Sunday 29 September 2013

East winds

 Male Redstart on the Obs Garden fence from yesterday
 Male Pintail (Eclipse or Juv?)
 Juvenile Ruff
 Wigeon and a Teal
These east winds are producing a bit of local interest. Today a juvenile Ruff, 3 Ringed Plover, a Wheatear, 9 Wigeon, the male Pintail, 1 Arctic Tern, 3 Green Sandpiper, 6 Snipe and 150+ Teal, 10 Gadwall, 40+ Shoveler, 20 Swallow and a few Mips.

Bunking Off

Just seen this weather forecast map for Tuesday. Frontal conditions over the east and south east with a moderate south east wind with a draw from the extreme east with an easterly air flow channel centred mid-continent.
If you're one of my costumers please call next week (when I'm on the Azores and no reception at all there)

Saturday 28 September 2013

Redstart in the Obs Garden

In many ways it might be grim round here but in others it is brilliant. Watching this male Redstart from the window now.

Reality check?

Certainly a few interesting revelations recently regarding how the world works round here.

After closely following the process surrounding the incinerator I have come to a conclusion: we are pretty much at the centre of a black hole here. This area receives all the human sewage, household and industrial waste for the whole of South London, has some of the lowest property values  in the region and excels in social problems. The region is experiencing a well monitored ecological and social decline. Its pretty grim.

Planning law does not always apply here. Government objectives for this area are partly delivered via a hidden agenda which is implemented by non-enforcement. Social and environmental obligations attached to planning permissions are often not enforced by any layer of government and those planning conditions are often merely cosmetic in order to justify the granting of permission for further decline.

Ironically one of the greatest agents of decline are  the social and environmental groups that operate in this area. Through an endless stream of consultations, feasibility studies, masterplans and community workshops they attempt to cover up the declining state by re-branding it with terms such as nature reserve and sustainable village. Millions of pounds from funding streams are wasted in talking shops, unimplemented management plans, pretentious events and conferences which provides entertainment, growth and sustainability for the charities and governmental departments while outside the conditions for nature and people spiral into further decline.

So basically it like the whole world in miniature but probably even worse. But nonetheless it's still one of the best areas for wildlife in South London and will continue to provide a refugia for whatever can hang in there as the decline continues. So the focus is on helping out with hanging on to what we can because this thing is  so big- that nothing can stop it at the moment.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

LWC- Marsh Harrier

Went to the London Wetland Center this morning to have a look at some tree work and while I was there popped into the Peacock Tower. This juvenile Marsh Harrier was flying around.
Also a Garganey, Yellow-legged Gull and 20+ Wigeon.

Autumn Moths

I was joined by these chaps for breakfast this morning.
Still getting over the loss of my pinned fly collection that my obs-keepers three year old daughter ate last week.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Cranes, Pain and Caspian Gull- The Week that Was

 Adult Caspian Gull
 Chiffchaff- about 30+ about
 Lapwings- small groups on 100 acre, Southern Lake and South-east Corner
 Pink-barred Sallow
Evening Primroses- loads of these come up in Biker's Field
My sister called me on Thursday saying that one of her challenging students had struck her on the head and she wasn't feeling well so I went to her work to pick her up and then continued on my journey to Ikea (to get my other sister some coat hooks). With that Roger called to say he had two Common Cranes circling the farmlands and were heading east. The unfortunate incident at my sisters work and the coat hook chore had meant that at the precise moment I was heading down Beddington Lane so pulled into the Asda Car Park and with that the two Cranes circled over. Thank you challenging student!
Rest of the week I have been catching up with work and sneaking over the patch for some high season birding- quite a few bits on the move, today 150+ Swallow, 45 Mipits, 1 Whinchat yesterday, Caspian Gull in the week and a Grasshopper Warbler on the mound today.
Few autumn moths in the evening including Black Rustics, lots of Pale Mottled Willows and a Pink-barred Sallow by the hide yesterday.

Friday 13 September 2013

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Summary

White-tailed Tropicbird

Another good trip out to sea. On the last day several members of the group twitched the White-tailed Tropic bird at Sao Miguel- presumably the same bird that has been on the archipelago since 2011 (photo above).

This year's crew were Ernie Davies, Chris Townend, Daniel Mauras, Thomas Lang, Jurgen Blessing, Peter and Gudrun Berndt, Stefan Pfutzke, Harro Muller, Darryl and Greg Spittle, Philip Hansbro, Gerby, Deborah Berthelot ,Vincent Legrand and myself.

