Here's a few highlights from this year's trips away and adventures at LITTLE OAK GROUP
JANUARY :WINTER IN THE TROPICS - GHANA
No better way than breaking up the Northern winter than with a trip to the tropics. Planning on setting up a small winter project in Ghana so in 2018 we did a recce to find a project area.
Isaac and I on the Canopy Walkway
The local Hawfinch invasion was a once in a lifetime spectacle. For the full story see Steve's blog HERE
FEBRUARY- MARCH: THE BEAST FROM THE EAST
The infamous Beast from the East 2018 produced some excellent local birding.
Ice age at Beddington Farmlands
Lapwing at Beddington- large numbers were displaced in the cold weather
Golden Plover- good numbers were also recorded with birds also on the deck, feeding amongst the excavators that were keeping unfrozen ground exposed
Knot- one of the highlights of the hard weather movement
Avocet on ice
Pink-footed Geesse over Oxfordshire
MARCH: SPRING IN THE DESERT- WESTERN SAHARA
Jaffa and the Sahara
'Desert' Lanner- amazing birds
Wryneck on a pavement in the city
Eurasian Bittern in the middle of the desert- the first sight record for the Western Sahara
Managed to get one of the best recordings of Golden Nightjar. Also availale to download from Xeno-canto HERE
APRIL: HOOPOE AT BEDDINGTON
The first at Beddington in 40 years!
APRIL: BEDDINGTON FARMLANDS CAMPAIGN
The Beddington campaign rumbled along through 2018 with highlights including the May local councillor election where I stood as a Green Party candidate to highlight Beddington Farmlands and also the September Chris Packham People's March where we marched for a end to conservation organisation corruption at Beddington Farmlands.
The Amazing Magical Viridor Plan- our Spring campaign song
The Royal Society for the Protection of Big Business- our autumn campaign song
Sue, Andrew and myself meeting Sian Berry (Green Party co-leader) and Caroline Lucas (Green MP)
MAY: HERPING IN BULGARIA
Had an absolutely fantastic trip in May with Dylan and Anton herping in Bulgaria. We had 20 species of reptiles and amphibians in three days.
Dahl's Whip Snake
JUNE: EUROPEAN ROAD TRIP- SLOVENIA, CROATIA AND AUSTRIA IN SUMMER
Absolutely incredible trip in the camper with the gang. The focus was on getting Rock Partridge for the WP list and then making a start on learning WP butterflies and moths. Guided in Slovenia by Domen BLOG HERE
Rock Partridge in Croatia
Ural Owl in Slovenia
Purple Shaded Gem
Narrow-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
View over Cerknica, Slovenia
The Tyrol Alps in Austria
Holly and Jacob in the Med (nice to drive there)
JUNE: SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS AT THE OLD VICARAGE
Great to see the Spot Flys breeding again at Holly's.
SUMMER: CONSERVATION WORK
Our wildlife friendly green space management goes on daily throughout the year SEE HERE
. For more on works in 2018 see HERE
JULY-AUGUST: THE LONG HOT INSECT SUMMER
Summer 2018 was long and dry and hot. Great for insects. Loads of new moths at the Beddington obs and an incredible influx of Southern Migrant Hawkers into the South.
Southern Migrant Hawker (above and below) , Oare Marshes
Bulrush Veneer-at Beddington Farmlands. A local scarcity. There was a lot of displacement of insects through the summer particularly wetland species which were presumably moving around as their habitats dried up.
Nephopterix angustella- one of many firsts for Beddington Farmlands through the period
Gold Spot - a second for the farmlands
Juniper Webber- a first for Beddington
Presumably forced out by the dry conditions there were 12-15 Hedgehogs in the local area by late summer
Had a couple of great days out with Steve Gale BLOG HERE
out on the North Downs looking at botany and butterflies. This Small Teasle was one of the highlights.
Beddington Farmlands in August- a parched landscape
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER: AZORES PELAGIC 2018
Yet another great success on the Azores pelagic. This year led by David Monticelli with three separate Swinhoe's Petrel sightings and lots more: SEE HERE
Monteiro's Storm Petrel
Swinhoe's Storm Petrel
AUGUST TO OCTOBER: AUTUMN RARITIES
The Richard's Pipit at Beddington was the local highlight of the autumn. The first since 1970
Roger found some great local birds including Black Tern (above) and recording breaking numbers of Spoonbill (below)
Despite several trips to Kent, didn't manage to find much although did see the usual Bonaparte's at Oare, Red-necked Phal there and some general great Thames Estuary birding
'Bird ' of the autumn locally was this Beluga Whale in the Thames estuary.
The great mothing season continued into the autumn with this Dusky Lemon Sallow in October- a first for the farmlands
OCTOBER: AZORES AUTUMN 2018
What an autumn!- full article on Birdguides HERE
Blue Grosbeak- a first for the WP
Yellow-throated Vireo- a dream WP bird
Northern Parula- a self found bird
A couple of publications from the team including two articles in Dutch Birding and the 2015 Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report
NOVEMBER : BULGARIA RECCE NOVEMBER 2018
Started an exciting new project in November with the plan to buy some land and set up a small nature reserve/observatory on the Black Sea in Bulgaria. Early days yet but the recce went really well.
Juvenile White-tailed Eagle
The Shipka Monastery- also visited the family while there in the beautiful Valley of the Roses
Dimiter at one of the prospect areas
NOVEMBER: LOCAL REFERENDUM ON OUR LOCAL NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
DECEMBER: BEDDINGTON FARMANDS REPORT 2017
A good end to the year with managing to complete and get the Beddington Farmlands Report published. Another great team effort and amazing photography by Tomos WEBSITE HERE