Wednesday 30 October 2019

Vis mig and late autumn moths

I met up with Tank today and we did some vis migging at Beddington. Ebird list HERE. Highlights were 3 Brambling in the sacrificial crops, 1 Pintail, 200+ Redwing, 100+ Fieldfare and 4 Stonechats.

A bit of a quiet weekend in Oxfordshire and unfortunately didn't get out (family visit on Sunday and catching up with work). Did get the moth trap out on Monday night and had a Dark Chestnut (new for the Old vic) and a few Bricks. 

 Fieldfare on the Southern Mound 
 Dark Chestnut at the Old Vic
Brick at the Old Vic

Tuesday 29 October 2019

State of Nature Report 2019


State of Nature report 2019: loss of nature since 1970

  • 15 per cent of species under threat of extinction and 2 per cent of species have already gone for good
  • Average abundance of wildlife has fallen by 13 per cent with the steepest losses in the last ten years 
  • 41 per cent of UK species studied have fallen and 133 species have already been lost from our shores 
  • Butterflies and moths, down 17 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. Numbers of high brown fritillary and grayling butterflies, have fallen by more than three quarters 
  • The average amount of mammals has fallen by 26 per cent and the wild cat and greater mouse-eared bat are almost extinct

Saturday 26 October 2019

A few autumn moths from Beddington

It's been hitting the ground running since I got back from Corvo. On the way home I attended the BTO Marsh Awards, next day was straight back to work quoting and then yesterday was catching up with admin. I couldn't get out birding but did manage to get the moth trap on with a few interesting moths. 

Things are still happening on Corvo. To follow late autumn developments including ringing of vagrants see  HERE.

 If I'm not mistaken a Clancy's Rustic which I believe is a first for the farmlands 
 Chestnut- a new for year 
 Large Wainscot, Red-line Quaker and Blastobasis lacticolella 
Yellow-line Quaker 

Wednesday 23 October 2019

The Marsh Awards

I've been nominated for the BTO Marsh Award for Local Ornithology and the event is tonight at the Mall Galleries in London. 

A bit of blurb in the facebook box below. 

Monday 21 October 2019

Corvo 2019- Days six and seven

Unfortunately it was my last day on Corvo today and I'm now at Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, en route to London tomorrow.  Yesterday was very quiet, Vincent and I covered a lot of the south of the island and we didn't see anything of note except the Alpine Swift. Despite our fruitless efforts in unfavourable conditions (south winds and sun) a Philadelphia Vireo and Blackpoll were found by other birders. The highlight yesterday was Pierre-Andre Crochet's evening talk 'Chasing 900 species in the Western Palearctic'. 

Another fruitless search this morning and then the plane to Sao Miguel. Pierre and I checked the harbour at Ponta Delgada, 2 Cattle Egret and a Glossy Ibis were the only birds of note.

So, a relatively quiet week on Corvo but luckily I still got a WP and Azores lifer- the Hermit Thrush. Seems like autumn happened early this year with some absolute mega birds all before 7th October. Next year I'm planning a change of tactics and am intending to wait for good weather conditions  and then travel ahead of the forecasts rather than booking ahead in the peak period. I've had three quiet autumns (2014, 2016 and now 2019) in 15 years and the longer I go on the more difficult it will be to see new birds so exploring a tactical change seems a good idea. 

 Cattle Egrets in Ponta Delgada 
 Alpine Swift on Corvo 
 Pierre-Andre Crochet delivering his excellent talk ' Chasing 900 birds in the Western Palearctic'
 The Western Palearctic List (as per Netfugl, following IOC taxonomy and Cramp and Simmons boundaries) is comprised of 681 regular breeding species, 308 vagrants and 41 Category C birds (1030 in total). Pierre has seen 885 species in the WP (Rankings Here) and is No 1 man in the WP listing game. I've only seen 585 species and am in 245th position! However I would call myself a casual WP lister and besides as I do world birding and mainly focus on bird finding and birding projects rather than listing I've seen most of the birds on the WP list elsewhere in the world. So my false WP list Rankings Here) is a more respectable 892 and so I'm in 53rd position in the world for having seen most species that are on the WP list (but not necessarily within the WP boundaries). I would like to eventually see all the species on the WP list but not necessarily competitively, more casually. However I very much enjoy following the guys who are competing with each other- very good entertainment. 
Corvo Birders (and mostly WP listers) at Pierre's talk 

Corvo 2019- Day 5

Despite the unfavourable wind conditions a few more American birds were discovered today (19th October), a single Dickcissel in Upper Lapa and a Scarlet Tanager in Tennessee Valley both found by Marcin Solowiej and a Lesser Yellowlegs and White-rumped Sandpiper in the Caldera. A Meadow Pipit also found today in the Caldera is a rarer species on Corvo than the new american species.

