Tuesday 30 November 2010


It seems like last winter only just ended! (view from the obs this morning)

Sunday 28 November 2010

Goosander flyby

Woke up, looked out of the window and a male Goosander flew past- first time I've seen one in ages at the farm. Also two Peregrines from the bed.
I decided not to be lazy and went for a walk out in the cold- there were a couple of Water Pipits on 100 acre and also 15+ Chaffinch, 10+ Linnet, 15+ Goldfinch and 10+ Reed Bunting about. A Green Woodpecker and a Kestrel were looking for food on the mound.
Everything is frozen and it looks like wildfowl numbers are down.

Saturday 27 November 2010

World Birds at Beddington

I was having a look at the bird feeders this morning and remembering how I had seen several of the familiar species in other far flung parts of the world. Great Tit (pic 1) is a species that i have seen in many parts of Eurasia, India and the Far East. Geographical variation across it's range is highly complex (over 30 races are described in HBW) but in the UK, newtoni is the sub-species.
Tree Sparrows (pic 2) occur across the whole of Eurasia and the Orient and they have also been introduced to Pacific islands and Australasia.

Chaffinch (pic 3) is a more restricted range species occurring mainly in west Eurasia and parts of North Africa and also Macronesia (although introduced to a wider area including New Zealand). There are up to 14 races including a very distinctive form which occurs in my foreign patch- the Azores. 'Azorean Chaffinch' (winter male for comparison in pic 4) differs from the Chaffinches at Beddington in having a green mantle instead of brown, peachy underparts and face instead of rusty-red and extensive grey on the flanks and vent. There are also structural and vocalisation differences.
PS. I was ponsing about in the obs this morning and missed a Waxwing which flew southeast which I need for my Beddington list.

Friday 26 November 2010

Proto-type Book 2

Trying to reach the end of year deadlines to get these books done. Here is the proto-type for the music/art project. Gettting there.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Daddylong legs

Been working on our music/art project this week. Got some new stuff coming out soon. Here is one of the pieces we did earlier this year- a cartoon and track called Daddy Long Legs. Its is inspired by my first experiences with nature- which was mindlessly being cruel to nature. The track is really about a fantasy character who doesn't grow out of it.


Sunday 21 November 2010

November Migration

A north-east wind and low cloud produced good conditions for visible migration. I missed a male Pintail this morning but did see an adult Little Gull flying east which I did get a photo of but the photo is too bad for even this blog- which is saying something. Also a Short-eared Owl from the obs window after being alerted by the troops in the hide.
Also going over were 130+ Lesser Black--backed Gull moving south in small groups (pic 2), 10 Siskin, 30+ Fieldfare and 10+ Redwing.
There was also an influx of Lapwing (pic 1) with 55 birds present and also more Shoveler (pic 3) around with 80+ on site. Also 3 Snipe. Teal (pic 4) numbers are down on last week from 350 to 150. There was a Water Pipit on 100 acre yesterday.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Glorious mud

Had a very pleasant walk this morning pondering various nature reserve aspects including public access to the farmlands. We encountered the problem with clay paths and problems of the the public getting stuck in the mud. Take photos of them and laugh was the best solution we could come up with. Problem solved!

Thursday 18 November 2010


Seven long years to get this far! Almost there- one final edit. If you want a copy let me know becuase they will be printed to order. Price depends on how many copies we order. A great Xmas present for the wife- not too heavy, nice and slender so doesn't need too much space on the shelf (fig 5).

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Non-Stop Birding

Pic by Twigg.

Two or three years ago I single handedly started an eco-social movement called Non-stop Birding and I am pleased to announce that the movement has gone from strength to strength and...... well I am still at it, single handedly- although for a brief time I had a non English speaking Bulgarian join in the crusade (who gave up once he learnt English and understood what I was going on about).

Well what is Non-Stop Birding?

a) Understanding that birds are connected to and dependent on the wider ecological, social and economic environment and ultimately the welfare of birds depends on the wildlife sensitive management of that wider system

b) Understanding that the protection of birds depends on birds being valued in society at large and protection being incorporated at the system level- in birds being provided for in all of societies endeavours- housing, industry, culture and agriculture. In other words for birds and wildlife to become a 'must have' in the human environment.

c) Personal implemention of the protection of birds and promotion of birding in every endeavour i) At work ii) In the garden iii) In local community activities iv) at the local patch v) on holiday and vi) anything else e.g. down the pub or up the club

d) Despite being a birding freak doing a personal very best to conform (to at least a minimalist level) to wider social expectations (in manners and appearance) and engagements in order to be a good ambassador for birding and to promote the value of birds to others.

e) Birding just for fun and interest as much as feasibly possible.

f) Doing a personal best to be a birder and a normal(ish) human and if they still aint happy well.... f##k em.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Sunrise over Beddington Farmlands

A bit of vis mig this morning- 100+ Woopigeons and 100+ Fieldfare.

Monday 15 November 2010


Love him or hate him- he is always at the top!

