Sunday 29 September 2019

Beddington Farmlands, Vestal and House Martins

Fresh south west winds and heavy rain showers has made it pretty tough going for migration this weekend. However some birds are still pushing through with over 700 House Martins moving through the farmlands yesterday and another migrant ball of 150 moving high over this morning. There's a Wheatear today too and a few Meadow Pipits are bouncing agaisnt the flow. The 2 Pintail and Wigeon are still around and duck numbers are building up well. 

Moth numbers have dropped off considerably but there's been a couple of migrants including a Vestal and the odd Diamond-back Moth. L-album Wainscot may also have been a migrant. Lunar Underwings, Large Yellow Underwings and Box-tree Moths are dominating the scene at the moment.  

House Martins on the move 

Thursday 26 September 2019

Back in the crack- Beddington Farmlands update

So back in Hackbridge and Beddington Farmlands again. It's certainly not the depressing and soul destroying place it was last year as there has been an enormous push on the restoration and huge positive vibe about the place. Phase 3 of the Wet Grassland habitat creation has also started, the area for phase 2 has been levelled, sacrificial crops are thriving, the mounds and paddocks are being managed intricately- it's all pretty amazing and almost unbelievable that it is all finally materialising. I think most people including myself had lost nearly all hope as the site had really become an emotionally toxic and harmful place to be with a horribly dark seemingly invincible council-corporate axis firmly established.. It looked like the future for the farmlands was to become the 'Syria' of the ornithological world- a proxy battle ground for international radical environmental groups vs the corporate-council axis with the wildlife and local community being sacrificed in the process. I had literally left the area (re-based at Holly's) and also the whole Bulgaria project was to prepare to leave the country . However it looks like I might have over-prepared for the worst! Nonetheless its all good - my personal investment in Beddington Farmlands is a lot less now (it was literally killing me)- there is still a long way to go with developing the reserve and it won't take much for things to start back sliding again and spiralling down again, so I've effectively spread risk across a wider range of projects, which is a better idea as in nature conservation the wheels move so slowly that it is quite possible to have multiple projects running at the same time and just keep running between them and if one of them gets into trouble, the others provide back ups and escapes from the toxic environment. 

The whole thing should never have come to this though (in an ideal world that doesn't exist) and it exposes fundamental flaws in the democratic system and the weakness of the planning system in the newly fledged (post 2008/2009 bail outs) Corpocracy. It highlights that local community democratic structures (e.g. citizen's assemblies, localism groups) are absolutely vital as the cuts in local authority spending and staff means corporations are effectively out of control. They can hoover up ecological and social capital and transform it into economic capital more efficiently than ever before as they squeeze the last drops of unsustainable growth out of the planet. The local authority (or government) no longer provides a effective regulatory middle man position between the corporations and the people, the council is now an arm of the corpocracy- their main job to manage contracts given to private companies but with few powers to enforce the conditions of those contracts if the private companies tell the council to go fuck themselves and the contract conditions- which is exactly what Viridor tried to do.   Very few local communities would have kept fighting in the way we have. We really do have some incredible local community champions. 

2 Pintails at Beddington, 3 Stonechat and 1 Whinchat were the highlights of a walk around the farmlands. A few interesting moths last night too including L-album Wainscot, Large Ranunculus, Brindled Green and Red Underwing.

 Pintails among other waterfowl 
 Good numbers of ducks around at the moment 
 Red Underwing 
 Large Rannunculus 
 Brindled Green 
 Different views of the developing wet grassland (above and two photos below) showing the expanse of this area- it really is a large and amazing area. 

 Site for the wet grassland phase 2 
Sacrificial crops thriving 

So things are looking up but the only reason things are now progressing is  that the council-corporate axis has been shaken by the local community defence with Liberal Democrat political casualties being taken (with all three Lib Dems in the Beddington North ward being annihilated by Mattey and the Independents) which has threatened the Liberal Democrat one party state through narrowing their majority. Also on 8th October, Viridor have to appear before the London Borough of Sutton Economy and Business Committee, who will decide whether legal action will be taken by the council on Viridor for breaching planning conditions. This is in response to 7500 strong petition that was set up by Tony Burton and the Wandle Forum.  This is all set in the backdrop of Viridor becoming the focus of an Extinction Rebellion international campaign (which has currently being cooled off due to the progress now being made) and the real chance of another major anti-Lib Dem campaign in the next councillor elections in 2020.   That once cosy Viridor-Liberal Democrat alliance to destroy our local environment and community for profit and to strengthen their elite positions seems to have back fired on them big time. 

The whole thing actually gives me some hope that it wont just be the elites and rich that make it through the coming bottle neck as the planet collapses due to ecological and environmental break down. The people have a real chance of defending their own communities and forming regenerative societies and calling the corporate-government axis to account. It won't be a rich-poor game- it will be a level game- whoever adapts fast enough will survive ( rather has a better chance of survival). Regenerative corporate-government-people alliances are what will ultimately make it through to rebuild the destroyed planet. It's almost certain that global conflict and tension will escalate as more and more people populate an increasingly stressed planet and there will be mass human casualties (this has already started with more natural disasters in the developing world, lowering life expectancy in the first world, suicide rates up, deaths due to air pollution etc) but there will also be technological solutions and societal restructuring and evolution that will offset that. Its still a sleepy time for the vast majority of humans living in western societies. They may have heard the alarms but have not emotionally connected to what those alarms mean- they ignore them like we all ignore car and house alarms assuming its a false alarm. They write off the alarmists as eco-loons. Will the 'sane conformed masses' ever appreciate the full human cognitive spectrum and recognise the value of those 'lunatics', those who have unique insights and perception of reality and the importance of so called insanity to our species and the subjectivity of concepts of sanity and the importance of what the entire spectrum is visualising? 

