's the link. 


Also while on the subject of the disease of division, great to see Birdguides with Lucy McRobert flying the flag for balance and choice here : ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

Sunday, 23 January 2022

The Old Vicarage Winter Weekend

A few more garden year ticks this weekend including Black-headed Gull, Fieldfare and Grey Heron. Now on 45 species for the year HERE . Highlights included a flock of 35 Siskin flying around the village (with up to four on the feeders) and the Blackcap is still around. Lots of territorial behaviour especially Robins and Dunnocks (singing and fighting), Collared Doves and Stock Doves singing, Greenfinches singing, Jackdaws inspecting holes, Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and fighting and Green Woodpeckers chasing each other this morning too. Song Thrush are still hard to come by, one was in the garden yesterday and there is a distant singing one but no territories in the garden yet. The Tawny Owls were calling again last night. 

Went to Crocodiles of the World Zoo today with the family. Just when you think the weird world of Oxon/Bucks biodiversity can't get any more strange then this happens- a Crocodile Farm! . Basically a series of ram shackle agricultural sheds in the Cotswolds stacked full of crocodiles and reptiles. HERE. Apparently there are 23 species of Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans and Gharials globally and there are a good selection of the species here. 

Still haven't caught or seen a moth this year. 

The mini-farm still has Beetroot, Kale, Parsley and Savoy Cabbage still ready for harvesting and the Onions, Garlic and Broad Beans are coming along. Might need to do a bit more bed extension and winter clearing before the Spring comes. 

We've added a couple more species to Jacob's bedroom zoo. There are a couple of excellent outlets nearby at Bradmore Farm. A reptile shop called EXOTICS AT HEART  HERE (check out this incredible species stock list HERE- over 150 species of Reptile, Amphibian, Scorpions, Spiders, Millipedes and Mantis) and an Aquarium called  FISHNFINS HERE.  This weekend we added Black-fin Cory to the Aquarium and a Giant Asian Mantis to replace the Syrian Hamster which unfortunately died this week (they only live about 2 years). 

Male and female Siskin (above and below) 

Male Chaffinch
Female Greenfinch
Schneider's Dwarf Camain 
Nile Crocodile 
Also a Fishing Cat thrown in to the collection! 
Our leopard gecko meets the aquarium 
Western African Dwarf Crocodile with West African fish species including Chichlids and Talapia
The new Black-fin Corys in our Aquarium 
Our new Asian Giant Mantis. Only about 2 inches at the moment. Feeds on fruit fly. The prey items we have to feed our mini-zoo animals on are also interesting including Meal worms, Wax worms (the larvae of Wax moths), Desert Locust and now Fruit flies. What with the exotic plants to add to the tanks and the stowaways such as snails etc the mini-zoo species lists continues to grow. 

Friday, 21 January 2022

Natural Capitalist Update


A quick update on how this is going (Background here) which is basically an investment drive to raise enough money to buy a 12 acre farm for regenerative agriculture/rewilding within five years and to support/grow satellite projects. 

1) Further Investment in the buy to let market in Hackbridge (Hub of Wandle Valley Regional Park and Beddington Farmlands) 

Going pretty well so far, we won an auction on a new buy to let property (at a very good price) and so far looking good in raising the finance and working towards completion.  Refurb builders and letting agency all ready to move forward too. 

All good on our existing rental property in Hackbridge. We continue to work on the Beddington Farmlands and Hackbridge Development Project in order to achieve community improvements and nature reserve integration in this area HERE to improve the whole environment. 

2) Investment in Green Investment Funds and Stocks/shares in Green Transition/Alternative Markets

Not so good. As warned by my advisors, investments in Green Funds are long term investments (no expectation of short term gain) and indeed the Jupiter Green Fund we invested in has dropped by 15% since COP26 resulting in a 10% overall drop in our stocks and shares fund. That has been countered by good returns on Solona and Etherium cryptocurrency, punting the FTSE (currently shorting it with 2X geared ETF vehicle) and some steady traditional investments. Our KKR investment has been terrible too (the investment company that own Beddington Farmlands).  Overall a trading loss across the platforms (HL and FTX) of about £200 (From a £5000 investment with another £5000 to invest once more experience gained) . By investing in Jupiter Green seems like we are basically subsidising the green transition which we expected but not quite to the tune of 15%! Anyway all new and interesting and paying the price for 'investment training' (aka being mugged off :-) )    

3) Purchasing of land in project sites such as Bulgaria, Ghana and also UK and explore opportunities in carbon credit trading/ tree planting/ carbon storage financial incentives. 

