Thursday 29 July 2010



Most species have raised their young by August. Tufted Ducks are one of the latest breeding birds with the young appearing in late July/early August. Several species including Mallard, Moorhen and Coot have several broods. The breeding summer warblers and tits start to gather in flocks from mid July on. In recent years juvenile Peregrines are a feature.

Green Sandpipers
are one of the first returning migrants (from late June). In July numbers increase and they are joined by smaller numbers of Common Sandpiper. Lawpings start to form flocks from mid July onwards. Little Ringed Plovers are features of July with family parties often staging at the farm.
July is the best month for the locally rare Black-tailed Godwit. From late July onwards there is also a chance of seeing migrating Whimbrel and terns. Wood Sandpiper may also occur.

Several pulses of passerine migrants pass through during the early autumn. Presumably the first pulses involve locally breeding birds and the arrival of groups of warblers and migrants in August are presumably new groups of birds from further afield. Mixed warbler/ tit flocks are characteristic with Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and sometimes Garden Warbler. Cuckoo is a bird associated with early autumn. Wheatear and Whinchat are associated more with August onwards and a Spotted Flycatcher or Redstart
would be a real treat.

Set against the backdrop of the normal patterns described is the chance of a weather related influx (a fall or flight). North-east to east winds with associated frontal conditions can produce major disruptions to normal patterns and invoke an influx of deflected migrants with are both pushed overland and westwards by the wind and then forced to reduce altitude by low cloud cover/ rain. The normal migration pattern for these birds would involve a combination of a more eastward route and/or a much higher flight altitude. A light to moderate easterly airflow is the most conducive (the weather chart shows conditions on August 10th 1999 which produced 3 Knot and 7 Wood Sandpipers amongst a host of other waders). When wind speed and rain is too intense it appears that migration stops altogether. A good time to witness a significant 'fall' is just before the weather becomes intolerable.
To a lesser degree showers on prevailing winds can also produce falls with birds in effect being flushed down from higher altitude.

Early autumn birds

A classic early autumn suite of birds present today. In the water bird migrant department there were 27 Green Sandpipers, 8 Common Sandpipers, 4 L.R.P, 50+ Lapwing, a juvenile Common Gull, and 2 Shoveler. All these birds have already completed breeding and are now staging at Beddington.
One of the latest breeding waterbirds are Tufted Ducks and the first broods have only just appeared.
A common sound in early Autumn is the calls of Willow/chiffs (pic 1) which are prominent this time of year. Looks like the bird wave along Cuckoo Lane has moved elsewhere and Swifts numbers appear to be less than a few weeks ago.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Trip to Poland

I had a dilemma this weekend. Do I explore the Carpathian foothills looking for woodpeckers and forest mammals or hang out with 7 beautiful Polish sisters.
By the time I could make up my mind the weekend was over and now I'm home.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Reed Planting at Beddington

Hysni (top) and I (bottom) started planting the reed bed on the Southern Lake today with Beddington Farmlands ecologist Marcus (mid pic).

A good day's birding too while we were working: we got a juvenile Med Gull, Buzzard and Blackwit from the truck and Greenshank flew over while we were working. 2 LRP were on the northern lake. Juvenile Peregrine from the obs when I got back.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Good evening

Walked round the farm with Simon this evening. It had an autumn feel today. 5 Whimbrel (pic 2) heading south was the highlight and great views of the juvenile Peregrine.

Also 6 Common Sandpiper, 10 Green Sandpiper, 2 LRP and 20+ Lapwing.

Monday 19 July 2010

London Human Wildlife

Here is a link to a gallery of some photos from a project that I worked on that was aimed at photographing London and it's people from the view point of a wildlife photographer.!/album.php?aid=230600&id=701232517&ref=mf

Sunday 18 July 2010

White-tailed Plover at Dungeness

Well... why not; Sunday afternoon, nothing to do, drive up, look and drive back. I know it's wrong but just once in a while surely can't do no harm.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Blackwit at Beddington

Adult Black-tailed Godwit on 100 acre this morning. Also 2 Teal, 30+ Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper and 1 L.R.P.

