Monday 30 October 2017

Skywatching in Oxfordshire- More Hawfinches

A great couple of days in Oxon and Bucks skywatching. Yesterday I did a couple of hours standing like a lemon in the Old Vic garden from dawn. Had 10 Hawfinches, 1, 5 and 4 heading south, 5 Golden Plover, also 1 Bullfinch,  2 Siskin, Redpoll, 200+ Woodpigeon, Fieldfares and Redwings, Chaffinches and the odd Mipit and Pied Wagtail. There was Coal Tit and Goldcrest in the garden.

This morning I got to Brill Windmill at dawn (a high point overlooking Bucks) and had another 2 Hawfinch, 8 Siskin, 1 Redpoll, 100+ Woodpigeon, 4 Skylark, 1 Reed Bunting, 20+ Fieldfare, 100+ Redwing, 5 Song Thrush, 1 Mistle Thrush,  2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Meadow Pipit and 10 Chaffinch. 
 Brill Windmill at dusk (the night before noticed some Chaffinches moving so gave it a go this morning as a skywatching post- success) 
 One of the Brill Hawfinches flying over just after dawn in poor light 
 Pied Wagtail on the move 
 Coal Tit in the Old Vic garden 
 Marsh Harrier at Otmoor- popped into Otmoor with Jacob yesterday- not a lot moving there (maybe not on a flight line?) 
 Turnip moth and Beaded Chestnut at the Old Vic 
 Dawn from Brill Windmill 
 Dawn from Brill 
Spent this afternoon at the new shopping centre (Westgate)  in Oxford wondering why more people don't get out in the beautiful countryside round here rather than walking round these hell holes. As hell holes go this one wasn't so bad- a roof terrace, open aspect, a bit of planting for pollinators going on, a massive Lush store and quite a few independent outlets. Had a Red Admiral on the roof. 

Saturday 28 October 2017


Finally Hawfinch fell at Beddington today with 2 over at 850am and then another 4 over at 1000am, both moving north west. They were part of a major visible migration, presumably a big push of birds ahead of the cold front that is moving in. The west wind was noticeably cold today- the first major drop in temperature this winter. The movement consisted of 1900 Woodpigeon, 21 Skylark, 35 Meadow Pipit, 50 Pied Wagtail (an influx on the enclosed lagoons), 140 Redwing, 295 Fieldfare (the first for the winter), 80 Chaffinch, 3 Brambling, 12 Lesser Redpoll, 10 Greenfinch, 4 Siskin, 100 Goldfinch (mainly on the deck), 70 Linnet (mainly on deck), 2 Bullfinch and 4 Reed Bunting. 

I had to leave at around 1030 as needed to get to Oxford. Went to Thame for lunch and then back to the Old Vic. At least one, maybe two Hawfinches in the garden there too! Looked like they were actually hanging around. 

 Hawfinch over the Old Vic 
 Fieldfares over Beddington- 295 moving north west/west today 
 Woodpigeons- 1900 today moving South and south west- interesting how different species migrate in different directions with Chaffinch, Hawfinch, Redwing and Fieldfare moving north west and Woodpigeons, Redpoll, Siskin and Meadow Pipit moving south and south west and Skylarks moving west.
 Starlings- 2000+ today on the deck with small groups moving around/over too 
 Fieldfare again
 Skylark on the move 
 Even had a Great Tit migrating! 
and the usual daily migration of 1000+ Ring-necked Parakeets flying out the roost 

Friday 27 October 2017

Bits and Pieces from this Week

Spent the entire week between getting gripped off with what is going on Corvo HERE and the rest of the time failing to find a Hawfinch for my Beddington list. Overall my late autumn has so far been another disaster following last year's highly skillful achievement of not seeing a Siberian Accentor or any other Eastern Mega. This year I managed to visit Corvo on the ONLY dead days of the entire season and must be one of the few wretched creatures to have not seen a Hawfinch on the local patch. My only solace is knowing that Lee Dingain has seen even less than I have and also the Big Year WP have gone from one bad decision to a cascade of others HERE and I'm also still living off the Schadenfreude of  witnessing British Western Pale top twitchers being stuck on Corvo last year while Siberia invaded the UK. 

So hopefully my tales of woe will bring comfort to others who like me also love seeing others suffering in a mild to moderate manner especially when they've got their priorities all wrong. Its the only thing all humans have in common- that and universal insanity. 

