Tuesday 29 September 2020

Bits and bobs at Beddington

Spent the weekend on the south coast looking into getting a holiday home/coastal birding base. Turns out it's not cheap and as far as I can work out it's cheaper to rent than buy. We first checked out Hastings area and then the Selsey Peninsula, for logistical reasons looks like Selsey area is best place. What with family commitments, awful weather and home hunting ironically didn't get any birding done (had good numbers of House Martins along the coast and a flock of Siskin going over) and the only birding I've done is at Beddington when I got back and another visit this evening. Ebird lists HERE and HERE

Highlights included 3 Golden Plover heading north yesterday evening, 3 Lesser Redpoll flushed by a Sparrowhawk, a juvenile Shelduck, Common and Green Sandpiper showing really well from the wet grassland hide and this evening there were 4 Stonechat, 1 Whinchat and a flock of Swallow overhead. 

New for years in the moth trap were Deep-brown Dart and Beaded Chestnut and a nice selection of autumn moths including Large Wainscot, Dewick's Plusia, L-album Wainscot (3 again last night), Blair's Shoulder Knot, Ruby Tiger, Lunar Underwings, Angle Shades, Square-spot Rustics, Diamond-back Moth, Dusky Thorn, Barred Sallows, Pink-barred Sallows and Sallows etc

Here's a few pics. My laptop literally blew up over the weekend so I've got a new one and trying out the free photo editing software. 

Juvenile Common Sandpiper 
Golden Plovers flying over 
Juvenile Shelduck
Whinchat (above ) and Stonechat (below). Steve Gale has been recording large numbers of Stonechats on the North Downs nearby recently.

First-winter Whinchat
I'm going for Beaded Chestnut (rather than a Lunar Underwing)?

Friday 25 September 2020

Hackbridge Hero

 I've got this whole weekend booked to look for a property on the south coast so that I can move out of this area and let the place go to the dogs. So I'm packing everything up and then this- I win a Hackbridge hero award HACKBRIDGE HERO.  Ok, its not a nobel peace prize and to be honest its got to be the most down to earth and heart warming award I've ever won. The council are cunts (they just are), viridor are just doing what they do (which is destroy the planet- someone has to or else evolution couldn't work) and the bird group is mainly middle class people that don't live in this area and their middle class wealth is built on propping up the the corridors of power (the likes of Viridor and the Council) and exploiting areas like Hackbridge. I guess I was never going to get the support of the people in power- their power is based on exploitation, so a community vision where power is shared out and we build a local community for people, planet and wildlife was delusional.  A negative result in science however is a positive result as we begin to eliminate possibilities and begin to converge on the solution. 

I've tried many times to reach out to the local community of Hackbridge, I've arranged nature walks that people couldn't get out of bed for , stood as a local councillor and got about 3% of the vote, endlessly promote the farmlands, local wildlife and nature based activities on social media, helped write the neighbourhood plan, have organised local volunteer groups and carried out local improvements. In short it seemed that nobody locally gave a flying fuck or even noticed. Most of the interest for Beddington Farmlands was coming from middle class areas of South London- a poisoned interest. 

However, it appears that there is a growing group of 'Real People' that is rising up in Hackbridge now. I don't mean self righteous middle class do-gooders, or wealthy activists getting their tits out for nature, churches and consultancies funded by corporations trading gestures for greenwash or the community traps (like writing neighbourhood plans that take seven years to get through all the hoops ) that the council set or politicians that deal in the capitalisation and exploitation of expectations and hopes,  I mean real people (decorators, mums, builders, small business poeple etc) waking up and beginning to see that they can make a difference, that they are the solution to everything. 

I've won University Prizes, nominations from the BTO awards, I'm a Master of Science, A Bachelor of Science, I've won awards for environmental excellence- they are a load of fucking shit as my objectives to build a business and to be part of a community that existed to put People, Wildife and Planet first has completely failed. Those awards were nominated by Unsustainable Power Houses. The Hackbridge Hero award is the first award I've ever received from where the sustainable future will come from - from Real Poeple who will overthrow established Unsustainable Power- because they have to, to survive. 

