Thursday 29 April 2010

Spring Evening- Beddington Farmlands

Quite a few summer migrants singing away this evening- 4 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and also 4 Little Ringed Plover (pic 2) about, 20+ Sand Martin, 15 Swift, 10+ Swallow, 4 Shelduck and 2 Little Egret. Still one Shoveler and the odd Teal still hanging in there. There's a few Gadwall hanging around so will be good if they stay to breed.

Wednesday 28 April 2010


Spent today at the Wandle Valley Regional Park Conference organised by The Wandle Forum, Natural England and Groundwork London.
Johnny and I (me top pic) presented an update on the development of Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve and also got loads of advice on how to develop things further (bottom pic).

At one point things got a little bit weird: see here:


to the farmlands becuase I didn't have permission, didn't own the fence or the land either side or some nonsense but now they want to demolish the bridge! This is winding me up- I'm going to have to tunnel under the railway to get there.
If the nature reserve visitors centre is going to be in the Hackbridge field than this bridge will be the main access route to the farmlands! We need it!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Portugal-Holland-Iceland- Beddington Farmlands

This colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit was at Beddington on the weekend. Roger has tracked down the migration history of this bird which is here:
Turns out this bird spends the summer in Iceland, winters in Portugal and passes through Holland and the UK in between. Strangely the bird was in Holland a few days ago and decided to come to Beddington which seems to be the wrong direction to get to Iceland- maybe didn't want to fly into the volcanic dust??

Sunday 25 April 2010


What a great little day. A good turn out for the Spring Migration Bird Walk. Weather was on our side with some rain and cloud forcing migrants down. The undisputed highlight of the day was a reeling Grasshopper Warbler (around the 20th record for Beddington and only my second) which we found on 100 acre. Another highlight was this male Whinchat (pic 1) which was a prize for the late staying tour members. In terms of newly arrived migrants there were also 6 Wheatears, 20+ Swift, 15+ Sand Martin, 5+ Swallow, 15+ House Martin, 3 Reed Warblers, 1 Sedge Warbler, 6+ Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper
and 1 Greenshank.

Saturday 24 April 2010


I do believe we are in luck for tomorrow's tour. Approaching frontal conditions with light drizzle, moving into a southerly airflow could well create fall conditions.

In other words, migrants flying tonight will set off in nice warm air and clear skies hoping to make it as far north as possible. By mid-night they will start moving into cloud and rain, won't be too happy about that and will give up migrating- they will look for a suitable resting place and will wait for the rain to pass.

So the birding forecast tomorrow is: hopefully an interesting tern or gull, a scattering of common migrant land birds, an influx of hirundines and maybe an interesting wader or two.


Been a good early spring period and we are now moving into the peak time. Highlights so far have included Firecrest, Osprey, two Marsh Harriers, six Red Kites (pic 1), Grasshopper Warbler, Kittiwake (pic 3)and also Curlews (bottom), Ruff, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Pintail and Oystercatcher. Common migrants have been arriving steadily (pic 2 &4 Whitethroat and Blackcap).
Tomorrow is the Spring Migration Bird Tour which I am leading. All are welcome. Meeting at Hackbridge Train Station at 0915. Tour to last 1.5 to 2 hours.
Roger took the superb Kittiwake and Curlew photos: more here

Red Kite- Beddington Farmlands

A few new migrants today including a Black-tailed Godwit on the lake, a Red Kite over, one or two Common Buzzards and a Lesser Whitethroat.
Photos by Roger:
This Black-tailed Godwit was ringed in Iceland.

Wednesday 21 April 2010


Back up the tower today (background on this project). Migrants seen included Oystercatcher, Rook, 3 Common Buzzard, 1 Swift and small numbers of Hirundines. Highlight of the day was a Buzzard and a Peregrine having a dog fight over St.Pancras Train Station (pics one and two). BBC Natural World were filming proceedings for a documentary about wildlife in London (bottom pic).

Tuesday 20 April 2010


My mate Sam is out in Texas at the moment watching the American spring migration. Some great photos of superb birds here:

Sunday 18 April 2010

Azorean Gull

Discussion thread here:
Been reading up on 'Atlantic Gull' populations recently. Dorit Liebers et al (2001, 2004- see link below) have carried out genetic studies and made some interesting discoveries. Atlantic Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are traditionally considered to be close relatives but their genes tell a different story. Atlantic Gulls were derived from an ancient population of gulls (green circle on map) which became isolated in the North Atlantic about 250,000 years ago (during an ice age) and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were derived from a population at the same time that were isolated in central Asia (cream circle on map). So they are not closely related.

