Wednesday 30 December 2009

Little Gulls and more winter movements

A cold north-east breeze with dense overcast sky set the scene for some movement today with a flock of 24 Golden Plover moving north , 19 Little Gull south west at 1330 followed by another 8 within less than an hour. Also a 2nd winter and a sub-adult Caspian Gull.
The Little Gulls were moving over at considerable height, just below the cloud line- at times disappearing into it. 27 in one day is a Beddington record (the previous highest day total was 23 on November 3rd 1997).
A nice little winters day. Teal are displaying on the lake and a noticeable increase in Great Black Backed Gull and also 'argentatus' Herring Gull.

Newspaper Article- Beddington Farmlands

Tuesday 29 December 2009


2009 was all about the development of the main projects I am involved in- Beddington Farmlands Urban Nature Reserve, Birding Azores and a pro-environmental music project. A good year overall with the usual disasters thrown into the mix.

Beddington Farmlands

Pretty much all good on this front. New tours, the restoration works have commenced, new publications, new group structure, new website and some great birds: New website here:

Roger's photos here:

2010 Outlook: Publishing of the 'Birds of Beddington Farmlands', the Carshalton Environmental Fair, more birding tours and of course the continuing development of what will become London's largest urban nature reserve.

The Azores

As for the foreign patch it had to be the best year yet for American vagrants.
Some 2009 links:
Corvo Blog by Olof Jonnson
Azores Rarity Photo Exhibition by Vincent Legrand
Corvo Birders Photo Gallery
and as always the main source of info:
2010 Outlook: Further winter exploration, new spring seabird exploration, new publications and the overall continuing contribution to development of birding on the Azores.

Eco-Music Project
Overall a roller coaster- lots of ups and downs but good fun. Promo stuff here:
2010 outlook: Who knows. Be warned more of this coming.

Top to bottom - Sandwich Tern, Spoonbill, Common Buzzard and controversial gull at Beddington, Beddington Birding Tours and Fea's and Wilson's Petrel from Azores pelagics.

Below are Azores photos of Ovenbird by Rafa Armada and Bobolink and Black-throated Green Warbler by Vincent the Great. The painting of Thee Bryans is by Twigg McNettle.

And the plan for 2010- full steam ahead into the unknown. HAPPY NEW YEAR.


Sunday 27 December 2009

Hard Weather Movements at Beddington Farmlands

Looks like things have calmed down out there but..... the cold weather is set to return later on in the week.

Its been an interesting little spell of bird displacement. Typically Lapwings, Golden Plover, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Redwing and Fieldfare have been the main species affected with day highs of 181 Lapwing moving south and west, 24 Golden Plover moving west, 40+ Skylark (on the mounds as well as similar numbers flying over), 150+ Redwing, 75+ Fieldfare and 80+ Meadow Pipit.

We haven't seen these kinds of movement at Beddington since the early 1990's which could be attributed to a general warming of the climate. If regional temperature rise continues this could be the last one of these movements that we experience for a very long time.

More on this here:

Friday 25 December 2009


Things are beginning to melt on the farm. Teal (images 2 and 3) were back on 100 acre with over 100 present across the farm. Redwings (image 4) were still moving overhead with 60+ today and about 150+ yesterday. Fieldfare (image 1) were also moving yesterday in smaller numbers. Also today 40+ Skylark on the mounds which is the highest count in a long time. Also 50+ Linnet about. Looks like Cormorants have been displaced with 7 flying over yesterday.

Anyway, good news that the ground has de-frosted and a lot of the local birds were catching up with much needed feeding.


Happy Xmas from all at Non-Stop Birding (Me).

For more on this apparant ir-relevant and irreverent song see:

Thursday 24 December 2009

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Hard Weather Movements- Beddington Farmlands

Images 1-5 (top to bottom): 1) Golden Plover heading S, 2) Lapwings moving S in 'V'ish formation, 3) Lapwings overhead, 4) Fieldfares heading S and 5) more Lapwing

The steady trickle of hard weather movement continues at Beddington. The tally so far:
18th December: 2 Dunlin
20th: 80 Meadow Pipit, 40 Skylark, 15 Reed Bunting, 181 Lapwing W
21st: 55 Lapwing W
22nd: 24 Golden Plover W, 32 Lapwing W
Today: 130+ Lapwing S and W, 1 Golden Plover S, 150 Redwing S, 50+ Fieldfare S and W
Mostly open field species have been affected where the frozen ground prevents them from feeding so they head west and south hoping for better feeding.
Looks like most of the Teal have left the farm, one or two Water Pipits are still holding out, the Moorhens have taken to the trees, I saw one Green Sandpiper today and one or two Snipe. The Bullfinches were still present along the path.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Bird on a Wire