Thursday 24 September 2020

Wage slave moths

 My brother (and business partner) Steve, decided to take five weeks off during September which has meant I've had to run the tree and garden business on my own which has meant little time to go birding and more time to plan my early retirement and escape route. I've been burning as many bridges as I can at Beddington Farmlands to make sure I do move away and there's no going back now.  I told the Sutton Biodiversity officer to go fuck himself and called the bird group a bunch of useless listing fucks- that should do the trick! I've left the bird group and dumped all the reports. I might do a dirty protest at the incinerator and council offices to make sure I get completely banned. 

I've handed over everything over that I can and as far as I'm concerned everything is on the right path now anyway, the warden is here, we are going to get some bits of decent habitat  comprising at least 200 acres including the lakes, the 'wet grassland' (which I presume will revert to scrape), meadows and woodland edge, few of the target species will feature but maybe a couple of pairs of Lapwing and LRP might hang in there. The HEB six month scrutiny of Viridor offers an opportunity for any concerned residents to express to a top tier council committee. So it's all as much as anyone can hope for- crumbs from the capitalist's table being scavenged by desperate de-humanised drones and some generalist biodiversity and invasive species . Quite frankly I can't be bothered to sit through the bitter end of Viridor clearing planning conditions and re-visioning from an ambitious and inspiring ecological vision to a lack lustre dystopic shadow with the council taking their pound of flesh for it and using local community poodles to dig their own graves. Nothing can stop that unfortunately. Its not too bad, in a more enlightened future (once civil war or waves of pandemics, societal breakdown, chaos and suffering wake people up), there will be a refugia for wildlife to recover from and that's all we could have achieved anyway- a small ark to ride out the coming storm. In the meantime I'm moving myself and my family to high ground.

Anyway despite the bridge burning (to not just stop me coming back but also to stop them coming after me ) and being stuck running the business as a capitalist slave, the moth catching has been quite interesting this week. Here's a few of the highlights.

L-album Wainscot and Sallow. Interesting to read that L-album Wainscot has only recently been recorded for the first time in Bucks (where Holly lives). They have been daily here for nearly a month and been getting them for several years. So interesting how restricted the range is on some of these moths and also the temperature island we have in the city of London which provides very local conditions for some species of moth to thrive. 
Black Rustic - such a dark velvety enigmatic mini-beast, the contrasting white underwings makes it an absolute stunner! 
Another L-album Wainscot 
Blair's Shoulder Knot 
Large Rannunclus 
Large Wainscot 

Sunday 20 September 2020

Beddington Farmlands- a few migrants

 Walked round with Steve Gale today. Ebird list HERE. 65 species, the highlights included 3 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Siskin, 1 Whinchat, 3 Stonechat (presumed family party) , 10 Meadow Pipit, 1 Reed Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 25+ Chiffchaff, 6 Little Egret, 14 Wigeon (an influx), 1 Pintail, 1 Red-crested Pochard, 4 Green Sandpiper, 3 Snipe and a Peregrine. 

The moth trap was pretty quiet last night- highlights included 2 Dewick's Plusia, 1 L-album Wainscot (both these previously rare species have been present daily in last two or three weeks) , a Lunar Underwing and the usual species for this time of year- Square-spot Rustics, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Vine's Rustic, Pale Mottled Willow etc .

First-winter Whinchat
Adult male Stonechat
Reed Warbler
Wigeon and other waterfowl- a noteable influx of Wigeon today 

Saturday 19 September 2020

A few autumn moths at Beddington Farmlands

Here's a few autumn moths from this week. A few new for years taking this year's Beddington moth list to 334.

Pink-barred Sallow 
Barred Sallow
Brindled Green
Scarce Silver Lines 
Acleris laterana/comoriana
Black Rustic 

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Sheppey, Kent- American Golden Plover

 I don't even know why I bother birding inland. Another day on Sheppey today, we started off at Leysdown Country Park, then did the high tide at Shellness, then we checked out Warden Point and after lunch at Leysdown (Cockney capital of the Planet Earth, where I had Jellied Eels, Cockles, Whelks, Dressed Grab and Gypsy Tart) we did Capel Fleet. 

Highlights included the long staying adult American Golden Plover at Shellness, a Short-eared Owl in off the Swale, double figures of Gannets in the Swale, 40+ Common Scoter, a Whinchat, about 50 Sandwich Tern in the Swale, 10 Common Tern there and the wader roost spectacle of 1000+ Curlew and 2000+ Oystercatcher. 

Also appeared that someone has let the Red-legged Partridges out for the shooting season- there were hundreds of them out by Harty Ferry. Surprisingly very few hirundines (only one flock of Swallow), a big influx of Teal at Capel Fleet since two weeks ago (200+ today) and Kojak and I have still to see a Wheatear this autumn. 

Kojak's account and Ebird lists HERE

Adult American Golden Plover within a flock of 388 Golden Plover
Short-eared Owl- came in off the sea 
Just a few of the Curlew roost at Shellness
Kestrel showing well
Wall Brown- a few of these on the cliffs near Warden Point. Also a few Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters. Loads of Ivy Bees around. Other butterflies included Large White, Speckled Woods and Red Admiral. 
View back towards Leysdown from Warden Point- a famous landslip area and also one of the best sites in the UK for fossil birds (from the Eocene) 

Sunday 13 September 2020

Beddington Farmlands, Great White Egret

 Nick and Gripper found a Great White Egret on the North Lake this evening so I popped over to twitch it. Also 2 Wigeon, 2 Green Sandpiper, 2 Snipe, 1 Kingfisher and the Red-crested Pochard. 

Great White Egret (above and below) 

Kingfisher (above and below) 

Saturday 12 September 2020

The Big Suppression ?

I presume like most people approaching 50 years old (2022), the milestone is a cause for reflection and comparing ambition to success to date and perhaps re-setting targets and even accepting limitations. In other words taking that necessary step closer to giving up on all your dreams and dying. 

One ambition I had was to do a public duty and to champion the creation of the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. It was my local patch where I had discovered birding so seemed like no better cause. As it was a community goal to be delivered by a stakeholder group (an open mic situation) that wasn't achieving very much I decided to appoint myself. At the time I had recently become single and part of that breakup was due to different values- basically I didn't want to go down the road of making loads of money and lording it up over my fellow peasants. I guess I was quite philosophical and was willing to pay a high price for it (she was fucking gorgeous and sexy)- there must be more to life than just individualism. I decided the best thing I could do is go back to where I was brought up and try and make that area a better place to be and at the centre of that was the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. It seemed like a good idea. It seemed like the right thing to do.

In that time I have successfully achieved the following:

1) Published the book, the Birds of Beddington Farmlands which a Birdwatch review described as a local bird group bench mark. The objective here was to a have a complete published avifauna of the site to build further research and an ornithological community on.

2) Resurrected the local bird and wildlife report and re-designed and re-vamped it, expanded its remit to cover other taxa in addition to birds and also to include papers, analysis and conservation updates. I've edited and published this report since 2012. The objective here was to consolidate all the data from on going surveys to guide the restoration of the site and to form a nucleus for bird group members and ecologists to feed into it and build a community hub.

3) Conducted, coordinated and collected species inventories on site for a wide range of taxa including birds, moths and butterflies, mammals, plants and other groups. That species inventory is currently on approx 2500 species. 

4) Carried out intensive surveys on various taxa of the site, particularly moth recording. I even bought a flat over looking the site so that I be recording non-stop. Found loads of new species for the site from that 'obs'. 

5) With the help of friends particularly Lee Dingain we built a new website for the site and a social media platform to raise awareness of the importance of the site and to build a natural history community. The reach of that internet platform is up to 13,000 people on a regular basis. 

