Monday 31 August 2020

Beddington Farmlands- slogging away

It really feels like a slog at Beddington at the moment, a bit of ground hog day with no stand out rarities for ages with seemingly everyone and every site all around scoring. Ebird list from today HERE. 

The 9th Red-crested Pochard for the site found by Nick yesterday did not butter any parsnips for me either.

Still no mega moth either although there was a high proportion of migrants last night in a very small catch- L-album wainscot, Dewick's Plusia, Silver-Y and Diamond-back Moth . Strangely I had a Red Underwing flying around near Mile Road Bridge during the day which coincided with the end of National Moth Night which was a wash out for most but the Red/Crimson Underwings were the target of that.  

Just to cause me more comedic angst, Holly's non-birding and non-mothing friend found a 'small bird' in her garden - a couple of streets away from the Old Vicarage and sent me the photos- a Convolvolus Hawk-moth Pics here. I've been dreaming of one at the Old Vic! 

I think being stuck local (in this country!)  for so long is finally getting to me, last thing I needed to see was a post on twitter about low carbon birding advocating me being stuck here forever. I sort of lost the plot- Thread here. I've always found being stuck inland in the UK as a birder in autumn an awful torture and this year with the pandemic its becoming a nightmare. Here's a load of common boring dross which brought me some comfort today, seen them all countless times before but still appreciate them: 

Red-crested Pochard 
Whitethroat- pretty good numbers of passerines today
Lesser Whitethroat 
Swift - won't be long now before they're all gone 
Dewick's Plusia
L-album Wainscot
I presume this is a melanic Straw Underwing or perhaps a melanic Square-spot Rustic? 
Rusty-dot Pearl 

Sunday 30 August 2020

Birding Forecast, week beginning 30th August

Summary of week's weather: A light northerly will persist until Wednesday when a depression will move in from the west. A westerly airflow will then be established until at least the weekend. The jet stream will form a unbroken corridor across the North Atlantic. 

Light Northerlies over much of UK for early part of week 
A westerly airflow across upper North Atlantic by end of the week 

 Jet stream situation by end of week 

Birding Forecast

Local Birding/London: Early part of week is most promising with light northerlies and some easterlies over Scandinavia which could push passerine migrants into North Sea which in the light wind conditions could trickle down across a broad front and in land . With a westerly airflow established by mid-week there could be some channelling of migrants such as hirundines as they deflect back towards the continent. As the westerlies establish migration will dry up. 

Kent Coast Easterlies across parts of Scanadanavia could push migrants into the North Sea which could get channelled south in the light northerly so drift migrants are a possibility. The light northerly could also maintain the run of seabirds on the North Kent coast. As the westerly establishes later in the week and considering the extent of the jet stream an american wader or waterbird is an outside possibility. High arctic waders moving south will still push south so good chance of more juvenile Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint and Ruffs etc in the early part of the week. 

Elsewhere The westerly airflow, incoming depression and jet stream situation looks promising for american waders arriving in the west and also seawatching potential of west and south coasts. 

Birding Plan (if I had the chance to implement it all)
Monday: A bit of local birding to look for migrants in the light northerly airflow
Tuesday and Wednesday: North Kent coast to scour for migrants, seabirds and waders.
Thursday to Saturday: Locate to Cornwall for sea watching and looking for american waders. Tacumshin in Ireland would be another good place to look for american waders. 

Saturday 29 August 2020

Save the Lapwing walk - Beddington Farmlands


With a cold northerly blowing and threatening skies an intrepid few turned up for the Lapwing walk (including somebody from the Waste Industry that backed our hopes that it wasn't too late for Viridor to turn things round)  but across the Lapwing walk and the Extinction Rebellion protest at least 60 people were involved. Unfortunately on such a cold bank holiday Saturday not many public were using the park either but the day was a great success nonetheless in launching the Save the Lapwing campaign (and highlighting other Beddington Farmlands issues related to the incinerator). The Save the Lapwing campaign will run until next Spring when the Lapwings will or wont return to breed. More details HERE

Save the Lapwings campaign objectives

  1. Complete the restoration particularly Stages 1-3 of Wet Grassland habitat development aimed specifically at Lapwings. Timescale: within 12 months.
  2. Develop and implement a Lapwing habitat management plan for 100 acre and south east corner of Beddington Farmlands. Timescale: within 6 months.
  3. Develop and implement a lake water level plan to provide the correct water levels for breeding birds on the lakes to stop fox predation and provide habitat for post breeding flocks. Timescale: within three months

Here's a link to some biased journalism from the Daily Mail mentioning the peaceful family event  DAILY MAIL XR

Rather poignantly we didn't find any Lapwings on our Lapwing walk. However thanks to Roger we did have Great White Egret, Peregrine and Hobby.

