Wednesday 30 March 2011

Red Kite Alert

I was working from the obs when Roger called to say a Red Kite (pic 2) was circling to the NE. Well I couldn't see it at first and soon released the bird was SE from where I was quickly learning that directions are pretty limited when people are standing north and south of each other. Anyway I managed to get on to it - so thanks Roger for the call. Also a Sand Martin from the obs.

Had a walk round this evening looking for Wheatear. This Mipit (pic 1) on the mound was obliging but not a lot else. I had 8-9 Green Sandpipers yesterday but only 4 tonight. About 10 Snipe on 100 acre. 1 female Wigeon on the Southern Lake. A Redshank also on 100 acre. About 20 Teal remaining, 15-20 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall and 4-5 Shelduck.

Sparrowhawks (2-3 birds) were displaying again today.

Tuesday 29 March 2011

Back in Business

Got over the farm this evening. Nothing really- got an ok shot of a male Teal (pic 1). Had 5-6 Sand Martins (pic 2) from the obs window during the day and a singing Willow Warbler along the railway track. About 5 Blackcaps on the perimeter this evening.

Monday 28 March 2011

Sick at the Obs

I have been sick today so had to spend the day in the obs. Had two Buzzards (pic 1) , a Grey Heron (pic 2) at the feeders! and a few Robins about which I presume some are migrants passing through (i took this photo yesterday pic 3). Also male Blackcap at the feeders.

Sunday 27 March 2011

Spring Sunday

A bit nippy out there but a bit of an arrival last night. Willow Warbler (pic 4), 8+ Chiffchaff (pic 5) and 3 Blackcap were singing along the path. 2 Redpoll went over, a few Sand Martins and seems like there were more Song Thrushes and Robins around too. Plenty of songsters including this Wren (pic 2) and the 40+ Fieldfare are still on 100 acre (pic 2). Bird of the day was an adult winter Little Gull that flew over the lake and got chased off by a big gull (pic 1).

Friday 25 March 2011

More Migrants

Had a quick walk round 100 acre this evening. About 40+ Fieldfare (pic 3) there (new birds), a few Redwings (pic 2), 4 Green Sandpiper, 4 Snipe, 3 Water Pipit and 30+ Teal. Had this pale morph Common Buzzard (pic 1) go past the window earlier.
Still haven't seen a sub-saharan. 5 Chiffchaffs singing and a male Blackcap were presumably locally wintering birds.

Med Gulls on the move

Spring migration is not just about sub-saharan summer migrants (and good job too because I haven't actually seen any yet). Over the last week or two Cormorants, gulls, Meadow Pipits (pic 4), Buzzards (pic 3), Woodpigeons (pic 5), Linnets and Chaffinches have been moving. Today in about 90 minutes I had 30+ Meadow Pipits, 6 Linnet, 1 Cormorant, 3 Buzzards and most interesting of all were 3 (2 2nd win and 1 adult) Mediterranean Gulls migrating over at height (pic 1 and 2).

Thursday 24 March 2011

Spring unfolding at Beddington

Nice weather today but the closest thing I could get to a summer migrant was a female Blackcap (pic 1) and a couple of Chiffchaffs. I also had 2 Water Pipits on 100 acre, about 30 Teal still, 4 Green Sandpiper, 6 Fieldfare, 1 Buzzard ( pic 3 and another two from the window yesterday) and nice to see the passerines amongst the Blackthorn flowers (pic 2 with Blue Tit) .
Oh yes- I almost forgot I had 2 Waxwings on Stanley Park Road, Carshalton this morning- there were also about 25 nearby a couple of weeks ago that I saw while out working that I totally forgot to tell anyone about- Waxwings are such dirt birds nowadays :-)

Wednesday 23 March 2011


Our new book and cd is ready!!! It is bloody brilliant!

Get a copy from our website:

It's a twisted tale about getting to a better place.

Sunday 20 March 2011

Early spring at Beddington

I had a Yellow Wagtail from the obs this morning and a few Chiffchaffs were singing too so spring migration continues to unfold. In addition to large numbers of gulls being on the move there were also Cormorants migrating today with 12+ birds going over. One or two visited the lake and by the looks of it at least this one (below) was a Continental Cormorant (P.c. sinensis). The gular patch angle looks to be about 75 degrees and the base of the patch appears to fall behind the eye. However I don't have much experience with identifying these birds. There is still talk of North Atlantic and Continental Cormorants being split into different species so worth getting to grips with them- should have tried years ago but just couldn't muster up the enthusiasm until now.