6) Working with a local team of volunteers (namely Lysanne, Danielle and Sue)  I wrote the biodiversity and  environmental policies for the Hackbridge Neighbourhood Plan with the objective of writing Beddington Farmlands into the local planning framework (its already a priority in the London Plan and Sutton Plan)  with the objective to develop Hackbridge into the hub of the Wandle Valley Regional Park to optimise the benefit and impact of the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve.

7) We implemented various aspects of that plan to meet that aim including building a new entrance to Beddington Farmlands at Hackbridge and also carried out biodiversity improvements in the area including rain gardens, wildlife gardens, green space improvements and new signage and access points through an OLF Project worth a couple of hundred thousand pounds. This was mainly Bioregional but I was helping out. 

8) We completed pre-feasibility studies to develop visitor facilities in Hackbridge for Beddington Farmlands and raised over £60,000 to this end. Again Bioregional led. 

9) I led on a formal complaint that escalated to a  Local Government Ombudsman Investigation that effectively put pressure on the council to enforce planning conditions on Viridor to deliver the reserve. Following a petition hosted by the Wandle Forum that collected 6500 signatures we successfully assisted in establishing a top tier accountability and delivery structure for the reserve through the Housing, Economy and Business Committee where Viridor have to face the public and council every six months to explain their latest progress with the reserve and answer questions if failing.

10) I could go on and on but off the top of my head I've also led loads of public walks, helped out in the judicial review agaisnt the building of the incinerator on site, I sat on the Conservation Science Group for many years, I got nominated for the BTO marsh awards for excellence in local ornithology and campaigning (and for our report), I was nominated by Birdwatch for conservation hero of the year 2019, I have led various other campaigns, was a founding member of the local Extinction Rebellion group that effectively got a climate and ecological emergency declared in the London Borough of Sutton (with Beddington Farmlands at the epicentre of that) and also doing a joint campaign with them for the Save the Lapwings campaign and also kept up the birding of the site and from what I can work I've found a good percentage of all the rare birds found at Beddington over the last few years. 

So what's the big suppression all about then? Well basically, I'm a man of science, reason and evidence and I would suggest that there appears to be quite a bit of evidence that I have been overall successful with championing the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. I'm not perfect but considering I do this alongside running a highly successful local company and I run other projects, there seems to be a strong evidence base that I know what the fuck I'm doing and there's no good reason for anyone to not get behind it. 

Which is why I ask myself the following questions. When a freedom of information request investigation by local journalists uncovered what appeared to be Viridor's site ecologist and the head of the London Borough of Sutton's biodiversity department discrediting me- referring to the bird group as disparate with Derek Coleman being the only scientist, referring to me as an agent provocateur (I wasn't even involved in activism at that stage)  and then following that the London Borough of Sutton removed me from the Conservation Science group-  (catch a breath) -and when I told the other bird group members about this and asked them to support me and file complaints agaisnt MKAEcology and the council and ask for my reinstatement on the management committees of the reserve (considering it would appear I am the most important person on it- from my track record as the Champion ) , the bird group more or less told me to fuck off and die and they supported Marcus Kohler instead. Derek Coleman another member of the bird group even voted me off the committee. I resigned from the exec committee as a result but following a period of great success on other farmlands fronts and the need for the bird group to get moving to keep up I rejoined and volunteered to be group secretary- hoping following even more massive successes (including the establishment of the top tier delivery board) and nominations for national awards they might see that I may actually be useful and now they might support me. I tried that for the last six or seven months and the bird group didn't respond to my emails, are not participating in the digitisation of records (that will be essential when the site opens to the public), haven't backed me again when I've called for support in ensuring that our bird groups reps that replaced me on the CSG are optimised and basically have sent another clear message - fuck off and die. 

