Wednesday 26 February 2014

Early Spring

 Daffs in the Obs wildlife garden
 Dog Violets and Speedwell around the obs

 Common Quakers- got a new actinic bulb and caught more moths last night- three Common Quakers and an Agonopterix Alstromeriana.  
 Hazel- winter catkins coincidiing with the spring flowers
 Hopefully last of the winter storms have passed- a very old Beech up rooted in Banstead Woods
Nephew Sid in the Woods 

Looks like it's going to be an early spring. A few observations in the local Hackbridge/Beddington Farmlands area recently including:
Plants/shrubs in flower (roughly chronologically): Snowdrops, Crocus, Daffodil, Dog Violet, Speedwell, Forsythia, Cherry Plum, Ornamental cherry variety also wild plants flowering include Groundsel, Red-dead Nettle, Daisy and lots of Charlock on the farmlands mounds. 
Trees in leaf: Hawthorn, Elder

Went to a reception in town yesterday with the World Land Trust. Met John Burton (CEO of World Land Trust) and Renton Righelato who were old Beddington boys from the 1950's. John went to school with Peter Grant and they did the farm together in the days when there were 5000+ Snipe in the flooded fields (which became flooded again recently due to the record breaking winter rainfall- its the first time the old irrigation pipes and dykes have been flowing with water since the 1960's) . 

Sunday 23 February 2014

Staines Moor visit

 Little Egret- one of five present
 Water Pipit- two or three of these  Nice piece on how to identify Water Pipits in flight by Lee
 River Colne
Lee birding in waders
Met up with Lee and Wendy & Sue from Lake Farm to have a look round the moor. We dipped the Short-eared Owl and also failed to locate a woodcock at night by beam but did get the Bittern as it flew into roost.
 Wendy's account of the day

Saturday 22 February 2014

Looking back

 My notebook from 1987 (15 years old). Had my first Goosander- I remember the excitement. 
 The Northern Lake today- a field in 1987

More or less followed a route today that I did on more or less the same day in 1987. Here's a few interesting comparisons of bird numbers seen of birds noted in 1987:

Species                  1987                 2014
Snipe                      6                       5
Jack Snipe              0                       1
Fieldfare                 70                     20
Redwing                 60                     4
Brambling               24                    0
Grey Heron            5                      10
Teal                        60                    100
Tufted Duck            5                      104
Green Sandpiper     4                      2
Lapwing                  80                    26
Redshank                1                       0
Corn Bunting          2                       0  
Tree Sparrow         200+                 0 

Here's a few counts of today of species which were not present in 1987:

Species                  1987                   2014
Mute Swan            0                          11
Shelduck                0                          3
Gadwall                 0                          60
Shoveler                0                          25
Pochard                 0                         10
Little Grebe            0                         4
Grt Crest Grebe     0                         2
Water Rail             0                         2
Mixed Gulls           200+                  6000+
Jackdaw                0                         2000+

In many ways a quick snap shot like that reveals the main trends in bird populations over the last few decades; a decline in farmland species due to intensive agriculture and an increase in birds associated with gravel pits and waste so basically the underlying cause is a more intense anthropomorphicization (is that a word?) of the environment. Where is it all heading?? Hopefully to an advanced modern urban nature reserve.

Finally got an early spring moth last night. 

Hebrew Character- the first early spring moth I've had- named because of the black marks that look like a Hebrew letter

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Bobbing on the Flood

Great Crested Grebe
Water levels are still very high. Good numbers of Pochard and Tufted Duck still in the deeper and larger expanse of water- also two Great Crested Grebes have been attracted- not particularly common at the farmlands.
Spring is unfolding slowly- crocus and snow drops have been out for two to three weeks locally, the first daffodils are flowering around the obs, the first Cherry Plum flowers were out today and a few bumblebees were out at the weekend (presumably Early Bumblebees). I tried the moth trap last night but nothing.

