Friday 30 August 2013

Azores Pelagic 2013 ahoy!

 Common Dolphins (Gareth Knass) 
 Zino's Petrel (Harro Muller)
 Swinhoe's Petrel
 Grant's Petrel
 Monteiro's Petrel
 Flying Fish
 Barolo's Shearwater
Sperm Whale 
 Loggerhead Turtle
 Wilson's Petrel
Black-capped Petrel (Killian Mullarney) 

Just getting packed for this year's Azores Nature Pelagic. We've got a full boat going out looking for local specialities from Garciosa and then an extension to Santa Maria looking for Whale Sharks.
Here's  a few pics from previous pelagic trips above. 
A Belgium led crew has just returned from the Bank of Fortune Area (which is where we are heading)  with highlights including a Swinhoe's Petrel and Sooty Tern. 

More on our trips to the Azores for serious birders/naturalists here:

Wednesday 28 August 2013


 Little Grebe family- one of three pairs with young on site at moment
 Chiffchaff- several calling birds scattered around the edges

 Hoveflies- I've bought the book now need to find the time to id them
Budgerigar- new addition to the escape list this year
Following the meeting with the lawyers yesterday and a full on few days of tours and exhibitions and meetings I couldn't take any more work today so bunked off and had a walkabout round the farmlands.
Still deciding what to do about the declining state of Beddington and the frightening realisation that despite all the protection, policies and legislation in place to protect it- the 'authorities' cannot enforce much of it.  On the legal front our only option is  to write to the Secretary of State encouraging refusal of the application and then if that doesn't work- call for a Judicial Review to highlight some of the perverse and irrational decisions that have been made in the process.
It is very time and energy consuming dealing with systemic problems and also very unrewarding, exhuasting and potentially completely futile.
Therefore following my walkabout this morning and seeing all the wildlife at Beddington getting on with things, raising young, migrating, busy feeding and basically hanging in there (just about) despite all the pressure they are under I thought I would take their lead, do the same thing and concentrate on injecting energy into building the support base for the nature reserve and the regional park and thinking of ways that we can contribute to the restoration and development of the nature reserve and do what we can to take the responsibility away from Viridor (who don't seem to want it) and basically do the whole bloody thing ourselves. I suppose it would have been a bit too simple if someone else made our own wishes for a premier nature reserve on our patch a reality.  
That Budgey reminded me of a song we recorded about the impossibility of just wanting a simple life:

Missed a Goshawk while at the Environmental Fair- occupational hazard!  :

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Environmental Fair and Campaign Update

Was at the environmental fair yesterday and lots of interest in our stall campaigning for the upholding of London Plan and LBS Planning Policies to create a premier urban nature reserve at Beddington Farmlands as part of the coreland for the Wandle Valley Regional Park. Visits to our stall from lots of passionate people and also including the CEO of the Royal Parks, the Mayor of Sutton and our local MP.

Very interesting talking to various people regarding several concerns. The main concerns were related to the local area being used as a sink to dump wider problems with a lack of protection from the local authority/government despite their own 'commitments' to local social/environmental improvement- so basically those policies are being used as a front to hide a different reality.

 Also along the same vein there are fundamental concerns over the implementation of policies regarding provision for nature and the needs of local people when there is a reliance on a corporation (Viridor in our case) to implement those policies. It seems apparent that our cash strapped local authority cannot enforce legal conditions attached to planning permissions when it comes to taking on expensive legal teams  of the large companies.

 It seems to all boil down to whoever has the most money gets to call the shots and in our case Viridor get to decide how they treat the local people and the wildlife- for better or worse. So due to the tyranny of litigation risk they more or less have absolute rule with a choice to act in a social/environmentally responsible way or in a way that trashes the local society/environment. far.... round here's its a money dictatorship and local democracy and commitment to social/environmental policy is just an illusion.