Seabird species recorded (#):
Fea's Petrel (1), Bulwer's Petrel (3), Cory's Shearwater (1000s), Great Shearwater (100+), Sooty Shearwater (20+), Manx Shearwater (4), Wilson's Storm Petrel (1), Swinhoe's Petrel (1), Monteiro's Petrel (10+), 'Grant's' Petrel (1-2), White-tailed Tropicbird (1), Brown Booby (1), Pomarine Skua (1), Arctic Skus (5), Long-tailed Skua (3), Roseate Tern (20+), Common Tern (100s), Sooty Tern (2), Azores Gull (100s)

Other marine wildlife:
Sperm Whale (10+), Spotted Dolphin (50+), Common Dolphin (100+), Bottlenose Dolphin (30+), Risso's Dolphin (2), Beaked Whale sp (2), Loggerhead Turtle (7+), Blue Shark (3)

Going out again next year (probably August) so if your interested in joining let me know (

Azores Pelagics Facebook album

Azores Nature

Santa Maria Whale Shark hunt- (Days eight to ten)

 Bottlenose Dolphins
 Sooty Shearwater
 Sperm Whale breaching
Goldcrest- an endemic island form on Santa Maria
Well that was a rather pleasant disaster. No Whale Sharks despite hours and hours of searching over three days. Didn't help that the tuna fishing fleet were having a tuna festival instead of out fishing and reporting whale shark sightings. Also seems like there was an early influx of Whale Sharks this year in August so it's possible the migration occurred early this year.
Dipping highlights included breaching Sperm Whales, pods of Common and Spotted Dolphin, Bulwer's Petrel, a Grant's Petrel at dusk, Sooty, Great and Cory's Shearwaters, Loggerhead Turtle and good company while searching the quiet seas.

Pelagic vids

Saturday 7 September 2013

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Day six and seven

 Cory's Shearwaters off Graciosa

Transfering to Santa Maria for the second leg of the pelagic trip over the last couple of days. Stopped off at Sao Miguel and caught up with the Asian Oystercatcher.
Arrived at Santa Maria to find out there was a White-tailed Tropicbird back at Sao Miguel so perhaps there may be some changes of plan.

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Day Five

The wind and sea got up today preventing us from getting out to the Bank of Fortune so we stayed around the island. Highlight of the day was two Sooty Tern around Praia Islet.

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Day Four

Immature Brown Booby 
 Arctic Skua, Brown Booby and Cory's Shearwater
 Long-tailed Skua
 Spotted Dolphins
 Band-rumped Petrel - a non-moulting bird this time of year could be either a late moulting Monteiro's, a juvenile Monterio's or an adult Grant's Storm Petrel.
Blue Shark
Another good day at sea. 1 Brown Booby (the third record for the Azores), 2 Arctic Skua, 3 Long-tailed Skua, 5+ Monteiro's/Band-rumped Petrel, 20+ Sooty Shearwater, 30+ Great Shearwater and several pods of Common, Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphin.

Friday 6 September 2013

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Day Three

 Swinhoe's Petrel
 Fea's Petrel
 Fea's Petrel
Bulwer's Petrel
A good day on the bank of fortune today with 1 Swinhoe's Petrel, 1 Fea's Petrel, 10+ Monteiro's/Band-rumped Petrel, 1 Bulwer's Petrel, 10+ Sooty Shearwater, 50+ Great Shearwater, Cory's Shearwaters, 1 Pomarine Skua, 2 Beaked Whale sp, Common, Spotted and Bottlenose Dolphin, Blue Shark, Oceanic White-tip Shark, Loggerhead Turtle and Risso's Dolphin. Also Azorean Noctule bat flying round the island at dusk.

Day Two

 Semi-palmated Sandpiper
 Hudsonian Whimbrel
Praia da Vitoria wetlands project team

Spent the morning on Terceira before catching the ferry to Graciosa.

A few more birds in the quarry including Short-billed Dowitcher, Hudsonian Whimbrel, 4 Semi-palmated Sandpiper, 1 Semi-palmated Plover, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 40+ Kentish Plover, 90 Sanderling, 2 Snipe, 6 Grey Plover, 4 Eurasian Whimbrel and 1 Common Sandpiper.
The Garganey and Spotted Sandpiper were still on Paul da Praia.

Met up with Sofia and the Praia da Vitoria Conservation and Restoration Wetlands Project who are working on a five year plan to improve the quality of the the wetlands here. Will be interesting to see changes in management in improving the conditions for the endemic fauna and flora and for habitat for migrant birds and vagrants.

The ferry crossing was fairly quiet with a few Common and Spotted Dolphins and 2 Sperm Whale.

Monday 2 September 2013

Azores Nature Pelagic 2013 Day One

Spent today on Terceira before we start our first pelagic tomorrow. Here's a few shots of terns in Praia da Vitoria harbour. Can you the identify the species?
Quite  a few birds around including summer plumaged Spotted Sand, four Semi-palmated Sandpiper, 1 Semi-palmated Plover, 1 juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, 1 Garganey and good numbers of commoner waders in the quarry.