 Indigo Bunting (Vincent Legrand) 
Hermit Thrush (Vincent Legrand) 

Other species still present include:
 1 North Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Indigo Bunting (Poco d'agua), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (Pico),  1 Blue-winged Teal, 1 Glossy Ibis, 2 Pink-footed Goose (Caldera), 1 Alpine Swift (village) and 1 Pomarine Skua (Channel)

Saturday 19 October 2019

Corvo 2019- Day Four

Today (18th October) the only new arrival was from Europe, a juvenile Alpine Swift, only the second record for Corvo and 14th for the Azores. However there were still a nice selection of american birds on the island with the Hooded Warbler still in Do Vinte, the Yellow Warbler still in the same area as yesterday, the Hermit Thrush still showing well in Fojo, the female Northern Parula at the Lighthouse Valley, the Indigo Bunting at Poco d'Agua, 3 Red-eyed Vireos (2 in Da Ponte and 1 in Pico), the Northern Harrier still quartering the sides of the caldera and the two Semipalmated Plover still on the airfield. 

The weather is not looking particularly good over the next few days for new american arrivals but anything is possible on Corvo.  

Male Hooded Warbler- this bird has been present for nearly two weeks, it was first found at the campsite in the village and then relocated to Do Vinte where photographs showed that details of the throat pattern confirmed it as the same bird. (Vincent Legrand) 
Yellow Warbler, a different bird to the male in the village tamarisks. This bird is duller, not as green and lacks orange streaks on the breast (Vincent Legrand) 
The Hermit Thrush again at Fojo. The pale tips to the median coverts is a feature that other catharus thrushes do not show. (Vincent Legrand) 

Alpine Swift- for many this was the bird of the day; An Azores tick! (Vincent Legrand) 

Friday 18 October 2019

Corvo 2019 days two to three

Highlight since the last post was a Hermit Thrush found by Paul French. A Western Palearctic lifer for many birders and also for top WP birder Pierre-Andre Crochet and only the 4th record for the Azores. Other new birds included an Indigo Bunting on 16th October and possibly a new Yellow Warbler on 17th.

A Barnacle Goose on 16th was a Corvo/Azores tick for many birders, with only 13 previous records on the Azores. This species is a national rarity for Portugal. 

25+ Short-finned Pilot Whales were off Lighthouse Valley on 17th. 

 Hermit Thrush (above and below) (Vingent Legrand)

Female Northern Parula (Vincent Legrand) 
Bobolink (Vincent Legrand) 
Barnacle Goose (Peter Alfrey) 
Short-finned Pilot Whales

Daily Logs: 

16th October
1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Cliff Swallow, 1 Bobolink (near da Ponte), 1 Indigo Bunting (Poco d'Agua), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (Pico), 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Barnacle Goose (in Channel), 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Lapland Bunting, 1 Snow Bunting 

17th October
1 Yellow Warbler (Lapa), 1 Northern Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Buff-bellied Pipit, 2 Red-eyed Vireo (Da Ponte), 1 Northern Harrier, 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Barnacle Goose, 4 Snow Bunting 

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Corvo 2019 - Day One

I'm back on Corvo for my 15th consecutive year.

It's already been another incredible autumn with Cape May, Chestnut-sided and Prothonotary Warbler and on the neighbouring island of Flores there has been a Connecticut Warbler. The Prothonotary and Connecticut are firsts for the Western Palearctic so once again there doesn't seem to be abatement in new species being recorded each autumn.  There's also been a couple of Green Darners- first records for the Azores as far we know.

I arrived yesterday and today has been very wet and stormy, all I've seen is the two Semipalmated Plovers that have been on the airfield.

As I'll be doing the Corvo community blog over the next week, I'll just copy that over to here over the next few days or you can follow it directly on the links below.

 Connecticut Warbler (Thijs Valkenburg)  
Female Green Darner (Paul French) 

Sunday 13 October 2019


To order a copy please email

£8 plus P & P 

Saturday 12 October 2019

Friday 11 October 2019

Extinction Rebellion on Question Time

Interesting and balanced debate on Question Time last night about Extinction Rebellion , represented by :


Thursday 10 October 2019

XR London Protests Autumn 2019

A fascinating day up town yesterday joining in with the Extinction Rebellion London Uprising. Here's a few pics. 
The Red Brigade 
Thousands of radical protesters are involved , which has overwhelmed police forces and Westminster and Whitehall are currently completely shut down 
A 'crusty' getting taken to the slammer 
Our future in the coffins (two interpretations of this maybe, both the future of the planet and the future of these martyrs once they get their criminal records) 
Police reinforcements have been called in from across London and beyond and officers are working overtime. Police resources are over stretched. It was announced yesterday that the Met Police will be recruiting thousands more police over the next few years in a major recruitment drive after spending the last seven years cutting them 
On looking passers-by 
There is both a spiritual and demonic atmosphere about the place- like all things everywhere

Tourists trying to compute what is going on with scenes occurring such as below: 

A brave banker walking through the protests
Rozzers overhead 
'Peter and Mary' put in the usual appearance 
XR have got the police blocking the roads for them! 
Our local protest on Tuesday to coincide with the Beddington Farmlands petition hearing. A van full of local rozzers were there to meet us just in case the two kids, their mother, a gran, Leonard, Mark and John and me decided to storm the civic officers and declare complete subjugation and dominion over the local authority  

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Beddington Farmlands Petition Hearing Meeting

Last night, Sutton Council's, Housing, Economy and Business Committee heard the Public Petition that called on the council to take enforcement action on Viridor to deliver the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve as per planning obligations. The petition was signed by over 6500 people and was delivered by the Wandle Valley Forum (that represents over 130 community groups within the Wandle Valley Regional Park). 

The meeting was held at the Sutton Civic Offices and meeting attendees were greeted by a small Extinction Rebellion Sutton demonstration outside and a van full of Policemen who were keeping an eye on the Extinction Rebellion Protesters. Due to Extinction Rebellion focusing on the London Protests this week, a small group were dispatched for this meeting, which was also appropriate considering this was a chance to deal with some technicalities and details and have an in depth discussion about the issues. 

The meeting started with Councillor Nick Mattey 'the Rottweiler of Beddington North', asking the Committee Chair, Jane McCoy to stand down from the committee due to a lack of independence considering Councillor McCoy's role as a director of the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust and that connection with the Council's business interests with Viridor.  The Chair was advised by her constitutional adviser that a declaration of interest was sufficient.  

Following a speech from Lysanne (The Wandle Valley Forum Vice-Chair), Sutton Council's Head of Planning made some comments and after that Viridor's, Head of Sustainability Dan Cooke provided a response to the petition and finally councillors asked various questions.

The committee acknowledged the delays on the restoration and I had an opportunity to remind the committee of the significant ecological harm that those delays had caused.  Overall everyone in attendance supported the completion of the reserve and there was an acknowledgement by the Head of Planning that their enforcement team were working hard behind the scenes to discharge planning conditions. There was also an acknowledgement by the Chair that Sutton Council and local people had serious trust issues with Viridor and that Viridor needed to regain that trust. A decision was made to not take legal action but instead to call back Viridor to the Committee in six months time for a review of progress and then to call them back on regular basis until the project is completed and if the project is not completed by December 31st 2023 (the final deadline for completion with the planning condition) then legal action will be taken.

So overall probably the best outcome we could hope for. A good result and looking forward to seeing rapid progress of the restoration (they only have four years to catch up with a seven year delay and complete the whole project) and also hoping to rebuild our relationship with the council and Viridor and for us to help out as much as possible so that we can deliver a flagship urban nature reserve as a Local Community- Corporate- Government alliance.   

Monday 7 October 2019


An absolutely amazing start to Corvo 2019. Presumably gripped off birders have reported our blog to facebook for breaching community standards (usually reserved for racist and violent content) so cant share the link directly on social media anymore. Perhaps Facebook have introduced a new violation of community standards- too gripping :-).  So to follow the Corvo blog, click HERE

 Prothonotary Warbler- a first for the Western Palearctic (Paul French)
 Cape May Warbler - a first for Azores (Peter Stronach)
Chestnut-sided Warbler, a 2nd for the Azores (Peter Stronach)