So my exile from the sugar rush world of natural history has had me scrapping along the bottom of nature's barrel- hanging out with insects and small creatures that lurk in the spaces between the spaces and clocking up those brownie points with my two governors and paying the necessary homage to this silly human society that I live in- i.e I've got my work done too .  
 Palpita vitrealis at Beddington
 Satellite- a local Beddington scarcity
 The Vestals keep coming at Beddington
 Sprawler at the Old Vicarage 
 Had what are presumably dark morph Green-brindled Crescents at Beddington and Old Vic
 Rusty-dot Pear at Beddington- the migrant moth activity continues 

and a few yet to id (any help much appreciated) 
 Sawfly sp 
Lacewing sp?
Beetle (jumped around like a flea) 
Leafhopper sp 
Been trying to tune into nocturnal migration at the farmlands but not easy with so many birds calling from the lake! 
The two governors 

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Chris Loughlin- the face of Terror at Beddington Farmlands

Granted this has got to win an award for most over the top post on this blog but the point is that Chris Loughlin CEO of Pennon (parent company of Viridor) ultimately has more power than anyone to make Beddington Farmlands a success story and also has more power than anyone to waste the opportunity to provide nearly 1.4 million people who live in the local area a chance to connect with nature. When you consider that access to nature is a life enhancing experience and the lack of it is a life diminishing experience- this man and others like him have all our futures in their hands. 

The global corporate take over, the shrinkage in local government power and resources, the lobbying power of corporations on political parties and the privatisation movement have all led all of us to this point- a corporate dictatorship, with the heads of those companies having the power to decide the fate of us all. This is Thatcherism crystallised- the most fittest and most deserving dictating the destiny of everyone else. In theory that should make life easy- a few people get to make all the decisions and we all have to dance to their tune- good or bad.  

Well personally I think that is a risky situation to be in- Chris Loughlin like all these multi-millionaires and billionaires have a choice and that choice could involve allowing the 1.4 million people in South London to drift into poverty and despair- and denying access to nature will contribute to that. Many of these corporate leaders, see themselves as Superhumans, winners of a race. Personally I think if these men (nearly always men) choose to see themselves that way then that was a race to the bottom and they are the Captians of Disaster Capitalism- captains of sinking ships.

Sustainable futures are coming, a new politics, a new system. Loughlin retires in 2 years so what does he care... but what about the other, younger people in Pennon/Viridor and all the people and nature they are responsible for. So many of the Captians of Disaster Capitalism are waiting to retire and have little interest in the future. 

Time will tell when our values in society will flip on their heads and we see things for a new perspective- where nothing changes but the value we put on things and when enough people realise that, that is when Sustainable Futures will begin. Personally I think we are at least one generation away and in between that and now will be a great global struggle.  These rapists of society and nature will be the loosers in the new world but they will do us all a favour and create the catalyst for change, basically they will be brought down by the masses who wake up to what is going on the more and more it becomes impossible to hide the nature of these men and the world they have created- not Superhumans but SuperCunts (sorry for the offensive language but the word Cunt should be reserved for these people) with the likes of Donald Trump leading them to their well deserved ends- Extinction. 

Monday 23 October 2017

Corvo Adventures

Bay-breasted Warbler by David Monticelli - the 2nd record for the WP 

Things just keep getting better for the Azores Autumn 2017. See Corvo Blog HERE.

For a bit of a tragic tale see the Big Year WP blog HERE

Sunday 22 October 2017

Otmoor Sunday

A nice morning at Otmoor with Jacob on our traditional (for a six month old) weekend visit. Ebird list HERE

 Bittern No 1 
 Bittern No 2 
 Common Snipes 
Hybrid Goose, Barnacle x Greylag/Canada? 

Saturday 21 October 2017

Corvo Update

Hooded Warbler (Vincent Legrand) More from Vince HERE

Turning into another epic Corvo season. Corvo Blog HERE

Azores Moths

Been a busy week catching up with work and the family after the week away on the Azores but finally got round to sorting out some moth pics from the Azores. The high pressure was not great for bird migrants but the warm evenings were better for insects- still no vagrant yank moth identified (apart from White-speck aka American Wainscot and the Wedgeling which breeds/have colonized on the Azores) but a better selection to attempts in the past. Monarch and American Painted Lady have been recorded on Corvo several times before and of course the only WP breeding population of the American damselfly Citrine Forktail is on the Azores. An American migrant moth is presumably a strong possibility- hopefully soon. 

Here's a few preliminary ids (Thanks BILLY for ids): 

 Scar Bank Gem
American Wainscot aka White-speck 
 Slender Burnished Brass 
Herpetogramma licarsisalis, the Grass Webworm
 Mediterranean Brocade 
 Bactra sp. presumably lancealana
Male Gem
 Diamond-back Moth 
pyralid in genus Ephestia presumably elutella
Crocidosema plebejana
The Wedgeling- a North American species that has colonised the Azores 
Galgula partita
Gem and Pug sp

Previous posts on this HEREHERE and HERE