Here's a few images of the day.

The public hides where today due to lack of correct water level management there were no Lapwings 
The Beddington Farmlands target species graveyard- see video below for more details 
Lapwing die in 
Police were guarding the incinerator  (what a waste of public money fuelled by the hard right wing press that demonises local people calling for corporate accountability and responsibility)  

Friday 28 August 2020


Lapwings are an increasingly rare and charismatic species and provides one of the main attractions to the nature reserve along with other exciting wildlife. Other nature reserves in London provide huge economic benefits to local communities. The London Wetland Centre attracts 250,000 visitors a year, provides jobs and brings in huge health and well being nature based solutions to local communities through providing an escape from urban stresses, nature watching, photography, walking, cycling and all kinds of outdoor activities – all of that provides jobs and builds community.

The Lapwings are the last of the rare and charismatic species left at Beddington Farmlands after delays in restoration and building an incinerator in the nature reserve have caused the local extinction of our other local special wildlife such at the Tree Sparrows, Yellow Wagtails, Redshanks and other species. 90% of all our special willdife has been destroyed by Viridor and Sutton Council.

If the Lapwings go, our final star attraction will be lost and we will have no special species left to attract visitors from far and wide.

Don’t let multi-billion pound company Viridor and rather useless Sutton Council (who let them get away literally with murder (of wildlife) get away with destroying the chance of a premier urban nature reserve in the Hackbridge/Beddington area for the wider London Borough of Sutton and Wandle Valley Regional Park. Wildlife, jobs and local community is at stake.

This is our last chance!

More details and booking instructions HERE

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Day in Kent- Purple Heron

 I really must just move to Kent. Another cracking day. Kojak and I started off at Oare Marshes Ebird list here  and finished off the other side of the Swale at Shellness/North Swale Nature Reserve (additional/ noteworthy species HERE )

Highlights included at least 5 Curlew Sandpipers (including two adults at Oare), Arctic Skua there and at North Swale we twitched the juvenile Purple Heron and also had Wood Sandpiper and Eider. Also Whimbrels migrating over, over 1500 Curlews on the salt marsh at Shellness, 25 Grey/Common Seals on Horse Sands and stacks of other waders. 

Juvenile Purple Heron- been present about a week and gets up and starts flying round at about 7pm. It first started calling and seemed to be 'talking' (calling to each other) to a nearby Grey Heron

After calling to each other for about 10 minutes they both got up and flew around but eventually the Purple Heron headed off towards Elmley and seemed to go down opposite Oare marshes. 

This Great Black-backed Gull versus an Eel versus a Grey Heron and Lesser Black-backed Gull was a bit of action at Oare (above and below) . Eventually the Great Black-backed Gull swallowed the eel whole.

Tuesday 25 August 2020

The Old Vicarage- slow weekend

 Another very slow, boring but rather relaxing weekend at the Old Vicarage. Once again couldn't muster up the energy to get out in the field in south west winds inland in August. Did a bit on the mini-farm and some moth trapping. The mini-farm is coming along well with some things coming to an end - we dug out the potatoes, planted spring onions where the beetroots were, got an endless supply of courgettes and marrows and there are 10 pumpkins doing well too for later. The sugar snap peas are over now, the sweet corn got blown over, the runner beans are still going, tomatoes are producing with lots more to come, radishes are going over, carrots still coming and we've ordered some winter potatoes that should be ready for xmas. 

On the moth front its getting rather autumnal- lots of Setaceous Hebrew Characters, Vine's Rustic, Large Yellow Underwings, Square-spot Rustics and overall the diversity is quite low although today its very wet and windy so I had to bring the trap in at midnight. 

My brother Steve is away for the whole of September so I'll be captaining the business on my own so will have to stay in London for next month so won't be back to the Old Vic until October. Once Steve is back my plan is to take the whole of October off and see if I can find some rare birds and moths. 

