Friday 31 July 2015

Complete Global Outrage # 2

Only one way to deal with it . No Sympathy (For the Devils) :-)


Hackbridge/Beddington Farmlands People and Nature Engagement Officer(s)

Hackbridge/Beddington Farmlands People and Nature Engagement Officer (s)
Freelance Positions £100-£120 day rate
Leading public bird and wildlife walks
Wildlife photography workshops
Wildlife Gardening Workshops
Wildlife Gardening Consultancy
Phase 1 Habitat surveys ahead of biodiversity improvements and follow up surveys monitoring progress
Developing identification sheets for the public for seasonal botany, entomology and birds at Beddington Farmlands
If interested please email: 

Thursday 30 July 2015

Complete Global Outrage

I have decided that I suffer from Complete Global Outrage.

Wednesday 29 July 2015


Cecil the Lion, got killed by a dentist who paid a bad ranger tens of thousands of pounds
and got damned by a world who engaged in mass slaughter by buying intensively farmed foods to save a few pounds

Louis Theroux writing something not so shit

A few bits today

 Small Ranunculus
 Toadflax Brocade
Juvenile gulls- Yellow-legged Gulls or Lesser Black Backs? Not always easy to separate.

My Vision for Nature # 2

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Sunday 26 July 2015

Juvenile gulls and a micro moth

 Juvenile Herring Gull; extensive pale inner primary window, broad tail band, notched tertials, barred greater coverts and general lack of contrast (confined to upper tail)
 Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull; indistinct inner primary window, dark based greater coverts, contrasting head, underparts and upper tail, darkish eye mask and in a separate view a tapering tail band
Monopsis crocicapitella (New one for farmlands if I've id it right)
Juvenile gulls and micro moths must be some people's idea of a nightmare. Here's a small tribute to that cause. 

Saturday 25 July 2015

July wildlife and a few Firsts

 Juvenile Blackcap- quite a few young warblers around today including Blackcaps (6+), Lesser Whitethroat (2+), Whitethroats (6+), Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler (10+) and 1 Sedge.
 Juvenile Whitethroat- young birds this time year are presumably mainly locally bred birds but some may also be on post breeding dispersal from a regional hinterland
 Adult Little Egrets
 One of eight Green Sandpipers on 100 acre. A couple of Common Tern today, also 2 Common Buzzard, 7 Kestrel, 2 Common Sandpiper and a few small finch flocks about; 15 Linnet and Goldfinch, 10 Greenfinch and 5+ Chaffinch.
 Dark Sword Grass- first for the year
Cochylis roseana- a first for the farmlands - the 527th moth species
Chrysotoxum cautumn- a couple on Bristly Ox-tongue along Bikers
 Scaeva pyrastri- new for the farmlands (if I've identified it right)
  Syrphus sp (left ) and Marmalade Fly (right)- easy to id Marmalade as only UK species with those thin cross bars in the yellow segments
  ? I've never seen one of these before- probably another new species for site.
 Phacelia- a new species for Beddington found by Nick Gardner

Friday 24 July 2015

Let the autumn games begin

 Two adult Black-tailed Godwits. Presumed islandica (Icelandic population) based on intensity of upper part colouration and aged on plumage and also moulting of inner primaries (adults moult following the breeding season). Birds head from Iceland to moulting areas such as the Thames Estuary and UK South Coast. As autumn/winter progresses many fly further south (as far as Iberia and N.Africa) before heading north often via Ireland completing a round trip. In reality many migrants don't have summer and wintering areas- often they are always moving.
 Black-tailed Godwits and juvenile gulls (towards left). Two fairly typical juvenile Herring Gulls but also a contrasting bird which could be a Lesser Black backed or a Yellow-legged Gull.  
 Presumed juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, contrasting bird with whitish head, dark around eye, shawl, pale primary window and distinctive tail band reducing in depth centrally-distally.
Another brood of Tufted Duck- been a very good season for Tufties. Over 50+ chicks on the lakes at the moment. Also Great Crested Grebe chick still going.
A north easterly airflow and some rain today produced the first noteable autumn arrival of migrants; 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, (also 15 Lapwing and 1 Green Sandpiper on the lakes), 1 juvenile Med Gull, 1-2 juv Yellow-legged Gull, 18 Swallow, 12 Sand Martin and 92 Swift.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Night life

