Sunday 29 November 2020

Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report 2019

Another publication post (as you can tell I've been catching up with report and paper writing/publication over the last few weeks.)  This one the Beddington Farmlands Bird and Wildlife Report 2019 . Available HERE.

I am actually planning on going birding at some point- hopefully this afternoon.  Thank goodness for Ebird and other digital recording platforms which is going to make so much of this labour intensive report writing so much easier in future. 


Saturday 28 November 2020

Identification of Azores Gull- Dutch Birding Paper

Our paper on the Identification of Azores Gull recently published in Dutch Birding is now available to view HERE on Research Gate. 

Non-stop Birding Publications Page updated HERE

Reference: Identification of Azores Gull by Peter Adriaens, Peter Alfrey, Chris Gibbins, Daniel Lopez-Velasco, Dutch Birding 42 (5): 303-334 

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Corvo 2020- Results

 I just remembered I forgot to post the results of Corvo 2020 on this blog. See our Corvo blog HERE

This was the first time in 20 years that I didn't visit the Azores (due to Covid considerations) for autumn birding/rarity hunting and the first time in 15 years that I didn't go to Corvo. Fortunately a few brave die-hards manned the rock and the haul was not too bad especially considering the low numbers of birders and the overall rather unfavourable weather conditions with long periods of easterlies. 

Results table below (David Monticelli) 

To read our most recent main paper (to include analysis up to 2017)  on this project see our 2018 Dutch Birding feature HERE

Monday 23 November 2020

The Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2017- Out now

 The Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2017 is now available to view and download HERE

View and download HERE

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Old Vicarage Weekend

A rather slow weekend here on the Oxon/Bucks border. Managed to visit Farmoor Reservoir this morning (wasn't sure if the Covid Gestapo would lynch me but seems like okay to travel and exercise- I'm genuinely not sure so took the benefit of the doubt to twitch a Oxfordshire tick). The rest of the weekend was spent working on the Azores Rare Bird Reports and Portuguese Rarities Committee work and a bit of time in the garden planning the new moth and butterfly bed. 

No Ebird lists yet as Ebird is down for maintenance at the moment.  Moth trap was quiet, just a few December moths, Silver Y and Grey-pine Carpet. 

Adult female Scaup, presumably a returning bird from last year (SEE HERE ). Also a juvenile Scaup and male Tufted Duck. The juvenile bird was smaller than the female and also lacked a white ear covert patch (more typical of classic juv Scaup). See some cautious remarks in this caption link above.  
Adult female and juvenile Scaup 
The juvenile Great Northern Diver (an Oxon lifer) was playing hard to get early morning. The bird has been present since early November (much better pics and vid HERE
Female (above) and male (below) December moths 

The antennae of these male December moths are stunning 
Another rather smart looking Silver-Y (all of the recent ones have been fresh looking) 

Friday 13 November 2020

Beddington Farmlands- plastic fantastic

 Been working in London for last few days. Seems like the theme has been Category C and E birds with a Yellow-crowned Bishop and the White Stork (GB35) at Beddington today and a count of over 1000 Ring-necked Parakeets going to roost yesterday evening. Ebird list HERE.

The evenings have been fairly mild with a few moths including Feathered Thorn, Chestnut and Silver Y. 

Yellow-crowned Bishop (above and below) - this bird has been around for a while and seems to be doing well, frequenting the bird feeders. This species has successful colonised parts of Portugal (see here) but is native to sub-Saharan Africa. This bird is of the race afer, which is the West African sub-species. 

Ring-necked Parakeets (above and below)- the winter roost flights are always spectacle to watch. Over a 1000 yesterday evening. 

The White Stork (GB35) is still around and seems to be in good health. 
Works have started on the Northern Lake with vegetation being cleared to make breeding habitat for waders
Chestnut (new for year at Beddington- see comments below, ) and Narrow-winged Grey (below) 

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Old Vicarage- Winter lockdown

Hopefully should be a busy winter here at the Old Vicarage. Bryan (Holly's dad) is getting a conversion done on the Coach House and at the same time the garden area is being extended and also got some plans to plant up some pollinator borders. Should keep us busy through lockdown as can't get much food growing done this time of year (but going to try some broad beans) so mainly planting and landscaping time. 