Soooooooooooooooooooo........... what can be done about that?
Meeting with lawyers later today to see what the remaining options are. Options are slowly converging on martyrdom :-)

Sunday 25 August 2013

August Bird and Wildlife Walk

 View over the Northern Lake with Hackbridge and Bedzed eco-village in background
 Juvenile Garganey
 Green Sandpipers, Lapwing and Teal on 100 acre
 Hawker (going out will id it later)
Purple Loose-strife on the Southern Lake
Sam Woods is back in town at the moment so we led a public bird walk which was attended by 19 people. The group saw some Green Sandpipers and had a good look round the site.
Birding was good today with Marsh Harrier, Garganey, 10 Ringed Plover, 1 Dunlin, 3 Ruff, 12 Green Sand, 2 Common Sand, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Whinchat and a Nuthatch behind Jims.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Autumn Flight and Fall

 Easterly winds over North Sea and frontal conditions over eastern UK - classic flight and fall conditions. Local wind conditions at Beddington were north-westerly, a reminder that local wind conditions can be mis-leading
 Ringed Plovers and Dunlin
Common Terns
A big day at the farmlands with some good sky-watching and grounded waders. 1 Turnstone, 2 Oystercatcher, 5 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, 12 Snipe, 34 Common Tern over, 38 Shoveler and 1 Little Egret.

Friday 23 August 2013

Beddington Farmlands Natural Disaster ?

Beddington Farmlands is part of the London Plan (Policy 7.17) and the Core Planning Strategy PMP9 to be developed into a nature reserve and core area for the Wandle Valley Regional Park for Greater London. For more on the plans click here: The future of Beddington Farmlands

In light of the recent decision by the GLA and London Borough of Sutton to allow Viridor to build an incinerator on site here are a few statistics on the progress of the Conservation Management Scheme which is in place to implement the regional park and nature reserve policies. 

Tree Sparrow Population

Crashed from 1000 in 2007 to 60 this year

Conservation Management Scheme Breeding Target Species
Little Ringed Plover- 0 pairs in 2013
Ringed Plover- 0 pairs in 2013
Redshank- 0 pairs in 2013 (extinct as a breeding bird since 2005)
Common Tern - 0 pairs in 2013
Yellow Wagtail- 0 pairs in 2013 (extinct as a breeding bird since 1995)
Lapwing- Down from 22 pairs in 2005 to 12 pairs in 2013
Sedge Warbler- Down from 25 pairs in 2000 to 2 pairs in 2013
Reed Bunting- Down from 23 pairs in 1995 to 1-2 pairs in 2013
Whitethroat and Reed Warbler- Relatively stable

Conservation Management Scheme Wintering Target Species
Teal- Down from 830 in 1995/1996 to 350 in 2012/2013
Shoveler- Down from 150 in 1995/96 to 100 in 2012/2013
Lapwing- Down from 165 in 1995/96 to 35 in 2012/2013
Snipe- Down from 35 in 1995/1996 to 20 in 2012/2013
Water Pipit- Down from 10 in 2000/2001 to 3 in 2010/2011
Green Sandpiper- stable

Conservation Management Scheme Restoration Progress
Acid Grassland- Originally due for development from 2003 onwards. No progress to date.
Wet Grassland- Due for completion in 2011. Minimal progress to date.
Neutral Grassland- Due for completion in 2008. Some progress.
Southern and Northern Lakes- Completed but not to specification with in-correct water height and no on-going maintenance
Public Access- Originally the nature reserve and regional park was to be completed and open to the public in 2015. 

Following species also in decline on site since the current conservation management plan has been in place: Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Greenshank, Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, Whinchat  and House Martin

Scroll down for more on the Incinerator and state of Nature at Beddington Farmlands.

More from Inside Croydon:

Thursday 22 August 2013

Chocolate Tip- a first for Beddington

Caught this in the trap last night.

Wednesday 21 August 2013


ITV news

BBC News

Inside Croydon

Divine intervention now required.