Interestingly, the first 'Yellow-legged Gulls' to evolve were on the Atlantic islands/coast and these Atlantic Gulls colonized the Mediterranean. A first colonization event led to the evolution of Armenian Gull and later colonization led to the evolution of Yellow-legged Gull. Most interesting of all is a genetic north/south divide in Atlantic Gulls. The birds on Madeira and mainland Morocco are different to the birds of the Azores and Iberian Atlantic coasts. It also appears that it was the Azores and Iberian Atlantic gulls that colonized the Mediterranean to give rise to Yellow-legged and Armenian Gull while the southern Atlantic Gulls appear to have been sedentary.

It has taken me about three weeks to get my head round that so I may have misunderstood it. Comments very welcome.

Atlantic Gull photo collection here:
For Dorit Lieber's et al article see here:


Saturday 17 April 2010


When I moved into my new flat the plan was to get involved in the 'Hackbridge Project'. Part of the initiative is greening this village- planting trees, wildlife gardening, garden makeovers,etc.

Well that was right up my street so I moved in to get involved. First thing I did was tree planting in the communal area . Of course I was expecting vandals to damage it all. Well I was not wrong and now the 'vandals' have arrived........ but not how I expected.

Two words.... Neighbourhood Watch!

Seems there are dark forces at work; spying busy bodies, reporting 'lease-breakers' to poorly managed authorities, who hiding behind letters and sub-contractors enforce 'lease interpretations' against the will of residents at exploitative rates. This generates a vengeful response in the residents who deliberately contravene the lease creating a negative feed loop.

And the crime in this case which has attracted the full might of Neighbourhood Watch. The hideous threat to society that has been successfully thwarted.........
a water barrel in the communal area, collecting rain water to water the new trees.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Tower 42 Migration Watch

Up on the tower again as part of the Tower 42 Bird Study Group. Total sightings included 1 Red Kite, 2-3 Common Buzzard (pic 3), 2 Sparrowhawk and several Peregrines (pic 1). Perhaps most surprising sighting was a Painted Lady butterly, fluttering around the top at 600ft- very early!

We are attempting to co-ordinate the sightings of migrating birds between Beddington Farmlands and central London. Johnny, positioned at the farmlands, reported very little in the way of visible migration from that position.
Links on the Tower 42 Bird Study Group:

Sunday 11 April 2010

Azorean Gull

Please follow link:


Whitethroats are in now (I had three birds today), 2-3 Willow Warblers singing, Swallows and Sand Martins yesterday evening were buzzing around the flower estate, Chiffchaffs (top pic) were in full song, another Buzzard causing chaos with the gulls and crows and also two Little Ringed Plovers.
With improved visibility today I could clearly see Tower 42 from Beddington (mid image, tower on far left).
We will be co-ordinating visible migration watching from Beddington and the Tower (image below) and the next session will be this Tuesday.

Friday 9 April 2010

Buzzard from the window- Beddington Farmlands

It's that time of year again. There were 17 Buzzards over the farmlands marking the beginning the spring influx.

Wednesday 7 April 2010


Sky-watching from a skycraper! Brilliant idea, mastered by David Lindo. We saw bugger all but I loved it!

First day bad luck here:

Tower 42 Bird Study Group Blog here:
Something else:


Click on the arrow. No visible migration today in a northwest wind and rain but what a view! Can't wait to see some raptors from here.

Tuesday 6 April 2010


Marsh Harrier (top shot) and Common Buzzard with Carrion Crow from the obs today. This is the kind of views we get of high migrating raptors some days. I am up on Tower 42 tomorrow looking for visible migration over central London with David Lindo's project. The forecast looks like overnight south winds changing to north winds by mid-day- that could be interesting! A change like that could 'catch out' migrants.

Sunday 4 April 2010


A very nice visible migration day with birds moving in all directions. An Osprey (top pic) flew north, a Common Buzzard was flying in different directions, 2 Curlew went south-west, 2 Pintail flew south-east and there were about 10 Swallows heading north. Other migrants around also included a female White Wagtail on the lake, 2 Willow Warblers and one Water Pipit.
Great photos by Roger Browne and more here:

Azorean Gull

Bird forum thread here:

More here:

Saturday 3 April 2010


If you would like a free cd of our music/art project than send an email to with your name and address.
This music project is a small part of the creation of a sustainable pro-environmental community where I live.
Videos here:

Thursday 1 April 2010


There have been a few interesting claims in the past couple of years of Azorean Gulls occurring in the UK- which would be great to prove.
I have been studying the large white-headed gull populations of the Azores since 2001
and am now attempting to fill in some gaps in knowledge. More on this here: