Monday 30 July 2018

Oare Marshes - Red-necked Phalarope

Another great day at Oare. Ebird list HERE. Highlights included the adult Red-necked Phalarope, the adult Bonaparte's Gull, a juvenile Cuckoo, 5 Curlew Sandpiper and an adult Spotted Redshank. 

 Adult Bonaparte's Gull. This shot was taken using a Canon 500mm lens which I had a spin on thanks to a very generous Essex birder. Might have to upgrade my lens. Compare the quality of the above shot with my set up below. 
 Moulting it's outer primaries at the moment which has progressed to p8 which is growing, p9 and p10 old
 Adult Red-necked Phalarope 

Red-necked Phalarope slip-streaming a Shoveler- presumably benefiting from the food generated by the disturbance that the Shoveler was causing 

Thursday 26 July 2018

Beddington Meltdown

With a local temperature of 35 C today and no rain for nearly two months, the summer of 2018 is shaping up to be one not to forget. It was only 4 months ago that we were scouring the farm for hard weather vagrants from the Beast of the East and now I've spent this week scouring the farm for continental dragonflies and drought dispersing butterflies and moths. Since this heatwave started we've had 18 potential new species of moth for the farmlands 

 The locally bred juvenile Peregrines have been performing recently 
 The juvenile Kestrels are also out 
 Brown Argus- a local scarcity 
Wainscot Neb, Monochroa palustrellus- a nationally scarce species and a first for the farmlands (thanks Martin Honey for id)
 Narrow-winged Pug- another first for the Farmlands (thanks Billy for id) 
 Gypsonoma minutana- another national scarce species and first for the farmlands. Thanks Billy!  
 Coleophora sp. possibly hemerobiella- another possible first for the farmlands (thanks Martin again) 
  Coptotriche marginea- the third record for the farmlands following records by Colin Plant and Derek Coleman. (Cheers Martin for id) 
 Caloptilia stigmatella
Another Juniper Webber
Small Seraphim with Pug sp 
 Small Ranunculus 
Canary Shouldered Thorn- a classic favourite 
Up to five Hedgehogs in the Obs garden recently and also sightings on Bedzed and elsewhere in the SINC. I put out some water tonight and some meal worms too as apparently de-hydrated Hedgehogs have been reported across the country.  While on the subject of mammals Tomos saw the Badger again last night- now the second sighting of this Beddington mega. Badger has only been reported from the farmlands before by hairs being found near some set activity so these recent sightings are the first actual sight records. 

Tuesday 24 July 2018

Southern Migrant Hawker- Oare Marshes

Visited Oare Marshes yesterday- Ebird list HERE.

Highlight was the Southern Migrant Hawkers- up to 12 on site. This species was only recorded for the first time at Oare last Thursday. There is currently an invasion/ colonisation occurring in the Thames Estuary probably facilitated by the heat wave. This species had already established itself on the North side of the Estuary around Canvey in recent years but has clearly got larger conquest plans. Mating was noted yesterday at Oare.

What with the 11 Little Egrets on the East Flood and the baking heat and sun- it all felt a bit global warmy.  

Also had a few Common Emeralds. 

 Southern Migrant Hawkers (above) 
 Common Emerald Damselfly 
 Where's Bonie?
 First-summer Med Gull. Also a juvenile and a few adults on the East Flood. 
Had 15+8 Whimbrel going over. 

Sunday 22 July 2018

Darwin's Pad

Visited Down House today, the former home of Charles Darwin with the family and Sharon. Jacob threw a complete tantrum in Darwin's bedroom, screaming the house down, loud enough to wake the dead- which would have been nice as we could have met the man himself. 

Of course a hero of mine (and of any naturalist) and such a man of his time. In many ways the collective objective of a mass mini-bourgeois, lots of mini Darwins, in mini gardens and houses, independently studying nature, recording, reporting, postulating, writing, exploring- all feeding into collective institutions - is a lofty and admirable ideology and in a way, the changes in society that led to people/families like Darwin having to sell their estates to collective charities and allow a redistribution of wealth and the rise of the empowered masses has been a success. For myself and friends I would say this has certainly been true and has been an incredible opportunity for us all. Considering I was born into poverty on a council estate I would never been able to have the amazing experiences of exploring, becoming a master of science, publishing papers and books etc if it wasn't for the foundations laid down by Darwin and the genuine great and good of the past. 

However hasn't it all now become more of a failure than a success? Hasn't the aristocratic nightmare of ignorant and uncultured masses hijacking society, herded by capitalist lords, a pandering to the lowest common denominator, a paving over of gardens, astro-turfing, a destruction of nature, a de-civilisation and de-culturing, a decline, an over-exploitation, a rebellion against science - hasn't this nightmare also become true? Isn't this what the Victorians wanted to hold back freedom and democracy from? 

Isn't there some kind of debt for those of us who have used that opportunity to empower ourselves to now take back control of that spiralling self destructive energy that is destroying everything? Don't we owe that to Darwin? I reckon I do. In a time where society has clearly been completely hacked by the great and the evil its no longer about the great and the good looking after us- more so about the low and the good taking up the mantle. Isn't that what the radical Victorians sacrificed themselves for and left legacies like Down House to give us a few ideas on how to do that? 

 Down House 
Darwin's study- where he wrote the Origin of Species 
 150 years later, Darwinism and the ideology and values of the great Victorian naturalists has replicated millions of times into smaller and smaller fragments- here's a Darwin disciples outpost in a housing estate in South London (i.e. mine) 

Meanwhile- back at the Beddington obs- up to 12 Jersey Tigers in the trap at the moment and seeing them around town too 

Saturday 21 July 2018

Micro madness

It all starts getting rather abstract when you start staring at these things too long- the majority of humanity don't care enough about charismatic creatures like Orangutans, large mammals, cetaceans and birds. What hope have these things got-  tiny, grey, cyptic, in-distinctive micro-moths. Anyway good job people like me like them . Here's a few UFOs, works in progress and highlights from the Beddington farmlands trap this week.

I got a chance to put a second Heath Trap by the South Lake this week and got a couple of interesting moths Bright-line Brown Eye and Garden Tiger- neither of which I have recorded at the main obs trap this year. 

Also met up with Tomos in the week to have a look at the Barn Owls (saw two coming out of the usual area) and last night had a look for Hedgehogs- had at least five in the obs garden area- must be an important local population. Tomos is planning on setting up some feeding stations and camera traps. 

Recurvaria nanella- thanks Harry (Surrey moths) 
Bud moth Spilonota ocellana- one of our more regular micros 
Most of the 'scops' recently have been lacustrata. This one looks more like Eudonia mercurella.

Coleophora albitarsella? 

Bucculatrix sp.(thanks Martin, Surrey Moths) 
Parornix sp (thanks Martin, Surrey Moths) 
Caloptilia populetorum, probably this (thanks Harry, Surrey Moths) 
Swammerdamia sp Maybe S.pyrella (Little Ermine) 
Straw Grass Veneer Agriphila straminella 
Common Groundling Teleiodes vulgella (above and below) 

White Banded Grounding Recurvaria leucatella 
Ermine sp  probably a Willow Ermine
Blastobasis adustella (left) and Monopis obviella. A couple of our more common micros.
Bryotropha terella - another common micro. 
Acrobasis advenella- I think the broken sub-marginal line is an effect of wear?
Dotted Oak Knot-horn Phycita roborella 
Lesser Spotted Pinion (not a micro of course, same for flounced rustic and Scorched Carpet below) 
Flounced Rustic
Bulrush Veneer Calamotropha paludella- a  local scarcity (thanks Surrey moths for id). This is listed as a national status B moth (in 1995). There have been several records at Beddington Farmlands by Derek Coleman, Colin Plant and Graham Collins. 
Scorched carpet- another local scarcity