What with the European travel rules constantly changing and restrictions not sure I'm going to get to either the Azores or Bulgaria this year. Will be my first time in 20 years that I haven't visited the Azores.  

The mini-farm looking a bit wind swept and autumnal (above and below) 
Planning on bringing a few more biodiversity features into the mini-farm next year with some permaculture guilds and companion planting and also hope to plant up a butterfly shrub and herbaceous border in another part of the garden - which will be a winter project. Still want to find 1000 species in the garden (on 781 at the moment) . 
A nice haul of potatoes from the ground sown batch 
Bryan got some cucumbers going in the green house which are coming along well 
The Spring onions have gone in 
I believe this is Evening Deadly Nightshade, which even though a pan-species tick for the garden is probably better to get rid of considering we have pets and children  
Mouse moth- don't get many of these here
Small Square Spot- these and Flounced Rustic seem to be having a good season 
A well marked Agriphila geniculea 
Had this at the Beddington obs on the way out on Saturday morning- still working on it, maybe a Agonopterix sp or something like a Parsnip moth (left my books at home) 

Monday 24 August 2020

Thursday 20 August 2020

Tice's Meadow

It was great to finally visit Tice's Meadow Nature Reserve yesterday, a flagship local bird group run nature reserve . Ebird list HERE. Highlight's included 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Little Ringed Plover, Green and Common Sandpipers and 5 Yellow Wagtail. 

Ringed and Little Ringed Plover 
 Had this distinctive and contrasting juvenile gull which I suspected might have some influence from the east

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Campaign Update

*Important Note: I've received some feedback on this post and been advised to clarify what I'm saying here. Just to clarify:

Viridor are creating the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve and Viridor have recently been acquired by a company called KKR and Co Inc, an enormous company with over $545 billion worth of enterprise value and one of the owners is the 317th richest person in the world.  Within such an organisation Beddington Farmlands is a microscopic consideration, so small that we could be invisible and our ethical and moral considerations may be beyond the sight of the owners and the organisation (this is what I meant by my first opening line- I used the word ammoral (incorrectly spelt too) in the context of a particular meaning (of which there are several meanings like most words some being contrynms which have completely opposite meanings such as bolt which means both to fasten down and also to leg it) . That meaning was the meaning of being unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something- and particularly in our context this lack of concern was potentially due to our microscopic size within such a large organisation. The term superhuman was a term I used from the book Homo Deus by Jewish writer Yuval Noah Harari (a DAVOS speaker who speaks to World Leaders) , who refers to the evolution of a global elite/oligarchy . I use this in the positive sense, I'm no superhuman but I do wish to be ruled by ones that are benevolent and consider our concerns. 

Only by making our ethical and moral considerations known can we bring our concerns to the vision of KKR- the super company and the super humans behind it. Most large companies work on a reactive basis where problems are invisible to them until complaints or protests/demonstrations bring them to attention. It's like we are pain receptors and need to communicate that pain to the brain. Only then is there a choice to address the ethical and moral implications. Until then there is indifference (maybe that is a better word than amoral?)  

Another point I raised in this post was that wikidpedia lists the owners of KKR as being from jewish families and are cousins. Now to be honest and I hope I don't get into trouble for this, I thought that was a great positive as the potential of a religious and spiritual aspect to this could be beneficial to this. Now I may well get into even more trouble now by saying, if 'we' were now owned by a Chinese company or a Russian Company with Putin connections or a Colombian company quite frankly I would have been overcome with prejudice and panic and literally thought our situation was now completely hopeless- I know that's unfair but as usual I'm being completely honest on here.

So I had a good chat with the Jewish Greens (part of the Green Party) about this matter and I've been advised to research whether this Jewish aspect is something that is even relevant to our situation. For it to be relevant there would need to be a trickle down of that ethos through the company and the companies they own and it would be wise not to jump to any conclusions before we do that research. The fact that the owners have religious connections could be of no relevance to us at all. At the moment it is just a hope in our overall rather hopeless situation. Indeed I agree with that 100% so will research the matter thoroughly. 

Also there is a bit of mis-leading information in my comments section- the Forbes report I link to was from 2010 when 40 of the top 100 billionaires in the US (not the world) were Jewish. That could be more or less today and I should have said 10 years ago and not within the last 10 years. Nonetheless they are an extremely successful minority, no doubt down to a strong spiritual and community setting which could be a benefit to us locally especially if we get the backing by members of that community. 

I'm also aware that making our concerns known and addressed when dealing with a large organisation does involve a good democratic spirit and to adopt a strong respectful contesting position- this is why i used the word opponent. In the positive/democratic/debating sense. 

Well I hope that clears that up, I was a bit ambivalent / neutral in my original post because I didn't want to draw too much attention to my positive excitement that we are not owned by the Chinese, Russians or Colombians! Sorry!!  

Here is the original post:

A couple of bits of big news on this front, the first is good news the second bit is into the realms of ammoral all powerful superhumans beyond good and evil, right or wrong, good or bad.  

The good news is that Beddington Farmlands now has a new nature reserve warden, a guy called Charlie who has come over from Walthomstow wetlands. Bless him, I'm not sure he knows he has walked straight into the battle for middle earth South London style.

The second bit of news  is that Viridor have been brought by the 317th richest man in the world and his partners MORE HERE and profile of KKR HERE . These guys are Jewish global oligarchs HERE and HERE , multi billionaires and like most billionaires they have been getting richer and richer thanks to the pandemic. It's such a small world that we should now have superhuman opponents involved in our patch campaign! 

So this is a real game changer, we've gone up a level and this is level boss. We now have a real shot at 'changing the world' if we win the Battle for Beddington Farmlands. The odds for us have got even worse! 

Following the final extirpation of our Tree Sparrows this year, the next species on the extinction block are our Lapwings. With 100 acre and south east corner being decommissioned and the wet grassland being delayed by nearly 10 years, we are fast running out of habitat for this surviving population. This will be the final iconic species, we've lost Yellow Wagtails, Redshank, Reed Bunting and out of ten target breeding species, all but one species (Reed Warbler) have failed  (Little Ringed Plover showed some signs of recovery this year) so we have to throw everything at saving them. 

Extinction Rebellion groups from across South London are demonstrating on 29th August to highlight the plight of the Lapwings and we are also organising other public events to bring this to public attention. If anything if sadly it comes to it we want this final extinction event to be in the full public gaze, an example of an ecocide at the hands of billionaires and their facilitators (the council, corporations, malleable community members and consultants). It would be good if we can stop it before it comes to that so will be throwing literally everything at this. Hopefully we can escalate this fast to a national extinction rebellion issue. We need rapid escalation- we've potentially only got six or seven months to ensure there is breeding habitat for them next Spring. 

The Old Vicarage

A pretty quiet long weekend at the Old Vicarage. Things are getting more autumnal in the moth trap. Spent most of the weekend sorting out the garden and catching up with reading so not really much to report. 

Pied Smudge, Ypsolopha sequella
Small Sqaure Spot- the second generation appearing now 
Orange Swift
 Angle shades- not had many of these this year 

Friday 14 August 2020

Beddington Farmlands August Heatwave Roundup

 I'm no longer wiping the sweat from eyes while trying to photograph micomoths so as far as I'm concerned the heatwave is over- its still 25 C during the day and above 15 C at night but that is a 10 C drop from most of the last two weeks.

So the final scoreboard was 173 moth species/taxa and 11 butterflies. Full list HERE. Thanks a lot for everyone's help and comments especially Billy, Edward and Stewart- much appreciated as been hectic while working full time too. 

Additions from last night was the first Rush Veneer of the year and the night before there was Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix and a Coptotriche sp. Also last night Dark Sword Grass and four Silver Ys. 

On the bird front, 2 Hobbys and 1 Peregrine from the window yesterday, a Kingfisher flew past the obs window too (a garden tick) and there's a few Lesser Whitethroats about. There's been a fall of waders in Surrey this morning (mainly at Tice's Meadow) so there might be some waders on the lakes- not sure if any has checked, will try and get over there this evening. 

Chequered Fruit Tree Tortrix and Coptotriche sp
Rush Veneer- so unfortunately no mega migrant but some good dispersal moths, the highlight being the Scarce Oak Knot-horns ( a site first) which may be breeding in the county. Migrant wise there were the usual suspects of Rusty-dot Pearl, Dark Sword Grass, Rush Veneer, Diamond-back Moth and Silver Y with lots of Turnips and White-points too.