Sunday 14 November 2010

Flyover Bearded Tits!

Migrating Bearded Tits!!..... comical! They look like they are flying into a gale force head wind but it was dead calm! All the other migrants were over taking them. Anyway like all hearty efforts- good to see them having a go and only the 10th record for Beddington.

Also today a Short-eared Owl flying around, 1 Redpoll over, 4 Siskin, 2 Skylark, 30+ Meadow Pipit, 20+ Linnet, 20+ Chaffinch, 10+ Goldfinch and a small influx of thrushes on the old gravel pit- including 10+ Blackbird, 10+ Song Thrush and the odd Fieldfare and Redwing. About 4 Goldcrests about, 1 Chiffchaff and 15+ Long-tailed Tit. Good numbers of wildfowl with 500+ Teal, 50+ Shoveler, 1 Wigeon, 1 Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 40+ Lapwing, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Snipe and the 'wintering' Common Sandpiper is still around. 1 Kes and 1 Sprawk.

PS The light was awful today- low cloud and mist.
Btw: for some proper photos of short-eareds check out these pics: http://pewit.blogspot.com/2010/11/another-short-eared-owl-fest.html

Saturday 13 November 2010

A message in the dregs

Thousands of pounds spent on sacrificial crops, tens of thousands of pounds spent on consultancy, millions spent on the restoration project and the result........ not much to sing and dance about.

Someone dumps a load of screenings from a filter on the side of the road because they can't be bothered to take them to landfill and the result...... 50+ Chaffinches, 1 Brambling, 20 + Tree Sparrow and 8 Reed Bunting (and some pigeons).

There is a lesson in here somewhere. Probably something like- 'make use of the zero cost material and resources you have available on site to attract birds rather than (or as well as) trying expensive 'sophisticated' and 'clever' methods which are just as effective or in most cases worse and in Beddington's case - don't work at all :-))'

What a load of sh#t.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Beddington Farmlands and the Wandle Valley Regional Park

I attended the Wandle Valley Regional Park Working Groups launch today. Beddington Farmlands will be one of the key components of the Regional Park which will form a unified area of ecological and cultural interest 13 miles in length. An interesting meeting and another step in the right direction.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Meltdown :-)

Sorry, I know this is supposed to be a birding blog but I really do think that a social and environmental revolution is continuing to ignite which will have fundamental implications for birds and wildlife as a new set of society values are won. It is going to be a very long and hard battle with those fighting for people and the planet pitched agaisnt the current order which is largely pro-minority/ anti- social and anti-environment. Basically the debate of our generation is coming to a head.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Somewhere out there....

There is a regular exchange of gulls between Beddington and the Thames Estuary so it is quite possible this bird turns up at Beddington.
Anyway I saw bugger all except 2 Yellow-legged Gulls and 2 Dunlin. I've been missing a few good beddington birds over the last couple of days : http://dodge007.blogspot.com/2010/11/good-day-at-farm.html

Sunday 7 November 2010

November Beddington

A bit of vis mig today in sunny skies with a light north east breeze. 100+ Woodpigeons, 5 Brambling, 4 Redpoll and 20+ Chaffinch flew over. 15+ Meadow Pipit on the mound, 2 Redwings along the path, 10+ Blackbirds, 30+ Goldfinch, 2 Goldcrest and 10+ Pied Wagtail. The Common Sandpiper was still present and there is a leucistic Herring Gull around (above). There were 2 Wigeon on the lake in addition to 200+ Teal and 30+ Shoveler. One Peregrine, 2 Kestrel and one Sparrowhawk.

Ring-necked Parakeets- a former Beddington vagrant. Several hundred birds now fly over Beddington at dusk to roost somewhere to the north.

Wednesday 3 November 2010


Black-capped Petrel, Graciosa, (26/05/07) by Killian Mullarney

We will be arranging a pelagic off the Azores for next spring, targeting speciality seabirds including the endemic Monteiro's Storm Petrel (at sea) and also Barolo Shearwater, Bulwers Petrel and Wilson's Petrel. We will also be exploring for Trindade and Black-capped Petrels. These species occur regularly in the Gulf Stream off Cape Hatteras and Trindade Petrel has been predicted to migrate into Azorean waters (see Flood, B & Danzenbaker, M 2009. Birding World 22:4) . This prediction is supported by a series of casual observations. Further exploration off the Azores, targeting these species at the prime time of year with modern chumming techniques is aimed at testing this prediction. This has not been attempted before.
The backdrop will be good numbers of cetaceans and other marine life.
Here's a few photos from previous 'recces'.

Top to Bottom: Barolo Shearwater, Monteiro's Storm Petrel, Great Shearwater, Wilson's Petrel, 'Fea's' Petrel, Loggerhead Turtle, Sperm Whale, Sowerby's Beaked Whale , Blue Shark and Cory's Shearwater.

For further details and to register an interest in joining this mini-expedition please send me an email (littleoakgroup@btinternet.com)