Saturday 30 January 2016

Gull Workshop

First-winter Caspian Gull 
First-winter Caspian Gull 
  Gull workshop group  (photo by Lukas Becker)
Photo Lukas Becker 

Had the gull workshop today. 11 people took part, we looked at species identification, ageing and variation within the regular gulls at the farmlands and Martin found a first-winter Caspian Gull which was a lifer for a few of the group.

We had Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull and Caspian Gull.



BBC Winterwatch, Beddington Farmlands


35 mins in

Thursday 28 January 2016

January Micro Moths

 Tortricodes alternella
 Platyedra subcinerea
  Monopsis laevigella/waverella
Cheers Billy for help with ids
Ophion Wasp sp

Finally got the light trap (got two now) working but not to much activity. Had a few bits a couple of nights ago. Six species of micro moth- here's three of the least common ones for this time of year round here. (Some balmy mild evenings). 

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Inside Croydon article on Beddington Tree Sparrows

The Little Short

The Big Short trailer

Saw the big short yesterday evening. Interesting how long it takes for 'something' to go from 'reality' to the movies- basically in this case about eight years. (i.e. the time it takes for 'the public' to become aware of what is 'happening' at the present). 

I was fascinated by the big crash of 2008 (see a few posts at the time HERE). At the time I thought it was the beginning of a more sustainable future for Western societies, with at last ,a chance for the problem of biodiversity shrinkage to be addressed.  The collapse of global Capitalism had occurred so, I thought, it was now the chance for a sustainable system to take over. Well I was right and wrong- more than ever what emerged from the crash was the re-crystallisation of the great old divides, with two very traditional 'worlds' re-establishing themselves more acutely since the end of the world wars, one taking the form of a global neo-aristocracy and the other, largely a rabble of everyone else.

The 'Capitalists' (Fundamental Capitalists) 
The first of those worlds was the crystillization of a Super Elite Capitalist global society, so instead of Fundamental Capitalism (un-ethical as opposed to 'ethical-Capitalism') crashing and disappearing it actually emerged violently out of a cocoon into its finest hour with the last seven to eight years seeing one of the largest transfers of wealth from the poor to rich in the history of the planet (SEE HERE). We are now in an era of great austerity, inequality and environmental decline for large sectors of society within our own country and worse so in other parts of the world. Those deep divides are dangerous, with fault lines opening up and widening. In the process biodiversity and nature is also being carved up in the carnage (e.g development on nature protected habitat, pollution etc).

So how did a super elite Capitalist society emerge from a global crash of Capitalism? The answer is something which nobody could have predicted- the creation of the biggest scam ever-a combination of quantitative easing (HERE) and financial sector bail outs HERE. In other words printing money and inventing a form of socialism for bankers and the rich (a safety net for reckless risk takers, fraudsters and the greedy- a safety net paid for by tax payers). So in other words they are now untouchable- they can print as much money for themselves as they like and if anything goes wrong they will be bailed out by the governments that protect them (facilitators). They can in theory just keep creating bubbles and then crashing the economy- wave after wave of destruction for 'everyone else'.

Importantly part of that destruction is environmental and ecological and it is important to understand the connection between the health of the natural system and how the overall system works. Biodiversity indicators reflect the management of the system. If the  economic and social system is not functioning correctly, neither will the biological system. The management of biological systems requires a sound economic and social framework- an overall ethical framework that reflects a wide range of quality of life indicators. These indicators should govern system management- not simply capital indicators. The ideology of the Capitalist elitists is overall a human-centric ideology, where nature is a peripheral priority and the processing of nature into capital is a fundamental method for perpetuating capital growth.See below how biodiversity indicators reflect the failure of the 'system' to manage biodiversity.

Everyone Else (The Capitalist 'slaves' and the Resistance/Socio-environmentalists/Ethical Capitalists) 
The second of those worlds to emerge/become more polarised (granted that I'm using a simple narrative here to absorb the 'big middle') from the Big Crash was the beginnings of the 'everybody else' world- basically anybody who is not in this new global Fundamental Capitalist elite. Problem is there is a bit of catch for everybody else when it comes to quantitative easing, socialism for the rich and fundamental Capitalism for 'the poor'. To explain-here is what QE is:

Source BBC

The problem with QE is that money is being created that does not reflect the primary resources that money is in theory supposed to reflect. The money also goes to the financial institutions and not to the people and the low interests rates are not good for savings and are designed to encourage more borrowing, more debt - more of the same ingredients that caused the last big crash.  Market forces are supposed to reflect either scarcity (high price e.g. gold) or abundance (low price e.g. grass) so if you start printing money you start to loose the connection between the true value of resources, the prices wont reflect whether something is scarce or not, the market forces won't naturally select what is working and is not working. If market forces were left to do what they do best- then capitalism should have been left to fail and a sustainable society would have formed. The invisible hand of the market would have guided in the sustainable future (as Karl Marx had predicted a more social minded shift in Capitalism would occur organically)- Capitalism should have fallen victim to it's own philosophy. However that is not what happened- the 'Capitalists' protected themselves by creating a socialist state for themselves (so they are not really even 'Capitalists'- just Elitists). If you combine QE with a socialist state for the super rich you basically have a very toxic cocktail- a cocktail which is being served up to 'everybody else'. That cocktail is also a mix of fundamental capitalist forces for the under-privileged and poor- forces that the hypocritical Capitalists do not expose themselves too.  

As the transfer of wealth to the rich from the poor continues and as population continues to increase, quality of life indicators will continue to show worsening states- biodiversity will continue to decline, environmental conditions will decline further as resources are depleted more and more- the people outside the new castle of the super elite Capitalists and their instruments of power will start to live in increasingly toxic and hostile conditions. Slowly life expectancy will decrease, fertility will decrease, access to resources will become restricted and biodiversity will decrease. In effect those outside the castle will live in states of hopelessness and ill health and the 'Capitalists' will continue to profit from those swarms through tenancy, mass consumption, cheap labour, destroying biodiversity and treating their sicknesses for profit. Its basically a transfer of human well being and natural complexity into numbers on a computer screen- a transfer of governing code- that dictates how the system operates. Its replicating code from a central DNA blueprint that is fundamentally corrupted. 

However, it's not all good news for the 'Capitalists'. There is one thing that can counter the attempts of the 'Capitalists' to make everyone intoxicated on what they have to offer. That one thing is:

Personal Empowerment

Basically that means not letting the corrupted system get you and there are many ways of doing that. The main focus is to detach as much as possible from being dependent on the macro system of fundamental capitalism, disconnected as much as possible from the services and goods that centralised non-ethical Capitalism produces and to form independency in smaller autonomous groups or larger ethical corporations. That 'mutation' should develop a counter-stream (a new course) which will form a basic blueprint for the emerging post-growth society. So there's loads of options (basically anything you can think of that is inspiring and empowering to yourself and your 'group'). Here's ten ideas off the top of my head:

1. Self employment- providing de-centralised ethical services and products and creating financial self sufficiency. A franchise is a good half way house or even free lancing skills for ethical companies. 
2. Supporting small scale producers, especially local ones and supporting ethical businesses and products (generally the bigger and more centralised a business the less humane and intimate they are- networks, replicating models, businesses connected by ideology etc typically have more intimacy and personal involvement ) 
3. Forming trade networks (e.g. I'll buy from you, you buy from me), 
4. Avoiding personal debt as much as possible- debt is the great enslaver.Generating as much self sufficiency as possible (generate your own power, your own food, or connect to  autonomous networks that provide that)
5. Take positions of power in local society, favour local community and local community initiatives and block the central capitalists bastards :-). Politically important to have a more representative system too- a multi-party system appears to be emerging which could mean less influence from the Capitalists to one particular political party- but by that time central political power will be even less (the Capitalists are by-passing democracy- look at TTIP) and the importance of local political power would have grown. The DNA blueprint of the system needs to change and that will only come from a multi-pronged, multi fractal 'offensive' against the flow of those that are protecting the current blueprint that serves 'them' (the value system) well. 
6. Cause the 'Capitalists' and big business in your district as much trouble as possible if they are up to no good and do the best to try and make them see and act on their social and environmental responsibility (after all some of them are humane too). If they won't listen try and block everything they do in anyway possible and make sure you get away with it.
7. Form moneyless networks- I'll offer this service in exchange for that (stream lined transactions)
8. Stop buying excessively, concentrate on needs and comfort 
9. Start creating new habitats and managing spaces for wildlife and people, take ownership of the problem and create the solutions 
10. Start Birding! and doing other great fun and interesting creative stuff in all the free time that you'll have once you stop working for those bastards and start working for yourself and your group 

The Little Short
So why is this blog post called the Little Short?