 Maybe it won't be the noise of children marching, or the inconvenience of blocked bridges, or the warnings from scientists that wake them up. They are just sleeping through the alarms. The crying of the children and warnings of the scientists will fall silent before nature strikes back.  It will be when the negative impacts of collapse start causing them unbearable personal suffering that they will wake up and for many by then it will be far too late to adapt - a new world that has stopped trying to save them would have advanced and be out of their reach. 

I got a letter from the BTO today saying I'd been nominated for the prestigious Marsh Awards for Ornithology for the Beddington Farmlands campaign.  I didn't make it as the final winner but still handy being nominated as we can promote what we've learnt at Beddington for other communities to be able to defend themselves too. It's not over at Beddington either, still a long way to go in setting up and maintaining an urban nature reserve in South London which effectively will provide another piece of the global regenerative network for nature to bounce back from and to provide vital ecosystem services and eco-social services to society as the unsustainable system collapses and a sustainable society emerges. Beddington Farmlands (and all nature reserves across the planet) will be a life line for the planet's nature and people. 

Monday 23 September 2019

Azores Nature Update 2019

A quick review of the Azores Nature trips this year. We've done two exploration trips this year, the June Azores Safari and the late August Birder's Pelagic. 

Both trips are running again next year so if you would like to book please email me on 

We are also currently finalising the 2016 Rare Bird Report and getting ready for Corvo 2019 too. Also rebuilding our website/social media platforms and getting ready for some exciting new projects in 2020 including underwater photography. 

Here's a few pictures and highlights (all photos by Vincent Legrand who led both trips this year). 


Spotted Dolphins 
View over Sao Miguel 
Azores Safari group 2019 (above and below) 

Sowerby's Beaked Whales 
Short-finned Pilot Whales 
Sperm Whale spy hopping 
Vincent came across this trapped Loggerhead Turtle which was successfully caught and released 

Risso's Dolphin 
Common Dolphins (above and below) 

Azores Safari 2019 sightings:

8 Short-finned Pilot Whales, 10 Risso's Dolphin, 100+ Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, 200+ Common Dolphin, 7+ Sperm Whale, 5 Sowerby's Beaked Whales, 1 Hammerhead Shark, 2 Loggerhead Turtle, 1 Sunfish, Azores Bullfinch, Azores endemic forms of Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Woodpigeon, Grey Wagtail and Blackbird, Atlantic Canary,  Cory's, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters and Azores Noctules. 


Monteiro's Petrel (Peter Alfrey) - identification indicated by moult of inner primaries compared to below bird which is fresh, either a juvenile hot season breeding bird or an adult cool season breeding bird (Grant's Petrel). 
Presumed Grant's Petrel 
Wilson's Petrel 
Great Shearwater 
Sooty Shearwater and Cory's Shearwater 
Bulwer's Petrel 
Sooty Tern 
 Sei Whales 
2019 Azores Pelagic Group 

Sightings from 2019 Pelagic

600+ Cory's Shearwater, 60 Great Shearwater, 5 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater, 7 Bulwer's Petrel, 12 Band-rumped Storm Petrel (at least 2 Monteiro's Storm Petrel), 15 Wilson's Storm Petrel, 15 Common Tern, 1 Sooty Tern, 3 Arctic Skua, 5 Azores Gull 

200+ Atlantic Spotted Dolphin, 3 Sei Whale, 1 Beaked Whale sp , 1 Manta Ray 

Unfortunately no Swinhoe's Storm Petrel this year. Previous years sightings below: 

Sunday 22 September 2019

Cracking little day in Oxfordshire

The good moth night forecast turned out to be correct with 44 species in the trap including a few migrants- Vestal and Diamond-backs. Also a nice selection of autumn species and a nice Dusky-Lemon Sallow.  Eleven new species for the Old Vicarage pan species list now on 664.

I popped into Farmoor in the late afternoon to see whether the rain storms had dropped any waders in. Had the two juvenile Ruff and three Dunlin that have been around. 

 Juvenile Ruffs (above and two below) 

 Juvenile Dunlins 
 First-winter, second-winter and adult Yellow-legged Gulls at Farmoor 
 First-winter Yellow-legged Gull 
 From left to right: Centre-barred Sallow, Rosy Rustic, Sallow, Frosted Orange, Barred Sallow, Canary-shouldered Thorn and Dusky-lemon Sallow
 Dusky-lemon Sallow (close up) 
 Grey Shoulder Knot 
 Brindled Green 
 Acleris cristana
 Eared Leafhopper (looks a nano-hippo) 
 I'm going for Beaded Chestnut on this (checked the hind wing and couldn't see the lunar mark) 
 and a couple of dark forms that I don't what they are, maybe a dark Turnip above and dark Square-spot Rustic below?