All good, our local partner bought a further 1000m2 in Bulgaria to add to the existing plot last year and we have allocated funds to construct a small lodge this year for birding holiday renting. Some ground clearance were carried out last week and currently looking to tender the lodge construction (a small 'mobile'/ready made wooden cabin/tiny house). 

Hope to visit Andy's farm soon, he is looking into the new incentives available in the new natural capital government schemes.  Also keeping an eye on the land/farm market- got my heart set on East Kent. Might buy a small area of woodland within next five years just to get the ball rolling and do some hobby woodland management - can pick these up for about £10K an acre in some cases. Five years is a long time to wait! so this will be a way of 'doing something' while waiting/saving up.

4) Growth in core business activity of green space management 

All going well, busy through the winter and working on our online marketing. Working on one of our favourite jobs next week - doing the trees at the London Wetland Centre.  Got a few tree management plans to do over the next few weeks too which is good winter work. Record turnover last year, so fingers crossed that keeps up.  

5) The monetisation of projects in Azores and Bulgaria (through eco-tourism) 

The lodge in Bulgaria is the main objective at the moment. Will keep an eye on the travelling environment whether to try and get the Azores Safari running next year. Hopefully the Azores pelagic trip will run this year. 

6) Continue investment/improvements into current HQs in London and Bucks.  

We got a new mop! 


Tuesday, 18 January 2022


Finally managed to get out in the field. Spent a few hours at Otmoor. Ebird list HERE. Very quiet really although I didn't have my scope (in for repairs) and there was a lot of work going on in the reed bed. Seems a lot drier than last winter too.

At least one female-type Marsh Harrier around. Also had Peregrine.
Good numbers of Wigeon and Teal around but didn't see many Golden Plovers or Lapwings this morning. Had a couple of Dunlin. 
Female and male Bullfinch (above and below) 

Monday, 17 January 2022

West Midlands Safari Park

Another family day out and more exploring into the weird and wonderful world of 'Wildlife Parks' , this time West Midlands Safari Park. The prehistoric large mammal display is a clear highlight and the dinosaur display is one of the best we've visited too. These displays of incredible lost megafauna set the context of present day natural history and the threats to surviving megafauna which frames the park's captive breeding programs of extinct-in-the-wild and threatened species relevant, important and urgent.

The focus on ungulates, particularly antelopes and deer is a fascinating focus (quite an academic one presumably afforded by more populist attractions elsewhere in the park) and there is an incredible range of species including Ellipsen Waterbuck, Red Lechwe, Eland, Gemsbok, Barbary Sheep, Ankole Cow, Congo Buffalo, Cape Buffalo, Persian Fallow Deer, Eld's Deer, Axis Deer, Formosan Sika Deer, Blackbuck, Barasingha, Banteng, Bactrian Camel, Lowland Anoa, Philippine Spotted Deer, Pere David's Deer, Nilgai and domestic breeds of sheep too. 

What with Sea Lion shows, all the other classics (Penguins, Lions, Tigers etc), Reptile house, Aquarium and Bats plus a full on amusement park and roller coasters thrown in on the side, this is pretty mega place but not one to visit while simultaneously attempting to inspire your four year old with hybrid large gull identification. 

A lot of the deer groups were mixed up so not sure on the identification below (please jump in on any mistakes) 

Presumed hybrid adult Lesser black-backed x Herring Gull 
Red Lechwe
Pere David's Deer (Extinct in the wild)
Eld's Deer?
Axis Deer
Persian Fallow Deer ?
Phorusrhacos (Terror-bird) - 5 million years ago
Embolotherium (on right about 30 million years ago) and Chalicotherium (about 4 million years ago)
Playbeledon (left) the ancestor of elephants about 10 million years ago and Enteledont (aka Terror-pig) from 16 million years ago
Ice age animals, Woolly Mammoths, Cave Lions and Elasmotherium 

The ancestors of gulls proved more interesting than the gulls themselves to my other family members