Had the noc-mig gear out over last few nights (calm evenings have been a bit rare this autumn)- been good numbers of Redwings and also a few migrants including Teal, Coot and a garden first - Snipe. Snipe recording below and a few recordings HERE (interesting comparison of two redwing NFCs- showing differences in sonogram signatures.)

The moth trapping has been pretty good for this time of year. The small flush of migrants continue over the last couple of nights with up to 4 Silver Y, single Rusty-Dot Pearls and Turnip. Also a late Setaceous Hebrew Character (which could be a migrant too). Local fair include up to five Feathered Thorns, Chestnuts, Cypress and Red-Green Carpets, Sprawlers, Blair's Shoulder Knots, Satellite and December moth etc.  

Goodbye to the old shed (above)- opens the space right up (below)

Watch this space for the garden and food growing extension
Rusty Dot Pearl- still can't move up the migrant league from Silver Y, Rusty Dot Pearl, Turnips, Angle Shades etc. Would be nice to get a next level migrant such Olive-tree Pearl, Dark Sword Grass, Gem or up to first division with a Radford's Flame Shoulder  - all these migrants are currently influxing into the south coast with some inland records including a Radford's in Herts. 
The Silver-Y specimens have all been pristine - the winds are coming up from the Canaries, Iberia and North Africa but not sure how far these are travelling from but can't be very old as the condition is so fresh. 
Wakely's Dowd
Cypress Carpet- quite good for these parts 
Autumn challenge selection (above and below)- not quite sure how many species here, is this Chestnut (above) and Brick and Dark Chestnut below or all Chestnuts!? 

Snipe over the Old Vicarage, nocturnal bird 

Monday 9 November 2020

The EBird Revolution

Any regular follows of this blog will know that I use Ebird as my bird recording system. Dom Mitchell wrote a somewhat controversial article in Birdwatch/Birdguides recently HERE where he advocated the replacement of notebooks with the Ebird app. Needless to say I'd go a lot further than that (I'm prone to taking things to the limit) and will predict that Ebird will not only replace notebooks but also will replace bird reports, county recorders, bird clubs, rarities committees and every other traditional birding recording, validation and reporting platform. 

At Beddington Farmlands we've attempted to completely make the transition to Ebird with observers using the app to populate our hotspot with data, photos and sound recordings and we've also been uploading archived data to create a 'live' avifauna of the site. Although it's still a work in progress here are the results:

Beddington Farmlands Location and Introduction: HOTSPOT MAP

The Beddington Farmlands avifauna (on line bird history of the site) ILLUSTRATED CHECKLIST and PRINTABLE CHECKLIST

2020 Live Bird Report: 2020 BAR CHARTS (any year can be selected by changing the date range)

Example of Species account: GREEN SANDPIPER 2020 DATA (any species can be selected and analysed in multiple ways by clicking on graph icon next to each species on the bar chart)

Example of species records in comparison to surrounding hotspots: ARCTIC SKUA (if you zoom out of this map it looks like there was only two other inland records on Arctic Skua in England in 2020- in Staines and Cambridge) 

Photos for 2020 at Beddington Farmlands BEDDINGTON FARMLANDS MEDIA

Sound recordings for 2020 at Beddington Farmlands BEDDINGTON FARMLANDS SOUND MEDIA

Example of a daily recording sheet APRIL 18th 2020 EBIRD

Basically, Ebird is absolutely amazing and thrusts birding into the digital, global and interconnected future. Each local patch and all local data is effectively integrated into a global recording system which maps global bird distribution and migration in real time. It's a global revolution and within the next ten or twenty years it will absorb rarity committees (national and county), reports and records centres. 