Well, I intend to do just that, to leave this whole project (I've done enough and critically we finally have a warden now that can basically take over a lot of what i was doing- I've been hanging in there for this), maybe concentrate on a legal case when all the deadlines are missed in 2023 and prosecute the council, viridor, MKAecology and the bird group for corruption. That could be a laugh. I've already started exploring this with ClientEarth, Linked and XR lawyers. Despite my best efforts and doing everything I could from our end ultimately we have been let down by Viridor not creating the habitat and the council not enforcing conditions and being apologists and advocates for them and the bird group encouraging the corruption and not backing the challenges I attempted. Both Viridor and the council and their sycophants including within  the bird group have persecuted me. The s106 agreement has not been fulfilled, the conservation management scheme has not been implemented and as a result all the conservation targets have been missed, the local important bird populations have collapsed and the Save the Lapwing campaign is the last ditch attempt at salvaging the our last remaining important (red data list) breeding target species. The planning system has completely failed, beddington is now a site of local extinction, the bird group logo the Tree Sparrows are even extinct now,  the law has not been upheld and there is almost certainly a major legal case in there. I would very much enjoy to prosecute everyone involved in that- if there is a way. 

I'm hoping to move out of the area and concentrate on more high brow birding projects. In the meantime just to amuse myself, which brings us to the big suppression, I was thinking of suppressing any rare birds that I find from the bird group. I'd like to leave with some bridges burnt to make sure I cant get back to this fucking hellhole. Some of the people who have fucked me over are like children so perhaps need to be treated like children and their sweeties taken away. Yes indeed its a bit of gamble because they might find something that I'd like to see. However I've seen 223 species at beddington and they've seen much less so the chances of them finding something i need is less. Perhaps they might even try harder to grip me off- that would be nice to see them putting their backs into something and fighting something at least. 

So what have I learnt? I think maybe I was wrong and my ex partner was right. She appears to be doing very well now with an international business and multiple properties around the world. I've got nothing but a deep feeling of bitterness to the world when I think about all this. I understand individualism now, and I understand why Capitalism dominates the planet. No matter what an individual does for society, that society will not reciprocate. There is it would appear no such thing as society. Some people are energised and clever and most are not. The energised ones can either choose to milk the others, keep their wages low, keep them desperate and infighting and drain them and do something good with the milk (like enjoy themselves and forms paradises for the rich from the misery of the poor)  or they can  try and lead others into fighting agaisnt that and creating a more equal world and build something better and less fucked up, after all individualism seems like a very short term plan because eventually we will have a world run by fewer and fewer individuals and more people existing solely to be drained (including their birding local patches)- oh wait, those global oligarchs and billionaires, the ones that now own Beddington Famlands- we are already there! 

So indeed what have I learnt? I don't know. I don't really want to be a capitalist bastard but working tirelessly for a bunch of ungrateful fucks that betray you constantly isn't much fun either. The same thing happens at work but I dont mind because I'm milking it there- so getting paid for being fucked over.  The volunteer stuff is for fucking free! Surely I would get more satisfaction by switching sides, concentrating on my business, getting revenge on all those fuckers who have fucked me over and retiring on my own private nature reserve, bitter and twisted but with psychotic satisfaction rather than bitter, angry and unsatisfied.   I could become a mini-capitalist- I certainly understand why they do it now. I'm even tempted to help Viridor fuck over the local community and join them in getting a boot in.

To gauge my own sense of worth I often think to myself, what would I like Jacob to be or do. Certainly not me is all i know. I will almost certainly be teaching him in the ways of individualism. Maybe I shouldn't throw out the baby with the bath water, maybe I've overdone the collective stuff. Perhaps best he focuses 90% of his time on looking after no 1 and 10% and others and nature as opposed to my botched experiment with little oak group which is 50/50, where I made the assumption that individualism and collectivism were equally efficient. I don't think it is now-unless there is some kind of time delay in collectivism- a longer more complex path but equally efficient? Will see if any seeds that have been sown eventually germinate.  

Who fucking knows, I think I'm just going to be a suppressor for a while to see if sheds any light on my existential crisis. 



