Wednesday 29 April 2020

Beddington Farmlands- Swift Storm!

The north east winds and rain swung round to a southerly last night. I arrived back in Hackbridge at about 2200 and I had Greenshank and Little Rings calling from the obs. The noc mig recordings picked up 2 Ringed Plover and LRP and Greenshanks calling through the night.  This morning it was evident there had been a small fall/ influx with 2 Greenshank, 1 Whimbrel, 1 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 2 LRP, 4 Common Sandpiper, the resident Lapwings and 1 Green Sandpiper but most impressive was a huge influx of 200+ Common Swift. Also good numbers of warblers around including 4 Lesser Whitethroats and 4 Sedge Warblers, 1 Whinchat and also 4 unseasonal Pochards. In the seasonal change of the guard, today was the first day this year that Teal has not been recorded and only 1 Shoveler left. I recorded 72 species today Ebird list here

 Common Sandpiper 
 Raven (above and below). This moulting bird (missing inner primaries) has been around for most of this year although is an occasional visitor and hasn't been seen in a few days. A moulting bird this time of year is presumably a non-breeding/second-calender year bird. 

 Young birds have begun to appear, Mallard chicks, Moorhens, Coots and also this very early Pied Wagtail. 
Doesn't really do it justice but an impression of the 200+ Swifts which were mainly concentrated over 100 acre. There's not many summer migrants that arrive in flocks of 200+.  
Greenshank and LRP calling from the obs last night. Sound file on Ebird here. Also noc-mig Ringed Plover recordings on link. 
 Ringed Plover calling at night (above) and Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover (below) calling together at dawn (recordings here

Monday 27 April 2020

Worminghall/ The Old Vicarage- nice haul

A busy day with results from the nocturnal recordings, the moth trap and birding on the air field. Airfield birding list HERE  and Curlew, Tawny Owl and Barn Owl on the nocturnal recording over last couple of night Sound files here (including an interesting repertoire of Tawny Owl calls).

Highlights of the day was the singing Yellow Wagtails, Corn Buntings and Skylarks on the airfiled, a couple of Common Terns there and a Cuckoo over the garden (also at the airfield in the evening).

 Male Yellow Wagtails holding territory and singing on the airfield (about four or five singing males)

 Only three Wheatears today, so presumably birds just passing through. 

 Swallow- since my last visit to the airfield just over a week ago there are more House Martins and Swallows, Lesser Whitethroats have now joined the Whitethroats in the hedges and the biggest surprise was these two Common Terns below flying around the small private pond 

 Common Terns

 Male Common Kestrel- the whole area looks great for raptors. I've been informed that traditionally the site was good for wintering Short-eared Owls and occasionally Hen Harriers. Three minutes walk from our house and I didn't even know ! 

 Red Kite

 Three or four Brown Hares were also out on the airfield today 

 The first Chocolate Tip for the Old Vic- the 700th garden species 

 Waved Umber- another first for the garden 

Swallow Prominents 

Sunday 26 April 2020

The Old Vicarage- Lime Hawk-moth

Had our first Lime Hawk-moth at the Old Vicarage. The pan-species list is now on 699. 

We went for a lockdown walk north of Wormingall today (across Lordie's land), an area of farmland which is managed for a pheasant shoot with areas of cover crops, rides and copses. Ebird list HERE. Several Lesser Whitethroats were singing in the hedges and also had a Grey Partridge and several Red-legged Partridge. 

 Lime Hawk-moth 
Another view of our food growing area- the broccoli should be ready in about a month times  
Jacob and Holly 
I've been camera trapping at night in the garden hoping for a badger. Holly thought this would be amusing which I discovered while going through the recordings this morning. 

Saturday 25 April 2020

The Old Vicarage- Eats shoots and leaves

Another day without leaving the Old Vicarage and another attempt to push the envelope even further- can we live off the land within the grounds? Can we simulate a real apocalypse? So we pretty much have all the kitchen garden full now with Broccoli, tomatoes, peas, runner beans, sweet corn, beetroot, cabbage, pumpkins, cucumber, radish and our seed potatoes have now arrived too. We are also planning on getting chickens. 