To make sure we move into the future but not lose great traditions we will still produce a hard copy bird report at Beddington but a concise version which supports the Beddington Farmlands Ebird. Example of our transition with our 2019 report HERE (on ResearchGate- another open source global network for scientific research). All this new technology really is absolutely amazing!! 

Check out the Azores Ebird, planning on integrating our reports here too. AZORES EBIRD. This is a really important function where recording areas can be constructed and individual records can be analysed across collections of hotspots (e.g. no reason a county can't adopt one of these recording areas). Will also be building our Bulgaria and Ghana projects on Ebird and also use it for all birding trips, home and away- the benefit of a global/ universal system. 

Sunday 8 November 2020

The Old Vicarage- a few migrant moths

The warm airflow that is set to keep up for the next week or so is causing a wave of moth migration across the south coast which is reaching inland too as I had a few migrants here in the garden on the Oxon/Bucks border. Just singles of Rusty-dot Pearl and Silver Y with Angle Shades (a possible migrant) and a few local/seasonal 'new for years' too including Feathered Thorn and Scarce Umber. Also Mottled Umber and Winter moth recorded for the first time this winter (but also recorded in early part of the year too). This spell of warm airflow (sweeping up from the Sahara on occasions) could make the next couple of weeks of lockdown a bit more interesting. I've had 419 species of moth here this year but disappointedly no rare migrants- hoping for a late result! 

Did a couple of hours on Oakley Airfield this morning. The Golden Plover flock has gone (only a handful up there now) presumably relocated to Otmoor where there are over 3000 now. Also had a single Lapwing on the airfield, a Brambling over, good numbers of Meadow Pipit, a Stonechat, 3 Corn Bunting and 70 Fieldfare overhead. Ebird list HERE

Feathered Thorn 
Rusty-dot Pearl 
Scarce Umber- this species, Mottled Umber and Winter Moth were on the house white walls rather than in the Robinson's trap.

Wednesday 4 November 2020

The Late show

Winter is coming but autumn is not over yet.  Woodpigeons have been on the move in the last couple of days with about 1000 per hour going over the Beddington obs this morning. I did Otmoor yesterday morning which was all gearing up for the winter with well over 1000 Golden Plovers on Flood Field and flocks of Wigeon building on Big Otmoor. Also had 1 Dunlin in with the plovers and about 30 Snipe out on Greenaways. 

December moths in the moth trap at the Old Vic - another harbinger of four months of winter. 

With lockdown re-starting tomorrow it could well be a very long winter. Local nature could well be a vital lifeline (a natural intensive care unit) in the coming weeks and months. 

December moth
Male Stonechat at Otmoor yesterday- this photogenic bird almost insisted I keep up the Stonechat theme on this blog. The results from Aberdeen are in of two of the suspected Stejneger's Stonechats in the North of England this autumn - in both cases the field identifications were supported by the DNA and both have been confirmed as Stejneger's. Eagerly awaiting the results of our bird at Medmerry. 
Golden Plovers at Otmoor (above) and Woodpigeons (below) over Beddington this morning 

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Portuguese Rarities Report Volume 12 Now On Line

 Proud to be involved in this publication. Link to report HERE

Sunday 1 November 2020

Big October round-up

Well, overall quite pleased with my 'Big October'. The plan was to take the whole month off and try and find some rare birds and moths. It didn't quite go to plan as work was so busy I had to go back one or two days a week. However did manage to find a couple of local megas, a BB rarity, a few national scarcities and a few migrant moths. 

This was the first autumn I've birded the UK since the early 2000's. Each year since 2005 I've been 'doing' the Azores and more recently the Black Sea coast in September/October so it was a bit like going back in time. What was very evident while re-visiting rarity hunting spots in Kent and locally was how much birding has evolved in the last 20 years. Rarity hunting in the Uk in early 2000s was just bins, scope, tripod and a Nikon Coolpix 995 and then back home to deal with reporting news, catching up with news and identification from books and journals etc. 

