Thursday 28 February 2013

In Search of Monteiro's Petrel

The documentary 'In Search of Monteiro's Petrel which featured our 2011 birding team was broadcast on Sunday in Portugal and attracted 700,000 viewers. We're going out again this year (see here):

Saturday 23 February 2013

Beddington Farmlands Gulling Highlights

The end of an era on the Horizon
The decision regarding the development of an incinerator at Beddington Farmlands will be made in the next few weeks and looks pretty much a done deal. This means the end of the Gull era at Beddington is on the horizon- possibly within five years. That means we've got five years to find an American Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Armenian Gull, Great Black-headed Gull etc etc.

With the end in sight it's also an opportunity to reflect on what has been found since tipping commenced (in 1998). Top prize goes to the Glaucous-winged Gull in April 2007 (a first for Britain which had been seen earlier in the west country) and second prize might be another Glaucous-winged Gull- a first-summer bird seen in April 2009 which is still under consideration by the BBRC.  Other highlights have included two 'Kumlien's Gulls', three juvenile Sabine's Gulls (together) and a bag full of Caspian Gulls, Iceland Gulls (33 records), Glaucous Gulls (21 records), Yellow-legged Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, Little Gulls, Kittiwakes and plenty of headaches, hybrids and unknowns.

Here's a few personal highlights:

Second-winter Iceland Gull, one of thirteen Iceland Gulls recorded in the winter of 2011/2012 
First-winter Caspian Gull- a Beddington speciality  
First-winter Kumlien's Gull, present from November 2011 into 2012 
Putative Glaucous-winged Gull/ Pacific hybrid (210409)- still in circulation with the BBRC 
Putative Baltic Gull (191211)- can these be 'done' without a ring to confirm? 
Adult Mediterranean Gull- a regular winter visitor and post breeding migrant 
First-winter Glaucous Gull- a near annual winter visitor 
Iceland Gull with Herring and Black-headed Gulls 
Adult Yellow-legged Gull (top- with adult Herring Gull) 
Adult Caspian Gull (off centre bird) 
Juvenile Sabine's Gull, October 2007

and here's the big one that got away -(apart from for two fortunate observers, Garry and Johnny) :

Third-summer Glaucous-winged Gull 180407 (Garry Messenbird)

Friday 22 February 2013

BBC Natural World- Unnatural History of London

This portrait of Londoners and London wildlife is currently being re-run on BBC4 and is available to view on i-player on the link below. Featuring amongst other things Beddington Farmlands and me doing a bit on the Beddington gulls:

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Planning Day

Planning team in front of the new build 'The Wave' along the Hackbridge Road which has been identified as one of the green corridors linking Beddington Farmlands to the River Wandle

Spent the day with CABE (Design Council) and the Neighbourhood Development Group to finalise the draft plan for Hackbridge and it's integration in to the Wandle Valley Regional Park (which includes Beddington Farmlands- see map above of extent of regional park).
I must add planning is quite a maddening process.

Sunday 17 February 2013


Teal- a lot of the wildfowl are pairing up
Cherry Plum flowers
Colt's Foot
Willow - a good source of early nectar
Recent restoration- the distant mound is presently bare clay so interesting to monitor the succession in the coming months and also trial areas of acid grassland will be carried out

Pretty quiet out there but plenty of signs of spring. Good duck numbers 23 Pochard, 80 Tufted Duck, 62 Gadwall, 30 Shoveler, 70 Teal and the first spring Buzzard flew over too. A couple of Bullfinch along the edge, 12 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 50+ Fieldfare on 100 acre and a Redpoll in with the Linnets feeding on Mugwort.
Picked up a few Beetles with Frankie that I need to try and get an id on. Also got a moss that I'm gonna have a go at. Ordered my pins for some diptera action which should be starting soon too.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Early Signs

March Moth
A few signs of spring are appearing including the first March Moth. Early bulbs are coming out, Hawthorns are putting on new leaves and the ants have appeared under the survey matts again.
A couple of Mediterranean Gulls today with fairly advanced hoods.
Had a first-winter Caspian in the week.

The Week that Was

Been a busy week with work and meetings. Last Friday went to a lecture by Mark Avery about Farmland Birds (might be some relevance to land management at Beddington in the future). Bit more on this here:

At work we are currently working on a regeneration project on the River Wandle, thinning out scrub to provide more a diverse habitat along a stretch of the Wandle between Carshalton and Hackbridge.

On Wednesday had a meeting at the council offices to finalise some of the details of the Hackbridge neighbourhood plan in the context of the Wandle Valley Regional Park. Basically the plan is to link Beddington Farmlands to Hackbridge via green/biodiversity corridors, to manage green spaces in Hackbridge for biodiversity, to promote wildlife gardening and develop a visitors/interpretation/education centre in Hackbridge for the Regional Park and Beddington Farmlands.

Thursday did a presentation at Bioregional about the plans for the Regional Park in Hackbridge which they are supporters and partners in . More on Bioregional here:

And on Friday it was at the Viridor offices for the Conservation Science Group Meeting for the latest development on the ERF- the secondary consultation starts on Wednesday which is basically our last chance to comment on the effect it will have on wildlife, the future of Beddington Farmlands and the future of the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

Monday 11 February 2013

Azores Bird Sightings Blog

Ring-billed Gull, Terceira, Azores (Up to 18 present in January with numbers normally rising in February)

Monthly updates and highlights on the ABS blog planned for 2013:

Saturday 9 February 2013


Wildlife garden on Bedzed 
Putting in a wildflower meadow  
Yellow Rattle at Beddington Farmlands 
Meadow management at Beddington  
Bedzed garden 
Bulb Planting on the Green, Hackbridge

Getting tired of winter now and wishing for Spring. Looking forward to pushing the wildlife gardening forward this year at work and also strengthening the green corridors between the farmlands and the Wandle.
Also planning on putting in wildflower meadow strips along the verges in Hackbridge and near the hide at the farmlands in our meadow experiment area. 

Wednesday 6 February 2013

New Banner

Been working with Lisa on a couple of ideas for banners for Thee Bryans.

Sunday 3 February 2013

The distant drums of Spring

Great Spotted Woodpecker- 1-2 males drumming along Mitcham Common side 
Common Shelducks pairing up 
Linnets in mid winter flocks feeding on the ruderal habitat
The Great spots were drumming this morning and quite a few birds were singing. Apart from that it was pretty much typically wintery- 80+ Gadwall, 40+ Shoveler, 100+ Teal, 50+ Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 70+ Lapwing, 5 Snipe, 50+ Grey Heron, 70+ Linnet, 30+ Chaffinch, 3 Mipit, 8 Reed Bunts, 30+ Fieldfare and 10 Redwing. 

Saturday 2 February 2013

A dip into Diptera

Above: Flies!  

Fly id

Had an Introduction to Diptera Identification Course at the Natural History Museum today- really enjoyed it. Good bunch of people and a good bunch of flies.
This year I'm hoping to work on adding some diptera info to our Beddington Farmlands Bioblitz. Building up a detailed model of the biodiversity on site will help in planning the restoration, monitoring the effect of the conservation measures through a wide range of indicator species and also provide endless interest and stuff to discover.
Collecting and preparing the fly specimens and getting them into a family is the most I could hope to achieve (and then get someone who knows what their talking about to id the species). I might try and familarise myself with one or two families to species level.  
Didn't know what to expect at a fly identification course- as Lee kindly pointed out- I was the biggest freak there.