While we've been waiting for our food to grow we've been sourcing from local farms and also experimenting with wild food. I've yet to stand in a corona supermarket queue. Of course all anyone needs is Richard Mabey's classic book 'Food for Free'. We are still making our way through a large batch of nettle soup (which is delicious and also 2.3 % by weight of iron, 5.5% protein and high levels of vitamins A and C). Today I went foraging again and this time collected leaves of white-dead nettle, yellow archangel and ground elder which I cooked with butter and onion and was also delicious. I've also got ground ivy drying to make a tea from and also tried Hawthorn Leaves. Other options growing wild in the old vic garden this time of year is Garlic Mustard, Cow Parsley (which you can make a herb from), Dandelion leaves, Chickweed and there's even Watermint and Watercress growing in the brook. 

I'm hoping by the end of lockdown we can have at least one day where we are completely self sufficient. It will also be good to bring some permaculture, biodiversity/companion planting techniques into play but keen to learn as much from Holly's dad at the moment and get some well established food growing techniques under the belt. 

 The Nettle soup batch is still going down well 
 Ground Elder, White-dead Nettle and Yellow Archangel. I boiled the Ground Elder first and then everything went into a pan with butter and onion- delicious  
 We've got stacks of Rhubarb- Holly made some jam today 
 The Tomatoes (above), Runner Beans and Sweetcorn are coming along in the pots (below) 

The root vegetables and broccoli are out in the raised beds already

Friday 24 April 2020

Beddington Farmlands- Migrating Meds

It's been a good spring passage of Med Gulls across the region in the past few weeks and there have been several flocks and small groups passing over the farmlands which I've managed to miss but finally caught up with a single migrating adult today (thanks to Roger alerting me). There was also a flock of 8 others and 30+ Black-headed Gulls moving today (seen by others). 

The first Lesser Whitethroats arrived yesterday (also had one up at the Little Oak base on Little Woodcote) and today I heard one singing from the obs. 

A bit more in the moth trap last night with the year's first migrant Silver Y's and an unseasonal Lychnis. Its shaping up as a good season for Muslin moths. 

 Adult Mediterranean Gull- high over the obs
 Silver Y- good to see the first for year of this regular migrant to the farmlands 
Muslin moths (and Lychnis)- getting a run of these at the moment at both the Beddington obs and the Old Vicarage 

Thursday 23 April 2020

Beddington Farmlands- Green theme

Clear skies and a north-easterly wind continue and they seem to have blown out visible migration with not too much on the move today: Ebird list HERE . Highlights included 12 Swift, 11 Common Snipe flying around at dusk, 1 Red Kite, a few Swallows and Sand Martins, 2 Yellow Wagtails and an increase in the number of singing warblers including 6 Reeds, 5 Chiffs, 18 Blackcaps and 10 Whitethroat.

A Frosted Green in the trap, the year's first Shuttle-shaped Dart and a Brindled Pug provided a bit of interest on the moth front. Also a few Red Admirals on the wing.

 The clear unpolluted skies make a nice lighting on the roosting parakeets (every evening hundreds fly past my window to the Mitcham Common roost, about 500 today) 
 Frosted Green 

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Day at the Old Vicarage

Spent the day at home today working on the kitchen garden and doing a bit of garden birding. Had a garden tick- a Barn Owl on the nocturnal recording. Also did a bit of wild food foraging. 

 Stock Doves courting
 Carrion Crow pillaging local nests 
Barn Owl:  Sound file on Ebird HERE
 The Tomatoes are coming on well 
 We moved the broccoli out into the bed 
 Nettle soup ingredients
 Soften the veg
 Pour in the stock 
 Add the nettles 
 Blend and nettle soup below