Well, the Big short is all about 'big time bankers' who saw the financial crash coming and made a load of money from it. Well, they weren't the only ones to see the crash coming. The economy has various faces/sides/fractals to it. One of those fractals is the SMEs and micro business network and the people on the front line of that. That interface is also sensitive to the buzz, rhythms,creaks and rumbles of the economy and several people including myself saw the big crash coming and acted on it.  Ok I know bugger all about short selling of stocks, derivatives etc but as a simple mutt I did sell my property (encouraged by a change in circumstances) and went to live in a 'bunker' from 2007 and re-bought into the property market in 2009. So I was basically betting on the property market crashing. It did. I'm now mortgage free and basically semi-retired from having to earn money (plenty of more meaningful and rewarding work to do though (SEE HERE ).  Ethically- I did tell everyone else that would listen to do the same- so??

So with some kind of qualification- what's my prediction for the next few years. Well its both bleak and brilliant. On one hand the 'capitalists' will crystallize power and do their best to centralize capital, impoverish the hinterlands, create scarcity, more inequality, more disease and less nature. The 'Capitalists' can engineer crash after crash- each time transferring more and more wealth into their hands- each transfer means less nature and less equality. On the other hand the resistance to this horror will grow and a concurrent free society will emerge, not necessarily by challenging the power of the 'Capitalists'- that is largely fruitless unless involving mass participation (but good for exposing the threat they present) , by trying to work as well as possible within the limits set (even trying to find some kind of co-operation with large companies) and by developing ideas, technology and new models in the alternative free and sustainable society and taken on the personal responsibility to make the necessary changes and fill in the gaps that remain with the best fit solutions. It requires individuals to join that movement and detach from the negative influences of the 'Capital'.

This is a very simple synopsis of clearly a much more complex situation but its an attempt to highlight some of the main 'tectonic plates' moving around here. Its more about ideologies rather than groups of people or individuals. Those ideologies are fluid and permeate a material reality- things are not what they may seem. What I mean by that is you could find someone who is more genuinely environmentally conscious working in the banking sector than you might in conservation (and arguably could create more changes). The offensive I refer to here is an offensive on a way of thinking- fundamental capitalists do not necessarily live in mansions, do not drive big cars etc- probably most of them are in some of the most impoverished sectors of society (thats mainly where that way of thinking keeps a lot of them!). Environmentalists do not necessarily live in hobbit houses either. The material and structured world is largely irrelevant when it comes to ideas- well off and well connected people could be living in the slums- undercover. 

So the main thing is we have an ideological crisis and this really is no time to be complacent, apathetic or inactive- those bastards (the ideas) are tightening their grip- freedom always needs to be fought for. The socio-environmental movement have been calling on people to de-centralise and form symbiotic ethical networks for years (for decades). It has been happening and it is growing- but things need to escalate. The thing is now- it is either do it or die (rather slowly as environmental conditions get worse and everybody's health and well-being suffers even more). So what's my little short?- prepare for further decline, de-centralise, connect to the emerging networks (which ultimately will generate the return to a new prosperity- one that values nature and well-being more), don't wait eight years to find out what you've missed out, so in short- join the Resistance :-) 

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Monday 25 January 2016

Viridor Credits, the Conservation NGOs and Beddington Farmlands

Interesting the relationship between Viridor and the conservation NGOs.  The NGOs that are supported with Viridor money include some of the most 'powerful' groups e.g. RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, The Woodland Trust and The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Click on link below to see the biodiversity projects that Viridor credits support:

It's a particularly strange relationship when you look at the results of the restoration at Beddington Farmlands (below) and how Viridor have been responsible for causing an ecological collapse there. Seems strange  that on one hand Viridor are supporting biodiversity projects (often small ones, focused on novelty e.g. big Cranes in well protected and well off areas) and on another are destroying major sites and whole ecological systems elsewhere. Also seems strange that the conservation NGOs are party to this and are basically acting as the PR vehicle for Viridor.

I guess it's not really a surprise that the state of nature conservation in the UK is in such a crisis! 

Here's a few results of Viridor's work at Beddington Farmlands (results from 2013): 

Conservation Management Scheme Breeding Target Species
Tree Sparrow- down from nearly 1000 birds in 2007 to 9 pairs in 2013 (reduced further to 1-2 pairs in 2015)
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

And before anyone says that several of these species are in regional decline- the cause of regional decline is often the cumulative effect of loss at the local level (Beddington was bucking several national trends before the restoration slipped further behind). 

Sunday 24 January 2016

Roost counts

 836 Ring-necked Parakeets this evening 

2630 Jackdaws to roost

Did a roost count this evening. Had 836 Parakeets heading over to roost and 2630 Jackdaws. The roost sites are in Mitcham Common- just to the north of the farmlands.

Here's the breakdown in counts showing the variation in flock sizes coming in:

Jackdaws: 50,10,50,10,30,30,200,20,200,120,50,50,20,350,200,450,50,50,200,50,300,2,40,25,5,3,30,20,15

Ring-necked Parakeets:

Some interesting patterns in there. 

Also had the Common Sandpiper calling after it got dark. 

Saturday 23 January 2016

A few worthy causes

London National Park Thunderclap

RSPB Defend Nature

Here's a couple of campaigns which caught my interest. The first one to declare London a National Park City Facebook page which could help in focusing the importance of London as an area for biodiversity and the second one is urging MEPs to vote in favour of the  defence of the Nature Directives in the European Parliament in early February.

Fundamentally the cutting edge of conservation is on the front line, the people monitoring, defending and managing the network of habitats and protected areas across the country, all the local patches, local reserves etc. These larger campaigns are worthy too but important to realise for the vast majority of people the most effective way of making a real difference is helping out on the front line. Supporting the central campaigns is ineffective unless it is activated by individual effort locally.

If you haven't already please support the Bedddington Farmlands Campaign by following, sharing info, joining a tour, becoming an associate member and joining in with the petitioning and lobbying.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Birds of Conservation Concern 4- Beddington Farmlands

We still have 10 pairs at Beddington Farmlands

The BoCC4 was published in the December issue of British Birds (more HERE). The words sobering and bleak were used by both the paper authors and the British Birds editor to describe the conservation state of birds in the UK at present. There are now 67 species on the Red List (27.5% of all regular occurring species that were assessed), 96 on the Amber list and 81 on the Green List. So basically the majority of birds in the UK are threatened.

The regular occurring birds at Beddington Farmlands which are on the red list include:

Common Pochard  ( WDP1 -51%) *for criteria definition see below
Northern Lapwing  ( BDP1 - 57% , BDP2 -63%)
Ringed Plover  (WDP1- 52% )
Whimbrel  (BDP1-67%, BDR1-50% )
Eurasian Curlew  (BDP2-62%)
Black-tailed Godwit  (HD)
Ruff  (BDP2-62%, BDR1-62%)
Herring Gull  (BDP1-60%, WDP1- 53 to -60%)
Turtle Dove  (IUCN VU, BDP1-92%, BDP2-96%)
Common Cuckoo (BDP1-60%, BDP2-60%)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (BDP1-81%, BDP2-81%)
Skylark (BDP2-60%)
Common Starling (BDP1-70%, BDP2-83%)
Ring Ouzel (BDP1-72%)
Fieldfare (BDP1-50%, BDP2-63%)
Song Thrush (BDP2-59%)
Redwing (BDP2- 59%)
Mistle Thrush BDP2-62%)
Spotted Flycatcher ( BDP1-80%, BDP2-88%)
Whinchat (BDP1-55%)
House Sparrow (BDP2- 66%)
Tree Sparrow (BDP2- 90%)
Yellow Wagtail (BDP1-63%, BDP2-57%)
Grey Wagtail (BDP2-57%)
Tree Pipit (BDP1-64%, BDP2-70%)
Linnet (BDP2-60%)
Lesser Redpoll (BDP1-64%, BDP2-83%)

WDP1: Winter Range Decline of more than 50% between the wintering atlases y/e 1984 and 2011
BDP1: Breeding Population Decline of over 50% over 25 years
BDP2: Breeding Population Decline of over 50% over a longer term
BDR1:  Breeding Range Decline of more than 50% between breeding atlases y/e 1991 and 2011
HD: Historical decline.
IUCN: Globally threatened.
VU: Vulnerable.