Lapwings are taking up territories (about three pairs on 100 acre) and Tree Sparrows are in the new boxes. More songsters are firing up including this male Dunnock (below) on Mile Road Bridge.

Saturday 19 March 2011

The Beddington Moon

The moon is big and bright tonight.

Early Spring at Beddington

Beautiful weather today at the farm. A few bits about including the first summer Iceland Gull (pic 1), adult Mediterranean Gull (pic 2) Redshank (pic 3), Water Pipit, Common Buzzard and Peregrine. There were also three singing Chiffchaffs (pic 4) and I missed a White Wagtail. Waterfowl numbers are declining this time of year with 30+ Teal, 10 Shoveler, 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Snipe but still 30+ Tufted Duck, 5 Pochard and 2 Little Grebe. 4 Shelduck are ignoring the boxes we put out last spring.

Thursday 17 March 2011


This is certainly a mountain to climb. In theory the mission sounds simple.
'Transform Hackbridge into the UK's first sustainable village for future living'
Such a village is characterised by self sufficiency, local business, strong local community, zero waste, zero carbon, energy efffeciency, participation democracy and high biodiversity- (in our case closely allied with the emerging Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve).
Well so far in nearly eighteen months of constant struggle, countless meetings, singing, writing poems, designing logos and slogans, watching movies about transition towns, permaculture and peak oil and listening to sermons by Al Gore we have got as far as putting in a few trees, a couple of shrubs and about 200 daffs. Well its a start.
It seems there is a counter force in this village which is promoting dependency, big business, a weak local communtiy, high waste, high pollution, elitism and environmental destruction.
It's the whole world in a nutshell and this is proving to be a rather hard nut to crack :-)

Wednesday 16 March 2011

Natural World at Beddington

Gaby and Simon from Passion Pictures were back at the farm today filming the gulls for the BBC Natural World series about London Wildlife. One aspect they were looking at is the relationship between wildlife and London's waste.

Thursday 10 March 2011


White-rumped Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper and Least Sandpiper on the Azores, 2005When I was recently on the Azores I was reminded about certain things that led me to writing 'The Pioneers' for Birdwatch Magazine

About ten years ago when I first started going to the Azores I was surprised to see how many European migrants (and some American ones) regularly winter out on these Mid-Atlantic islands; (some recent observations here:)

It seemed 'illogical' to me that birds should travel all the way out there when they could quite easily stay local with plenty of available resources on the respective continents. However it then got me thinking that these birds were simply obeying in built (genetic) orders or instructions. However it was a dangerous journey to make if there was no need to travel that far so why should such behaviour occur in nature? It then reminded me about how 'wasteful and indifferent' nature can appear to be and got me thinking that there was more to out of range birds (or vagrants) than i had first appreciated. A thought occurred to me:

"Vagrants are explorers. They go beyond the limits of their normal range. They are like seeds that disperse, seeking new niches to fill, new opportunities and new territories. Like seeds, many fail to germinate and so they perish. However, a few persevere and the effects of this can have significant consequences. These survivors may prove to be trailblazers. Harbingers of colonisation, vagrants pioneer the development of a new migration arm. It is these wanderers that establish new wintering grounds and create a new staging post.

Common Nighthawk, Azores, October 2007

The story of avian vagrancy involves amazing journeys of discovery. Lost, deranged, brave or purposeful, vagrants come in all forms, shapes and sizes. Some have been caught up in storms, others are mad; some are adventurous, still more are physically sick, and others are intrepid colonists. However, they all have one thing in common: they are explorers, pushing the boundary of the species’ range, looking for new niches. As conditions change in the environment, vagrants are there, on the front line. They are the driving force behind the evolution of migration systems and the change in a species’ distribution ".

So I wrote this article which was published in Birdwatch in 2008 :

Hudsonian Godwit, The Azores, July 2007.

Saturday 5 March 2011

A couple of local birds

Been quiet on the Beddington front recently. I had a Red Kite on 27th Feb (pic 2) and we had three Blackwits go over this morning (pic 1). Apart from that still looking for the Slaty-backed and waiting for spring.

Thursday 3 March 2011

The Azores Sandwich Tern...and the final answer is..

Olof Jonsson managed to read the ring on the Sandwich Tern on the Azores. The ring number was PL 0129 and the bird was ringed at Gdańsk Świbno, Ujście Wisły, Poland on July 1st 2009 confirming the field identification conclusions.

Original post on this

The bird was ringed as part of this Polish Ringing Project: