Monday 30 May 2011


Azores Bullfinch (Priolo) feeding on Pink Knotweed Persicaria capitata an introduction from Asia (thanks Gareth for identifying that)

Azores Chaffinch

Azores Goldcrest

Orchid sp. Gareth Knass kindly provided this info: Platantera micrantha. It doesnt have an english name but the logical one would be Small-flowered Butterfly Orchid as the latin micrantha means 'small-flowered'. The Portuguese name translates as 'Pennywort-to-kill' or 'Pennywort Bush' - presumably because it looks like a Wall Pennywort (Umbilicus sp.).

Spent today in the Laurissilva of Sao Miguel looking for the Azores endemic 'Azores Bullfinch or Priolo' amongst endemic laurel forest.

Friday 27 May 2011


Back out here tomorrow.

Tuesday 24 May 2011


Malta is in the news again. My mother is Maltese and I spent a lot of time there when i was young. Many of my uncles and cousins are (were) hunters (pic 1 is my Uncle Joey's collection) and indeed they are caught up in the current changes.

Of course I agree that the culture has an unsustainable element to it which needs to be addressed and there is a lot of progress being made. Here is the latest story on the matter with information how people can help.

One last thing. The biggest threat to European birds is the use of agricultural chemicals which literally causes the death of millions upon millions of birds over a long term (not the hundreds/ thousands that the Maltese shoot each year). Our own country (75% farmland which is intensively farmed with associated catastrophic decline in our birdlife) is a much much more sinister violator of environmental and bird crimes than Malta and I would personally like to see it all stop.

Malta is a religious country and so I had a bit of a religious up bringing. For some reason with this Malta situation I can't help but think about this Christain moto ' Remove the beam from your own eye before you try to the remove the speck from your brothers'.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Birds, Bears, Wolves and Mammals in Europe

Our recent trip to Bulgaria was in search of Birds, bears and mammals and we managed to see a Bear and a few mammals but missed Wolf- (Bulgaria still needs a reliable Wolf area).
However my comrade Jaffa who was despatched to another part of Europe was even more successful in his mission. Have a look here:

The European Safari theme is something we have been working on for a while. Here are some previous posts:

I'm back on the job next week looking for birds and marine life- this time on the Azores for a Marine Safari- there is going to 13 of us on a boat for a week! :

Saturday 21 May 2011


It is that time of year again. The noisy juvenile Starlings are on the borders of the farm and the predators are not too far away. Here's some gruesome video from a couple of years ago around this time of year:
and just to bring some balance here is a cute pic of a Starling that I did when I was 10.


We had eleven Crossbills (pic 2) go over today which is remarkable in terms of the number and early date. There were only 12 records of Crossbill up to 2007 (The Birds of Beddington Farmlands) and all were between June and October so todays is the first May record. 50% of records have been in June and July and are believed to represent post breeding dispersal birds. The previous highest number was four on July 14th 2001.

I also saw a Buzzard and Peregrine but missed a Red Kite. Common Blues (pic 2) and Large Whites are about now.
As the vegetation is growing up across the site some new Sedge Warblers are taking up territories- maybe late season birds (first summers?). Many of the warblers and songsters are busy nest building and feeding young and not so much music in the air.

Friday 20 May 2011

Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve and Hackbridge Eco-village

Things are pushing ahead with developments around here. The sustainable village proposal has been approved in principle and a Hackbridge Sustainable Village Planning body is being formed. The Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve steering group was inaugurated last month so basically it has been one meeting after another but things are moving forward. Luckily I studied Geology back in uni so I understand the spectrum of definition to the word 'moving'.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Hobby from the window

Keep seeing this Hobby in the evening hunting Swifts over the lake.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

The kids

Still five left.
Also Dunlin, Greenshank and 2 LRP about (Johnny had an Oystercatcher earlier too) . Hobby yesterday from the window again.

Monday 16 May 2011


Here's the trailer for our musical story book.

Summer Time is Here Already

The young Starling flocks are already forming (seems early). The Shelducks are as usual still turning their noses up to the 10 Shelduck boxes on site and the Mute Swans have got five little ones.

Sunday 15 May 2011


Popped back over to the patch yesterday (after a birding trip always feels like getting back into a car after a car crash) and managed to bump in the Spotted Flycatcher that Steve found in the morning.
Just had a Hobby from the window too. Good numbers of Swifts about- 100+.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Bears and Birds in Bulgaria- Trip Summary

208 bird species recorded (dead or alive/ seen or heard) in 8 days.
Speciality species included: Yelkouan Shearwater, Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmation and White Pelican, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Asian Imperial Eagle, Little Crake, Grey-headed, Black, Syrian, White-backed Woodpecker and Greater, Middle and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Thrush Nightingale, Isabelline Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Paddyfield Warbler, Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, Semi-Collared, Pied and Collared Flycatcher, Sombre Tit and Spotted Nutcracker.
12 mammal species recorded (dead or alive/seen or heard).
Specialities included: Brown Bear, Golden Jackal, Alpine Chamois and European Souslik, Stone Martin
8 reptiles/amphibian species recorded including Fire Salamander, Fire-bellied Toad, Viviparous Lizard and Balkan/Eastern Green Lizard
For the ultimate Bulgarian guiding for birds and mammals go to:

Friday 13 May 2011


The Crew: Darryl, Greg, Dimiter and Me

Squacco Heron

Black Tern

White-winged Black Tern

Tuesday 10 May 2011


White-winged Black Tern

Collared Pratincole

Pied Wheatear

Cattle Egret (local scarcity) and Squacco Herons migrating

Wood Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

Adult and juvenile Long-eared Owl

Purple Heron


Semi-Collared Flycatcher

White-backed Woodpecker

Black and Common Terns

Red-footed Falcon

White Pelicans

European Souslik

Heath Fritillary



Wall Lizard

White Wagtail

Yellow Dung Flies

Brown Bear (taken at dusk/night)

Roe Deer

Coal Tit

Lesser Spotted Eagle

Pallid Swift

Male Ferrugionous Duck courting

European Passenger Pigeons I mean Turtle Doves

Ring Ouzel

Blue-headed Wagtail


Doing a week in Bulgaria at the moment looking for spring birds and large mammals. Some photos here. More later.