Beddington Farmlands had a visit today from Glasshead Productions, a TV company that does science documentaries. They were doing a film that answers the question 'Why don't birds get frazzled when they sit on pylon wires'.
They got some images of Starlings on the wires and a Kestrel on the pylons. I've seen gulls and Lapwings sitting on the pylon wires before. In addition to acting as a resting area for birds the pylon wires can also present a well known hazard- we've had a few casualties at Beddington- including a Lapwing last year- click on this link for more:

Monday 21 December 2009

The Thames Estuary

Had a break from Beddington today and visited the Thames from Canvey Island with Simon. Looks like this weather is causing some disturbances- we had four Bewick's Swan (pic 4) fly over, a steady trickle of Lapwing moving up river, a single Golden Plover, a flock of 20+ Skylark in the saltings and a Red-throated Diver flying up Teweks Creek.
In addition we had the usual wintering birds including 3000-4000 Knot (pic 1-3), 500+ Dunlin, 80+ Grey Plover, 1800+ Oystercatcher and 40+ Brent Goose. If this weather keeps it could generate more hard weather displacements.

Friday 18 December 2009

Snow at the obs

Spent a couple of hours today looking for some hard weather action from the obs window. 2 Dunlin, 25+ Redwing, 10 Fieldfare and 3 Skylark was the lot.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Focusing On Peregrine at Beddington Farmlands

The pair of Peregrine were showing well today- got this photo of the male.
One of the more positive stories to tell about Beddington's birds.
The first record was in 1947 but there were no further sightings thereafter until 1993. This was mainly related to the poor fortunes of this species on a regional scale due to human persecution and DDT poisoning.
The bird in 1993 was welcomed with great excitement and by 1994 there were 11 records which was later to prove to be the beginnings of a mini-colonisation. Between 1994 and 2002 records fluctuated as the species struggled to get a toe hold with only 3 records in 1997 but by 2003 over 30 records marked the tipping point with birds at Beddington believed to be the pair that were breeding on Battersea Power Station. Pairs were soon after found breeding in central Croydon and in the last few years a pair has become established in central Sutton. Using the surrounding power stations and tower blocks as 'man-made cliffs' and watch towers it is great to know that these South London Pergrines are using Beddington Farmlands as one of their key feeding areas.

Sunday 13 December 2009

Beddington Farmlands Winter Birding Tour

Highlights of the local community winter birding tour included a Redshank on the northern lake and luckily the Water Rail was performing too (much to Gillian's joy).
I think the species count was 38 including 25+ Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 100+ Teal, 3 Snipe, 15+ Goldfinch, 10+ Chaffinch, 4 Jay, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker (heard), 15+ Gadwall, 30+ Shoveler, 1 Water Pipit (heard), 1 Sparrowhawk and a male Kestrel.
There was a concentration of winter thrushes along the path, attracted by a good crop of Hawthorn berries. In addition to the Redwings and Fieldfare there were also good numbers of Blackbird (10+) and a few Song Thrush- presumably winter migrants boosting our resident thrush populations.

Saturday 12 December 2009


Just enjoyed reading the latest BB, I couldn't help thinking that it read a bit like 'a far right' publication. Tony Fox writes 'Quite apart from the ecological and economic damage that they may or may not do, I simply do not like to see alien species...they represent some kind of litter (and in many cases self-sustaining, increasing litter at that)'.

Seems a bit hard on some of my favourite introduced birds such as Mandarin (above with a Wood Duck). I also liked Ruddy Ducks until they were eradicated.
More here:

Friday 11 December 2009

Mid-winter Beddington Farmlands

I've got a winter birding tour on Sunday, meeting at 0915 at Hackbridge Station. All are welcome. Target species will be Water Pipit, Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Stonechat, Teal and Peregrine. Had a quick look round today and met up with the Praters, Kojak and Dodge- pretty quiet on the birding front. 2 Peregrines about, a Water Pipit, Chiffchaff and still a few Redpolls. Gull numbers (pic) are typically very high this time of year on the landfill. Someone had a Med.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Local Guardian Photo Shoot

This is the photo I was hoping was going to be in the paper - i.e. with me in it! :-)) I posed and everything, the farm in the background, got the scope in the lot. Next time......

Thanks for the photo Staph.

Photo by M.Ousellam

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Planting at the obs

Things at the obs are progressing well. Like the farmlands, that it overlooks, the estate that I am living on suffers from mismanagement and neglect. Locally Hackbridge is known as a 'shite hole'.
Anyway, what shite holes need is a bloody good clear out, so, so far in addition to refurbishing my flat, I've managed to get the blinking carpet cleaned in the communal area and lucky for me the lady of the night that lived next door got evicted. I also have got permission to start improving the garden environment around my block. Of course all those improvements will be with birds in mind so today we turned the area outside my front door (above-before) into a planted area with pyracantha and cotoneaster for the birds, a bit if lavender for the insects and some photinia, eunoymous and pieris for decoration and aesthetics (below -after). I've got more extensive plans for the large communal area to the rear but first of all I want to see what happens to this little experiment. Not sure how the local vandals and kids are going to respond.

Monday 7 December 2009

Birding as a lifestyle

Birding is a lifestyle for me and not just a hobby. All aspects of the world around us are connected to birds directly or indirectly. Even political decisions and changes have fundamental effects on bird populations.
More here:

Sunday 6 December 2009

Heron sp.

I took thse shots of a heron flying over Beddington on May 2nd earlier this year. I thought it looked like a Purple Heron and forgot all about it until now as I was going through my photos. It was extremely high and migrating towards the northeast. It still looks like one to me. Any comments?

Mealy madness

Went looking for the Mealy again today. Saw three Lesser Redpolls, 40+ Linnet, 30+ Goldfinch, a Little Egret and 2 Peregrine. There was a bit of stake out going on for the Mealy. Various factions of the BFBG were covering various positions. It is always inconvenient when a rare turns up because it means that various factions have to run the risk of 'being near' each other. Needless to say I was enjoying the anthropology more than the Redpolls.

Redpoll taxonomy also popped up as a topic of conversation which led us to discussing the rationale behind those on the BOURC, which then as usual ended up on the Booted Eagle and then the Slender-billed Curlew. Basically in conclusion those of us who haven't seen the Mealy are anti-BOURC and support a redpoll lumping and those of us who have seen it, support the BOURC and this particular split.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Beddington Farmlands- it stinks

The wind must be have an east componet to it. The catch with living on an emerging urban nature reserve is that it is emerging from the restoration of a landfill site and sewage farm which doesn't always smell too clever. On nights like tonight it absolutely honks. There is a blinking pump going 24/7, draining out the Northern lake for the restoration that not only sings me to sleep but is also draining the water revealing the sediment which smells too- adding a new liquer to the cocktail of smells. Only 12 years to wait for the reserve.

Philosophical interlude

If you happen to be partial to wild language, over the top rhetoric and lots of ranting than visit:

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Redpolls at Beddington

Mike found a flock of Redpolls this morning with a Mealy Redpoll among them. I couldn't find the Mealy but this is the first time I have seen a flock of Lesser Redpoll feeding on the farm- there were 25+. The trees that were planted around the perimeter when the development started have now grown up and attracting good numbers of passerines. Also a few Redwings and Fieldfares buzzing and chacking around.

Some more on Redpolls here from a visit to Tring earlier on in the year:

Saturday 28 November 2009

Those were the days

I just found this screen grab of blog statistics from my stay on Corvo, the Azores. This blog was getting up to 1000 page views a day and made it in the top 5 on the Nature Blog Network. Nowadays it is getting around 70 page views a day and hovering around the 65 mark on the Natue Blog Network. I can't possibly understand why not so many people are interested in a landfill site in Croydon. I don't get it:-)

Thursday 26 November 2009

Local Guardian Article- Beddington Farmlands

Click on to read.
Pretty good I thought overall- I like Mike scoping the Short-eard Owl (Roger's photo)- nice touch.
Looking good Mike- bastards left me out of the photo- I did some good poses- wasted. Glad they got the Tree Sparrows in and hopefully the return of Short-eared Owl will be a marker that the restoration has been successful.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Waifs and strays

Went looking for a storm blown waif at Beddington but instead saw three Bullfinches, two Redpoll, 10+ Redwing, 8 Fieldfare, 30+ Goldfinch, 4 Linnet, 1 Reed Bunting, 10 Long-tailed Tit and 15+ Chaffinch along the footpath. Also Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker together and two Kingfishers on the lake.

Very pleasant little dudey morning.

Oh yes, I had a Tawny Owl wake my up at 0330 three nights ago- calling along the railway line. That's Bullfinch, Woodcock and Tawny Owl in the last few days- can be very difficult birds to get at Beddington. Haven't seen three Bullfinch over there in over a decade.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Beddington Farmlands- Winter

Restoration works are well under way now. The Southern and Northern Scrapes are being landscaped into wetland habitats (image one and two) but progress slowed by rain .

Teal on 100 acre (images three to five). About 200+ Teal so far on the 100 acre sludge beds. Also 10+ Green Sandpiper today, and a handful of Snipe.
In the trees around Hangman's there were 20+ Fieldfare and 15 Redwing, 4 Chaffinch, 30+ Goldfinch, 3 Reed Bunting and 1 Redpoll. Blackbirds and Dunnock seem to be numerous.