 Agriphila sp (inquinatella?)
 Pebble Prominent
 Buff-tip, Pebble Prominent and in background Scalloped Oak and Dusky Sallow
 Buff Ermine
 Scalloped Oak 
 Early Thorn- new one for me
 Willow Beauty
 Sallow Kitten
 Epiblema foenella
 Agapeta hamana
 Acrobasis advenella

Been very good on the moth front this week. Last night had 148 moths of 57 species. Here's a few that allowed themselves to be photographed.

Saturday 18 July 2015

The Balkan Ecology Project- Wildlife Friendly Farming

The Balkan Ecology Project is a permaculture inspired approach to wildlife friendly farming. I spent the last week there having a look at the wildlife that is thriving on the project plots.
Currently there are two plots in production.
1) Plot 1- Paul's Garden Site Map and more here
Additionally the project has a further 34 plots for future development ( More here) warmly welcoming further participation in hands on courses, studies and involvement. See here for more on  Courses etc


Paul's Garden is modelled on the success and resilience of a temperate forest ( a forest garden) and consists of layers of edible trees, shrubs, herbs and ground cover with habitat features purposefully included. Gaps have been created between the canopies for more light demanding  cultivation such as annual vegetable and herb production. For purposes of my study I broke the garden up into several units: 

Unit 1;An annual polyculture bed, Unit 2;Conventional Organic, Unit 3; Beneficial Bed, Unit 4; Edible Horse Shoe Bed, Unit 5; Ponds and Unit 6; Other, including Farm animal pens, Trees, margins, paths and borders. 

I had a look at each unit in turn at some of the invertebrates and wildlife that were present. The aim was to provide a snap shot of the prominent species present and have a look at the some of the ecological relationships with the most prominent species. As I don't have extensive experience of the species in this part of Europe the identifications are provisional with obvious species grouped into main families. Help with specific identification is appreciated or any corrections to provisional identifications. Apart from light trapping all recording was by observation of visible species. Needless to say with additional sampling methodology over longer periods of time would generate a much richer picture.

Unit 1: Annual Polyculture Bed (More here on Polyculture Productivity)
Plant species in this production bed include Tomatoes, Summer and Winter Squash, Runner Beans, French Beans together with support species, marigolds, Nasturtium and Basil. (More here) And More here
Species found here were:

Grasshoppers and Crickets: 3 species
Longhorn Beetles: 2 species
Other Beetles: 2 species
Bees: 4 species

The most prominent species was the Violet Carpenter Bee Xylocapa violacea. This species is a common European species and one of the largest bees in Europe.  They are a solitary species that build their nests in wood (hence the name). The eggs are laid in a series of cells, each of which is provided with a pollen ball for the larvae to feed on. In the polyculture bed they were particularly attracted to the Runner Bean flowers but visited several species including Salvia and Lavender.

Violet Carpenter Bee

Unit 2: Conventional Organic
Plant species here included mixed crops e.g. Sweetcorn, brassicas etc with companion planting.More here
Species found here:

Butterflies: 3 species
True Flies: 4 species
Longhorn Beetles: 1 species
Shieldbugs: 2 species

The most prominent species when I visited was the Shiledbug  Eurydema ventralis. The species has two generations and is a well known pest of brassicas. When I arrived an infestation of this species had just started.