Wednesday 14 July 2010


I am leading a bird tour on Sunday August 8th. The meet up is at Hackbridge Train Station at 0915 to 0930. The tour duration is 1.5 to 2 hours. Hopefully there should be some waders about like Greenshank (pic) and also plenty of other migrants. There is a good chance of Hobby, Green and Common Sandpipers, probably lots of warblers and maybe Whinchat, Wheatear and Cuckoo.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Early autumn

The Cuckoo Lane tit and warbler flock appears to be growing; about 20 or so birds- Great and Blue tits, 4-6 Blackcap, Wrens, Dunnocks, 2 Whitethroat and 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Also a juvenile Great Spot which presumably was the same bird in my garden earlier today. A few finch family parties around- Linnets, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.
Young gulls are increasing in numbers- the juvenile Herring and LBB Gull have joined the young Black-heads.
One of the juvenile Peregrines was around- presumably one from the recently fledged Sutton birds.
Jim's Pit continues to attract plenty of waders; 20+ Green Sand, 1 Common Sand, 4 LRP (pic), 40+ Lapwing and also 10+ Pied Wagtail.

Sunday 11 July 2010


A lot of insects about in this heat. Last night I left the window and the light on in the obs. It turned into a giant moth trap. My flat mate got bled dry by mosquitos but they don't seem to like me. It is handy having him as bait for the trap.
Large numbers of butterflies over the farm this weekend. Highlight was a Marbled White.

Saturday 10 July 2010


The post breeding passerine flock(s) are beginning to form at the farm. An annual event in late summer. Today there was a 'bird wave' or mixed flock consisting of 20+ Long-tailed Tits, 4 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits, 3 Blackcaps, 2 Whitethroats, 4 Chiffchaff and 1 Willow Warbler along Cuckoo Lane. They seemed to be feeding on hemlock. Also two juvenile Peregrine around, 20+ Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Swallow.

Friday 9 July 2010


Some Beddington Birding highlights so far of 2010 (top to bottom) Pacific Golden Plover (Roger Browne), Common Crane, Osprey (Roger Browne) and Lapland Bunting.

Here (link below) is the text to the Beddington newsletter for January to June 2010. For the full version with plenty of colour photos join the mailing list by emailing me at with JOIN MAILING LIST in the subject box.


Lots of insects about in this heat. Had a walk round the farm tonight: 1 Hobby, 1 Little Egret, 10+ Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Woodpecker, 150+ Swift, 40+ Lapwing, 1 Willow Warbler (lemon juv).
All quiet really. For much more interesting reading than the scrapings of my barrel check out Simon's blog about his recent expedition to the Alaskan tundra. For guns, bears and American waders click here:

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Green Sands at Beddington

Over the last several days Green Sandpiper numbers have been building up to around 27-28. That is a usual event this time of year as is me trying to get close enough to photograph one and failing miserably.
Also Common Sandpiper and 2 LRP around. Lapwing and Black-headed Gull numbers are also building. An adult Mediterranean Gull yesterday is a classic July bird.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Focusing on Beddington Lapwings

Status: Breeding resident, migrant (prone to hard weather movements), post breeding and winter visitor.
Highest Count: 3000 on January 15th 1955 followed heavy snow and 3000 at the beginning of the 1962/63 freeze up
Population Trends: Breeding population fluctuating between two and 25 pairs from 1930 to present. Up to 22 pairs in 1950' s and 25 pairs in 2003 following targeted conservation measures.
Post breeding/wintering flocks declined since highs of the 1950s and 1960s (often up to 600). Another step down from annual maxima of 200-300 in the mid 1990s to 110 to 170 in the last decade.

Post breeding birds showing adult birds in various stages of moult (click on to enlarge).

Friday 2 July 2010


Steve Blain got some video of presumably the same bird when it was at his patch:

Good size comparison with other gulls and also some video of the bird in flight.

Also another birdforum thread here:

Beddington on Fire!

That's twice this year the farm has been on fire. In early May with the Common Crane and Pacific Golden Plover in one weekend and now today- with the flames not quite lapping at my window but not far off- thank God for the railway line.