Wednesday 9 September 2020

Beddington Farmlands

 A quick visit to the farmlands this evening yielded 60 species. Highlights included the Red-crested Pochard, a Pintail, Wigeon, Willow Warbler, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Peregrines and Hobby. Ebid list HERE

Juvenile Peregrine 
Shovelers and a Pintail
First-winter Willow Warbler 

Birding forecast

 With a westerly airflow, doesn't seem to be a particularly exciting week for the bits that bother me. The jet stream is presumably waving across the top of these depressions which presumably accounts for the small influx of american waders and ducks which have appeared over last few days (included five Blue-winged Teals up north). However despite the westerlies if they are light enough migration will continue as shown by the weekend's happenings with large passerine movements (including the first waves of Mips). So a bit of a tick-over situation really. 

A change in weather is coming early next week with a pulse of warm air coming up from the continent. 

Forecast for Friday this week. The dominant westerly airflow, concentrated more to the north west with a light westerly across the south sets the scene for the week.  American waterbirds riding the jet streams could be a feature through the week - mainly north and west UK. 

Forecast for Monday 14th September- warm air coming up from the continent - maybe a bit of raptor and soaring bird movement making their way into a light warm headwind and could be good for migrant moths 

Monday 7 September 2020

Autumn Sallows at Beddington Farmlands

 The autumn leaf moth mimics are now appearing, wigeon and pintails have arrived at Beddington- winter is coming. However between now and winter is the most exciting time of year for bird migration and autumn vagrants. Unfortunately I'm very restricted during September due to work commitments but plan to take the whole of October off with one sole mission- to find some rare birds and moths. If it's too much of a mission to hit a Western Palearctic hotspot this year I'll be based in the UK- the first time in 20 years I'll be rarity hunting here. 

The last few days have involved a bit of moth trapping, a few local walks and a family visit to the London Wetland Centre yesterday. 

Sallows- Centre-barred Sallow (above) and Orange sallow (below) 

Dewick's Plusia- our local speciality present in the moth trap every night recently with two yesterday 
Red Underwing- a classic early September stunner 
This yellow billed Moorhen at the Wetland Centre was interesting. Also a few Wigeon, quite a few hirundines, the odd Meadow Pipit flying over and Chiffchaffs calling from the willows 
Gillian I did one of usual end of week evening walks - last week was a visit to Carshalton Park to see the 400 year old Sweet Chestnuts 

Saturday 5 September 2020



The breeding bird survey results for 2020 are in from Beddington Farmlands and unfortunately there are two bits of bad news. There's the devastating news that our Tree Sparrows are now officially extinct with no breeding pairs this year and there's the extremely worrying news that our Lapwings (breeding population)  have declined by 20% , a decline of 68% since 2003 and a decline of 33% since baseline. 

Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve Update- updated

 I've received a lot of very welcome feedback from a post I did recently. I've updated the post accordingly to incorporate this feedback. HERE

Thursday 3 September 2020

Day in Kent- Sheppey

 A good day on Sheppey with Kojak. We started off at Leysdown Coastal Park Ebird list and then did the high tide at Shellness , then to Capel Fleet Ebird list and then Swale Nature Reserve Ebird list. We had 89 species for the day, (more from Kojak HERE).

Highlights included a first-winter Pied Flycatcher at Leysdown, a nice fall of lemons (fist-winter Willow Warblers), a Little Stint in with the waders at Shellness which also included a few Knot, Sanderling, 90 Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlin, 3000+ Oystercatcher and 1500 Curlew, the first Wigeon of the autumn, a stunning juvenile Little Gull at Capel Fleet, Great Egret, juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank and 5 Whinchat at Capel Fleet too, a couple of Hobby, Corn Buntings, about 30 Sandwich Tern and a scattering of other migrants.

First-winter Pied Flycatcher
First-winter Willow Warblers (above and below) 

Juvenile Little Gull (a plumage tick) 
Whinchat- a handful of hirundines, yellow wagtails and warblers around today too (mainly Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Blackcaps) . Unfortunately no Wheatears. 
Ringed Plover and Dunlins. There's been an American Golden Plover between Oare and Sheppey recently but we couldn't find it- turns out it was in the flock of Golden Plover today we saw last week at the other end of the Swale Nature Reserve