Monday 17 February 2014

Mammal tick

This House Mouse has decided to be my flat mate. I've ordered some humane small mammal traps from NHBS to see if I can catch it- wanted to see what small mammals were on the farmlands so a good excuse to get the traps.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Good weather for ducks

 Pochard- over 60 of these in January- the second highest number on record
 Tufted Duck- Over 140 of these in January- the second highest record count 
 Shovelers- looks like numbers of dabbling duck reduced as the lake depth increased
 Teal- A maximum of 275 in January- fewer birds are on the deep lakes with birds concentrating on the beds
There were still 15 Mute Swans in January following the best year for them on record from last year

Just been working on the January records for the 2014 Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report and interesting to see the affects that this wet and mild weather is having on the birds. Up to 7 Jack Snipe, 30+ Snipe, a wintering Redshank and up to 4 wintering Stonechat indicates some reasonable wetland available (and recovery of Stonechats following a series of cold winters) and the large numbers of diving ducks is a reflection of the greater volume and depth of water. Dabbling ducks seemed to have declined since December- maybe the water is too deep.
Also interestingly for the first time Great Black-backed Gulls outnumbered Lesser Black-backed Gulls on site- a reflection of a very significant decline of Lesser Black Backs at the site (e.g. up to 2000 wintering in 2003 and only 20 in January 2014).
Only one or two Tree Sparrows in January (surely on the way to local extinction) and also low numbers of other seed eating birds- maybe too wet or due to lack of available ruderal habitat including arable weeds that provides seeds (coarse grasses appear to be dominating the restoration mounds- probably need to be ploughed to re-activate the pioneering arable seed-rich weeds?). Who knows and with the restoration management as it is at the moment not much point in even trying to solve conservation problems- as Viridor don't act on much of the advice given anyway. 

Monday 10 February 2014

Judicial Review

Things are progressing with the judicial review surrounding the Beddington Farmlands incinerator.
Here's a few interesting links related to the judicial review process.

And here's a link that reminds me of the relationship between corporations vs local community groups :

Sunday 9 February 2014


The Bird hide


The lakes have flooded at the farmlands and are invading the local village. 

Common Gulls

Just a reminder to myself to read all this stuff (below) as soon as I get a chance. Always seeing interesting variation of Common Gulls at the farmlands (like this bird above) and would be good to make some sense of it.

Saturday 8 February 2014


This Kittiwake did a fly-by this morning.

Stonechats and White-winger

 Female Stonechat
 Male Stonechat
 What's going on with that bill- soiled or aberrant?
Theres a dark spot of p7 and some markings on the primary coverts
Nice bit of light yesterday evening so went looking for the adult Glauc- seemed to have some strange marks, maybe soiling? Looks a bit thin necked and small headed too. More pics here: 

Thursday 6 February 2014

Beryl and Liz- Thee Bryans

Here's another track from the musical story 'Songs of Praise' by thee Bryans. Its a story of the adventures of a young naturalist in the modern world. In this part of the story, the young naturalist, Bryan, sets up his own wildlife gardening company and hopes he can make the world a better place by creating biodiveristy gardens in his neighbourhood- thinking globally by acting locally. However instead of changing the world he gets caught by two lesbians who trap him when he goes round to do a wildlife garden quote and they keep him locked up in the cellar. After years of not returning home to his family they believe he has gone forever and forget about him. However all is not lost because over time one of the lesbians falls in love with him and then together they kill the other lesbian, Bryan has a sex change pretends he is the dead lesbian and lives out his days as a woman called Liz- nobody is any the wiser.

Luckily for Bryan it turns out to be just a strange day dream and then he gets on with planting up his butterfly and bee border.

More of this stuff here:

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Beddington Farmlands in BBC Natural World Documentary

The 'Un-natural History of London' is now on you tube to view. 30 min documentary about the urban wildlife and people of London. It's actually well put together, decent bit of music too (in the original), some good angles and some pretty original stuff. The documentary features Beddington Farmlands, I did a bit for it and it also features other London birders and some interesting London naturalists and Londoners (and  a bit of wildlife). 

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Even the mafia won't allow money to be made out of mass bulk incinerators?

Check this out! If the Italians won't have it than there must be something well dodgy with incineration? If the mafia thought incinerators were a good way of making money they would have shot this bloke dead long time ago? It's in english- just a few seconds in Italian at beginning.

I really don't know anything about this side of the campaign as my area is the effect of the incinerator on the biodiversity. However why have the Italians stopped 50 of these things from being built?? Got to be something wrong with them?