Now I had bins, scope, tripod, DSLR camera with 300mm lens, Iphone, sound recording set up (recorder, headphones and shotgun mic) and was based in the VW campervan aka mobile obs/lab with laptop, internet hotspot, charging points, robinson's moth trap and actinic heath trap, with spare bulbs, entomology equipment, batteries while connected via the iphone to a whole network of whatsapp and social media groups (for bird and moth news), bird news app (Birdguides), bird recording app (Ebird) and access to sound and image resources (Xeno Canto, Macaulay Library, UK Moths, Norfolk moths, Hampshire Moths) and a whole range of weather map apps and birdcasts etc and writing the whole thing up on blogs connected to embedded networks .  It's nuts- the next 20 years is almost unimaginable- presumably we are going to be thrust back into the dark ages as Captialsim overshoots and collapses with all this wonderful technology it has delivered to keep us amused and rebuild the planet and society following a period of dictactorship, devastation and genocide. How can you possibly advance from here? There's nowhere to go apart from back surely?? Oh yes I forgot that we are also awaiting a DNA result from a faecal sample that is currently being analysed by scientists in Aberdeen before we can identify one bird I found ! WTF!! 

Anyway, despite the sense of impending doom (and Covid lurking and rising in the background) it was great fun as I was walking around lit up like a xmas tree with lights flashing and phones beeping , wires everywhere, bits of gear hanging off of every limb while simultaneously talking to friends in the Azores, Bulgaria, the Scillies and across the UK comparing notes and discussing weather patterns. Bloody amazing. Literally what a great time to be alive (maybe for not much longer!) 

Here's a few photo highlights of a fantastic month.

Highlight of this month was finding this 'Eastern Stonechat', showing features of Stejneger's Stonechat. A DNA sample has been collected by Matt Eades and is currently in Aberdeen with Doc Martin's team. It's either a Siberian Stonechat (maurus) or a Stejneger's Stonechats- either way the DNA results will hopefully determine the specific identification of a species pair where over 400 historical records are now considered undetermined 'Eastern Stonechats' Siberian/Stejneger's. There's only less than 20 proven Siberian and less than 10 proven Stejneger's records for the UK.  
This Dusky Warbler was part of a nationwide influx of at least 17 birds in October. A bogey bird of mine, needed it for my world list so finding a world tick in the UK was something I was definitely not expecting. I did think it was a bird I might twitch this autumn so finding one was perfect. 
This Pallas's Warbler at Shellness got the national scarcity ball rolling. Also found a Yellow-browed at South Foreland. 
Arctic Skua at Beddington, a local mega (the first since 2004) on the first of October- a blinking good start and good omen for the rest of the month.
Even jammed into a local mega when visiting the family between coastal 'raids'. This Dotterel over Oakley Airfield in Bucks was the eighth county record and first in over 20 years. Also had a Lapland Bunting at the airfield (undocumented unfortunately), a Merlin and great to see the local Golden Plover flock build to over 700 by month end. 
The supporting cast of the rarities and scarcities were just as fantastic- 5 Short-eared Owls coming in off the North Sea was a great sight, trees dripping in tame Goldcrests (below) was fantastic, chacking Ring Ouzels, chipping flocks of Crossbills going over, big vis days including thousands of thrushes and finches, Firecrests, Dartford Warblers, and Bramblings.  

Vis-mig from South Foreland was awesome with thousands of finches moving along the coast 
Unfortunately no mega moth (still need to work on my technique because on two big nights my moth traps on the coast blew over). Highlights included this Olive-tree Pearl (above) and a nice selection of other migrants including Delicates, Clancy's Rustic, Feathered Ranunculus, L-album Wainscots, White Points and Rusty-dot Pearl etc.
Finally catching Merveille du Jour was overdue but nonetheless a personal highlight. Had about ten by the end of the month. 
My first Figure of Eight was a novice's highlight but nonetheless a moth lifer from the month.
The only thing I twitched all month was the White Stork at Beddington ! 
Spent quite a few nights 'roughing it' in the mobile base camp.