Eurydema ventralis  

We made the most of the situation by collecting excess numbers and then feeding them to the frogs

Unit 3: The Beneficial Bed
This was one of my favourite areas, literally buzzing with life. Plant species here included nectar rich plants for pollinators More here

Species seen here:

Bumblebees: 2 species
Other Bees: 2 species
Sawflies: 1 species
Solitary wasps/Ichneumons: 3 species
Hoverflies: 5 species
Other Flies: 5 species
Longhorn Beetles: 3 species
Other Beetles: 3 species
Clearwing Moths: 1 species
Damselflies: 1 species

Red-belted Clearwing. This species is found in well established orchards and gardens across Europe. Larvae feed under the bark of trees (can be a minor pest) of mainly Apple. It is a one generation species from mid-June to August. A stunning looking creature.
Eristalis sp (Hoverfly). Five species of hoverfly were found in the benefical bed and further four species in Plot 1 including Platycherius, Epistrophe, Episyrphus, Syrphus, Eristalis, Syritta and Myathropa. The larvae of some hoverflies eat aphids so provide a pest predator service.
 Horse fly sp. Another stunning looking little creature.
A solitary wasp.
Unit 4: The Edible Horseshoe Bed
This bed is made up of a three layer planting scheme, herbs, fruits and small trees. More here
Another really exciting area of the garden, mainly due to the flowering herb layer and of course a flowering Buddleia and Lavenders.

Species seen here:
Bumblebees: 1 species
Other Bees: 5 species
Sawflies: 1 species
Solitary Wasps: 2 species
Longhorn Beetle: 1 species
Other Beetles: 1 species
Hoverflies: 3 species
Bee-fly: 1 species
Scorpion Fly:1 species
Butterflies and Moths: 10 species

 Hummingbird Hawkmoth- the larvae feed on plants such as bedstraws so important to have wild areas in at the wildlife farm. This species overwinters as an adult and can have up to four broods in one year. 
 Scarab Beetle Cetonia sp
 Silver-washed Fritillary
Scorpion Fly
Unit 5: Ponds
Ponds are one of the most important units within the plots providing aquatic habitats for a diverse group of species and importantly inviting pest predators such as frogs and toads into the wildlife friendly farm. More here
Species seen here:
Dragonflies and Damselflies: 2 species
Frogs: 2 species
Turtles: 1 species (last year)
Water Invertebrates: 3 species
 Broad-bodied Chaser
 Pond Turtle
Pond Frog. Needless to say an important pest predator especially for slugs

Unit 6: Other; Trees, animal pens, margins and borders
In addition to the main units the plots have a number of mixed trees (Fruits and nuts) and also there are farm animals and importantly some areas of the plots are left wild to create structural diversity for further invertebrates to find food plants and shelter. More here

Lattice Brown- found amongst a Cherry Tree
 Red-backed Shrikes feed in the Plot 1. This bird is a recently fledged juvenile. A species which is declining over western Europe this species is very common in the study area.
House Martins nesting on the nearby Church. Aerial feeding birds are constant features over the wildlife  friendly farming airspace.
The Light Trap
In addition to the species seen in the various units, I also ran a light trap on certain evenings to get a snap shot of some of the nocturnal invertebrate life.
There were 44 species of moths, 3+ caddisflies, 4 ladybirds, 4+ beetle sp , small solitary wasps and of course lots of midges.
Safari Light Trap
 Chinese Character- a moth that poses as a bird dropping/faecal sack
Ruby Tigers and Rustic sp 
Nine-spotted Moth

In short
Basically the Balkan Ecology Project Plots are teeming with wildlife. Absolutely incredible!

The future

The project has recently acquired an additional 34 plots. Hopefully each plot will be developed by Project Teams working systematically through a process of observation, design, implementation and recording;

1. Surveys including Mapping areas, contour surveys, phase 1 habitat surveys, soil surveys, bird/mammal/bat surveys, entomological surveys and desk stop studies looking into past use and historical context.

2. Designing and Planning. Using the information from the surveying to establish a plan for each plot using a design palette inspired from the existing plots and established units. 

3. Implementation of Plan.

4. On going production, maintenance and recording. 

For further development on this please watch here: Land Stewardship