Herring Gulls- a Red listed Species (The highest conservation priority). Ironically the environmentally very unfriendly landfill is supporting this species. It's unsettling to think that even our scavenging species are beginning to decline! 

Personally the words sobering and bleak are far too gentle to describe the state of nature in the UK and especially on my own local patch. I wouldn't hesitate at using the words devastating, depressing and soul destroying to describe the experience at watching the place where I grew up and learned to love nature being destroyed.  However it is important to use that anger and hurt to harness into a well directed, planned and focused reaction.

For me the reason why species are nationally declining is because they are declining on all the local patches in the nation and if you can stop and reverse it on your own local patch- that is the main way to deal with this crisis.  Yes I understand the need for central policy changes, for more engagement and I understand that some of these declines are e.g. related to climate change etc but I believe these big problems are the result of lots of little problems and I don't believe those changes will come unless there is enough pressure on the front line. As a local patcher, I recognise that local bird and nature groups/individuals are on the front line of this devastation and I often contemplate that to deal with it we need the support of a wider community.

Somehow the conservation movement needs to move in one spear headed direction (NGOs, celebs, conservation groups, individuals, conservation friendly business, conservation friendly politicians etc) where the effort leads to enough pressure on the front line that can assist with driving the central changes too. The different levels- local, regional and national need to align and focus and that means local groups connecting with that regional and national support (and even international). Locally we don't really have the support of the regional and national movement and isolated locals groups are quite frankly doomed to failure without that support. At the moment we don't appear to be near that but hopefully slowly getting closer. 

Monday 18 January 2016

A few gulls

Here's a few things that caught my eye today
 First-winter Caspian Gull- a new bird
 Presumably a Lesser Black-backed x Herring Gull hybrid
 3rd/4th winter bird- same as above (pic 2) 
Presumably a Herring Gull from up north somewhere- pale tips to the primaries and frosty marbled coverts and rather washed out tertials. Some strange stuff can be coming from various populations from the north from places like Iceland, northern Europe and especially some strange goings on around the Baltic. 
 A juvenile gull with retarded scapular moult- almost a Lesser Black backed look to the coverts but tertials notched. The retarded moult suggests something from up north.
 Something else, big, with retarded moult and a pallidness to it- presumably from up there.
Didn't really know what to conclude on this

Sunday 17 January 2016

The last Tree Sparrows

 Kojak and I went looking for Tree Sprogs this morning. Had a pair and a spare and possibly two extra birds. So literally hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The population was nearly a 1000 birds post breeding in 2007 and there were still 100 broods in 2012. The decline was sudden. Nearly all of the target species for conservation are now either extinct or in drastic decline at Beddington presumably  a result of the lack of implementation of the conservation management plan by Viridor.
Had this Marsh Harrier go over today too. Also the cold weather produced a small influx of Redwings and also surprisingly Blackbirds- at least 12 between Mile Road Bridge and Irrigation Bridge. Also 3 Jack Snipe, 4 Water Pipit, 100+ Linnet, 20 Goldfinch and 15+ Mipit. 

Saturday 16 January 2016

Ice Day

The first time we've had a hard frost this winter- ice on the lakes.


Wednesday 13 January 2016

Under the Bridge

Irrigation Bridge in Summer
The Tunnel/Pipe under the bridge. I wandered into the murky world under Irrigation bridge today, to a tunnel which is a well known hibernating area for Herald moths. I was hoping to find a female Winter Moth (a bizarre looking flightless creature); no joy unfortunately but there were a few other interesting creatures down there. Got some putative ids on some of them. 
 Heralds (6 present)
 Monopsis crocicapitella/obviella
 Agnopoterix heracliana ? What's the 'case' next to it?

 Orb Spider Metellina merianae ?