Thursday 30 September 2010


Top to bottom: Vagrants from previous years, Common Nighthawk, Bobolink, Hudsonian Godwit, The island of Sao Miguel, Wilson's Petrels

October is almost on us which means one thing- it is the silly season for birding when birders spread out over the four corners of Britain and Europe to hunt rarities. The Azores are the top place in our region to find American vagrants and things are hotting up out there. I will be on the Azores from next weekend for two weeks and in the meantime will be nervously watching as this Azores season unfolds. Here is the latest from Dominic who is out there at the moment and has found one of my dream birds :

And as ever and always, latest news and pics are here:

Sunday 26 September 2010

Little Stint and Vis Mig

We had out first Little Sint, a juv (above) for the year today and there was also a few migrants about. The most noteworthy event of the day was an influx of Mistle Thrush (pic 2) with 22 birds on or over the site.

Wildfowl numbers seem to be higher with 120+ Teal, 45+ Shoveler, 6 Gadwall, 1 juv Wigeon and 2 juvenile Shelducks. The five Egyptian Geese are still around.
Three Dunlin were still present but the Greenshank and Common Sandpiper seem to have gone. Green Sandpipers stand at 6-7 with up to 7 Snipe (and the others saw a Jack Snipe this morning).
House Martins (200+) and a few Swallows continue to stream northwards, which I am bored of saying is strange now because it is very common to see them heading seemingly the wrong way in autumn.
There was a Yellow Wagtail yesterday, about 15 Mipits today, 1 Reed Bunting around, 20+ Goldfinch, 20+ Linnet, 60+ Tree Sparrow and only one or two Chiffchaffs in the bushes.

Saturday 25 September 2010


I was at the obs this afternoon working but kept getting disturbed by emails coming in about Gannets invading the Thames Estuary and some being seen towards Rainham and over North London. Therefore I decided that working was a bad idea and went over the farm to wait for one of them that had decided to cut across land to the south coast. Dodge and Kojak soon joined in the vigil and just as I was about to go into a rant about rarities committees, Dodge quite calmly said 'Hey lads, there are three Gannets here' to which I replied "F### me #####y you ####ing w###king ####" and Kojak started screaming .
More here:

Wednesday 22 September 2010


Exciting things are set to happen to Hackbridge. The local authority Masterplan lists many exciting targets for this village including:

The Generation of a Community Hub at the centre of Hackbridge- new shops, cafes, restaurants, health facilities etc
1100 energy efficient new homes
High quality employment- JOBS!
Generation of our own energy
Better public transport
Priority to Pedestrians and Cyclists
New open spaces for wildlife and plants as well as people
One Planet Living Principles

Also the Masterplan lists many key factors to making this work:

Local businesses fundamental to a successful local economy
Grants available for the improvement of the existing housing stock
A significant raise in the quality of the area
The development of a strong economy

and with particular reference to One Planet Principles:

All buildings and structures to be heated by renewable energy
The elimination of the concept of waste
The use of reclaimed, recycled and local materials for all building with a reclamation yard in Hackbridge
Private and communal garden food growing
Fruit trees in the landscape
Rainwater harvesting
Significant percentage of land developed for biodiversity value
An inclusive, active community life, respecting, valuing and enhancing local culture and heritage

Sounds good :-)))

Sunday 19 September 2010


I finally caught up with the Pectoral Sandpiper today but it was at distance on the enclosed beds (above). Another good bird on the enclosed beds- a juvenile Knot and two Dunlins flew over. There was also 2 Whinchat (one with a Stonechat from the obs window) and 1 Wheatear, 10+ Meadow Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail over and also a heavy passage of hirundines- mainly House Martins. One male Peregrine was causing havoc. Also looked like there were more Shoveler around.

Johnny got a photo of the Knot:

Saturday 18 September 2010


Had a good day at the Hackbridge Carnival. Some good and promising local musicians, a lot of interest in Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve (display above), burgers and hot dogs for a quid and more cake than you can wave a stick at.
I still aint seen the pec or buntings!

Friday 17 September 2010


A juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper at Beddington yesterday.

I have actually discovered a new way of Beddington Birding. Work from the office, get a text of a rare bird outside the window, have a look out of the window and see lots of people running round, go back to my work and after an hour or two look at the rare bird in question on my computer window. It's brilliant!

Here's yesterdays Pec:

and here are the Lapland Buntings again:

Wednesday 15 September 2010


This Saturday it's the Hackbridge Carnival. Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve will have an information stand there as part of the on going local community awareness campaign.
It's been a busy week, so much so that I didn't even get time to get over the farm to see the two Lap Bunts today. Hope to find some time tomorrow.
In the meantime- I'll just have a look at them here:

Saturday 11 September 2010

Grey Heron and Purple-loosestrife

If you tilt your head in the right position and block out the surrounding view- there are actually beams of beauty at Beddington :-) It's a work in progress.

'UK's first sustainable village' community meeting

All this nature reserve and sustainable village stuff is stressing me out. How hard can it be- well as hard as people want to make it and people round here want to make is as hard and boring as blinking possible. We had a community meeting on Thursday which was about as interesting as my old days in the religious cult that my mum used to drag me to twice a week. I thought Hackbridge was supposed to be spear heading a revolution in society. If this is a revolution than it is a bloody big one of imperceptible speed- like the rock cycle. I tried to spice things up a bit by hurling abuse at the speaker but the plebs shouted me down instead of rising up and storming the joint :-)) Oh well, better try something else.

Sunday 5 September 2010

Lots of migrants, Nothing rare

It was one of those days at the farmlands- loads of common birds about but nothing too unusual- apart from the fact that there were lots of common birds about. So the tally went 25+ Chiffchaff (pic 1)+, 10+ Willow Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 10+ Whitethroat (pic 2), 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Blackcap, 1 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat, 4 Swift, a passage of 90+ Swallow, 10+ Sand Martin, 15+ House Martin, 4 Greenshank, 4-5 Green Sandpiper, 2 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 1 Snipe, 1 Common Buzzard (pic 4), 2 Hobby (pic 3), 3 Kestrel, 3 Sparrowhawk and the bird of the day was Goldcrest- the first one I have seen on the farm this year!

Birding Forecast Update

Brown Flycatcher (today) in East Yorkshire and Great Snipe (yesterday) at Spurn confirms my forecast from two days ago. Also a scattering of scarce migrants like Barred Warbler, Wrynecks, Red-Backed Shrike, Ortolans. However I missed the extent of this influx- with eastern scarce migrants occurring in the south and west too. Also Eastern Olivaceous and Sykes Warbler on near continent.
Anyway, the weather for the next few days looks very interesting indeed (See forecast for Tuesday 07/09/10 above). That extensive high over Eurasia with a massive corridor of easterlies means there is a window for 'experimental migrants' heading this way. Those strengthening south-easterlies over the North Sea should concentrate birds on the Northern Isles and the North East coast. I guess the southerly element coming up from Iberia could bring Southern scarce migrants too so we could have double bubble- random oriented migrants heading up from the south and east. Those fronts should interact with the migrants in complex ways- perhaps funnelling birds around them and causing falls in localised areas. Also the strength of the winds could mean seabirds on the east coast too with perhaps some penetrating in land.
Prediction: Eastern vagrants and scarce migrants on Northeast Coast and Northern Isles. Scarce migrants in south and south west. Seabirds off East and South coasts (maybe inland sightings too). Overshoot vagrants and migrants also reaching west coast hot spots. As for Beddington- perhaps one of our best chances for a scarce migrant like a Wryneck, Ortolan etc but would settle for a Black Tern or Pied Flycathcer.

Saturday 4 September 2010


South east winds and some fog produced some migrant activity this morning. I missed 4 Ringed Plover and 1 Golden Plover but had 1 Dunlin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wigeon (first birds of the autumn) and 10-15 Chiffchaff, 3-4 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap and 1 Lesser Whitethroat along the path. 4-5 Swifts still present. There seem to be a few more Robins about.
In the evening there were 10+ House Martins, 4 Kestrels, 1 Common Tern flew over and a Whinchat was north of the lake.

Birding Forecast

A high pressure over most of Europe presents a window for migrants on east sector to west sector headings. These migrants are a result of migration dispersal - where individuals in a population migrate in different directions - the majority in the most established (successful) direction but others in 'experimental' directions. These migrants could be sourced from further east so the potential for vagrants is high. As these migrants head towards the west coastline of Europe the strengthening south east winds should start to funnel and concentrate them onto the east coast headlands and Northern isles. Critical to this pattern of vagrancy is a no-obstacle high pressure system over Eurasia.
Prediction: Eastern vagrants and scarce migrants on the Northern Isles and North-East Coastline in the next five days.
These high pressure cells with east sector winds can be good for raptor passage. There was a big passage of raptors off Spurn yesterday so perhaps some will make their way overland and south over the next couple of days. Without cloud cover birds can be very high and most migrants head straight over without needing to stop.
Prediction: Hopefully some raptor activity at Beddington in the next couple of days. The odd grounded migrant. Hirundine passage. Fog in the mornings could help to ground some of those migrants going overhead.

Friday 3 September 2010

Mid-Autumn at Beddington Farmlands

It must be September. Only 3 Swifts flying around this evening, a passage of Swallows was on (10+ birds), Green Sandpiper numbers are down to 4-5, only 2 Common Sandpipers left, 3 Greenshank (pic 3)are hanging in there and a few (at least 2) Snipe (pic 2) are about. Chiffchaffs (pic 1) are also out numbering Willow Warbler now with up to 30 Chiffs about in the last few days. Teal numbers are up to 40+, with 6 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall. The Tufted Duck chicks are almost fully grown. A Ringed Plover was on the Northern Lake today and we had a Buzzard going over at around 11am. The two Peregrines were around again and there seem to be more Sparrowhawks about.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Birdwatch Article- Beddington Farmlands

This month's Birdwatch magazine features an article about Beddington Farmlands. The magazine is available from WHSmith.

Wesbite here:

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Beddington Farmlands Reed Planting Update

Spent this afternoon with Monika having a look at the progress with the reed planting on the Southern Lake. The project got a bit of a beating last week with the floods- some of the cells were pushed over and some of the reeds were also washed out but after some repair work hopefully things should be okay. Some of the young reeds got totally submerged for several days.
Also had a quick look around- 4 Ringed Plover on the enclosed beds, 1 male Wheatear on the mounds, 2 Common Sandpiper on the Southern Lake and also five Egyptian Geese (pic 3).