The Beddington Incinerator Decision Due Today

 Lapwing- Declining on site- threatened by the Beddington Incinerator due to loss of wet grassland habitat
 Tree Sparrow- down from 1000 individuals in 2007 to only 60 today. Local extinction event predicted and further threatened by the Beddington Incinerator. 
 Short-eared Owl- a former regular winter visitor. The return of this species will mark the success of the currently failing conservation plan

Bedzed Eco-village - part of the Hackbridge Plan to develop the most sustainable suburb in Greater London and develop a major gateway to the Wandle Valley Regional Park. Threatened by the Beddington Incinerator. 

 A nature reserve and heartland to the Wandle Valley Regional Park to connect people and nature in South London. Threatened by the Beddington Incinerator.
 Over 1500 species of bird and other wildlife have been officially recorded at Beddington Farmlands but the true biodiversity on site is far from its full potential
 An urban nature reserve fox
The Beddington Incinerator

All we can hope at this stage is that the Mayor comes to the rescue for the people and nature of this area.

In the Mayor’s own London Plan, Beddington Farmlands is set to become a nature reserve forming the heartland of the Wandle Valley Regional Park.  Importantly that heartland is planned to be in area which is surrounded by diverse multi-cultural communities whose quality of life can be enhanced through a re-connection to nature.  The farmlands is set to be developed into a mosaic of important nature habitats that will provide a vital educational resource for the people in the area. The park will also have space for walking, running, cycling and other outdoor activities for health and wellbeing for local citizens.  It will provide employment opportunities boosting the local economy . A similar intiative- the London Wetland Centre attracts 200,000 visitors a year and generates substantial revenues. Four times the size of the London Wetland Centre Beddington Farmlands will be the people’s nature reserve demonstrating the commitment to not only provide access to nature and green infrastructure investments for the wealthy people of Barnes and Richmond but also for the not so wealthy people of South London.

Local people were promised a nature reserve and  park by 2015. Not only has the park not been delivered but the ecosystems that were supposed to be protected have been degraded by the site operators Viridor and now  Viridor want to add insult to injury by adding the Beddington Incinerator into the mix.  Viridor, have a 15 year track record of breaching social and environmental legal obligations and Viridor have overseen the demise of the important wildlife communities on site as well as denying widespread public access.  Even the most  iconic bird species on the site- the Tree Sparrow appears to be set to follow other rare species into local extinction as numbers have reduced from 1000 in 2007 to only 60 today.  

Viridor were provided with an opportunity in this application to mitigate for their past failings and the local authority were given a chance to call them to account. Viridor were also given an opportunity to adequately mitigate the negative effects of this proposal. However they submitted an application that was largely devoid of social and environmental responsibility. Our local authority didn’t stand up for local people - non-local free-lance planning officers were commissioned to draw up a biased planning report for the attention of local councillors which ensured approval before being sent to the Mayor for a final decision.

Therefore all we can hope is that the Mayor fulfils his own promises and that he sends out a clear message to local authorities to ensure that other companies cannot come into the less fortunate parts of London, manipulate local councillors, make all sorts of void promises to the people just so they can get planning permission, then later default on those promises and then run off with the profits generated by the degrading of people and nature of that area. If the Mayor does give permission it will prove that the people and nature of this part of London are being abused and manipulated and the Mayor is party to that.

The people that live round here and study wildlife on the site have endured these unfulfilled promises for too long. We were promised an end to it between 2015 and 2023 and we were promised a regional park and a nature reserve. We were not promised the Beddington Incinerator and we do not want it. 

 We want the Mayor to reject this application and protect the people and nature of South London. 

Tuesday 20 August 2013

Beyonce Bioblitz

 Beyonce Knowles
 Scarlet Macaw
Niece Peace
A weekend of festivals. On Saturday was at the Bird Fair, Sunday at Vfest and Monday Rocky Horror. Wanted to see how many species I could record at the Vfest while we were waiting for Beyonce but only managed a few Large Whites, Common Wasp and a few birds overhead. Managed to find more species on the revellers themselves. Not many moths attracted to the night stage lights- not even a 50 meter high Beyonce did the trick.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Morrocco Trip Report

 Andrew, Sue and Me
 Lee, me and Neil on the Tagines
Trip Report from our March Morrocco trip now on line at: