Thursday 31 December 2020

The Year in Numbers

As an entrenched anti-capitalist, the main challenge I see to overcome in developing a post capitalist, nature and people centric sustainable society is a societal value system that adequately replaces GDP.  The beauty and the reason for success of GDP is it's simplicity.  So anything that replaces it will need to be as simple as possible (but not over simple). Measuring the success of a society by economic growth alone is what is destroying our planet, it needs an upgrade, worked well in the past but is now becoming obsolete and causing more harm than good. A post-capitalist algorithm that governs a society would need to take into account other metrics, metrics that measure Natural Capital and Social Capital. In developing Natural and Social Capital metrices, an organisation or corporation  could submit 'triple-bottom line' accounts and an index could effectively inform shareholders of their true wealth creation (not just economic wealth creation, so it would report on Economic, Natural and Social Capital). Those corporations or companies with the highest 'wealth' creation could be rewarded by paying less tax (which would be justified as tax is often used to repair the damage that capitalism causes).  Whether its an individual or corporation's contribution to society being measured, metrics are required to put a value on who should be rewarded and who should be 'punished'. A sustainable future and a post-capitalist society will require this kind of technology  to for example punish corporations like Viridor and reward organisations like ..... our organisation! lol  

I don't really know how these metrics would be used in a final algorithm , maybe nobody does but that algorithm is forming naturally anyway and there will be and is a scramble to control and harness that naturally evolving system. The way we interact with the internet and feed our effort into output is certainly creating personal profiles and also organisational profiles. Data companies are now the largest companies that ever existed on the planet, the future is all about data. As we use the internet freely we are now the product, if you are not paying for something than you are the product.  Everything we do is being recorded and big data companies are analysing that data and analysing us. In the future devising systems that reward people for contributing positively will almost certainly emerge. Those who earn lots of money are often doing it at the expense of the planet and currently our society's algorithms reward those people to the detriment of everyone and everything.  They want to keep it like that so are fighting hard to control the algorithms. There will almost certainly be horrifying consequences to this new emerging immense power before society is shocked into taking democratic control on the algorithms. The old world is dying and the new one is struggling to be born.. this is indeed the time of monsters (after Gramsci) 

We need a system that rewards those who are creating Economic, Natural and Social Capital. We need a new system. We need an end to Capitalism and the new metrics that feed into planetary system management algorithms will be a fundamental part of that. 

Here's a few metrics that I've been playing around with this year in our tiny organisation, either personal metrics or group/team metrics. My objective with our tiny little enterprise is to create a test tube model of what a future company would/should/could/might/might not look like.  A organisation that measures it's success in a few ways including in birding output! It's an impossible objective but perhaps does offer some glimpses into what companies will be recording and reporting on in their annual reports in the future and what individuals in a post-capitalist society will be valued on- perhaps a value system that qualifies people for Universal Basic Income (there is going to be a hell of a lot of people with not much to do once these systems take hold especially after the Covid reset)- something I might need if I spend too much time living in the clouds!  

Number of Bird Species Recorded in 2020:  196

Total Number of Days Birding: 124 Ebird Checklists (+ 10 or so additional days)  

Total Number of Moths and Butterfly Species Recorded in 2020: 444  (+ approx 10 species on day trips) 

(331 moths and 16 butterflies at Beddington and 267 moths and 10 butterflies at the Old Vicarage) 

Total Number of Records of Moths and Butterflies in 2020: 2767 records (approx 250 nights recording) 

All Time Western Palearctic Bird List: 704

All Time World Bird List: 2938

Beddington Farmlands Bird List (Personal): 224

Azores List (Personal): 241

Moth and Butterfly lists: My next project

Description Species Finds list (Rare bird finds list) : 7 county description species and 1 BB Rarity in 2020  SEE HERE

Blog Views in 2020 : 169,000 page views 

Beddington Farmlands Facebook Group: 1618 likes, 1722 follows 

Most popular post had a reach of 14,900

Number of Publications published in 2020: Birdwatch/Birdguides article (2), Dutch Birding paper (1), Beddington Farmlands Reports (2), Azores Bird Club Reports (1), Portuguese Rarities Committee Report (2) 

Number of reads on Research Gate :  6235

Total Little Oak Group Economic Capital Revenue 2020: £303,000

Total Number of Little Oak Tree and Garden Care Customers in 2020: 540


Wednesday 30 December 2020

Final Minutes of Play 2020 Patch Tick

I thought it was all over for 2020 but yesterday evening Zach Pannifer found a Yellow-browed Warbler at Beddington Farmlands. I've was in town as been catching up with work so popped over at first light this morning. However the bird did not show so I returned this evening and luckily the bird was very vocal around dusk and we glimpsed it several times too. My last Beddington Farmlands lifer was in 2018, this puts me on 224 for the site. 

After the warbler we went into the park to clock the Little Owls that have been showing regularly. We had one calling bird and glimpsed one or two individuals.

The first documentation of a Yellow-browed Warbler at Beddington Farmlands followings 2 previous records where birds were neither sound recorded or photographed. Hopefully this bird hangs around and we get some photographs. 

Saturday 26 December 2020

Worminghall to Waterstock

An excellent four hour walk this morning from the Old Vic out to the Waterstock Thame Catchment and back. Interestingly the diversity was almost as great as at Otmoor RSPB with 65 species Ebird list here . Highlights included four new birds for the 'Worminghall area', Pintail, Gadwall, Shoveler and Great Black-backed Gull.  The water levels are high with vast areas of wetland that were attracting good numbers of waterfowl. I couldn't find the goose flock that had the White-front in a few days ago but I could hear them calling from somewhere inaccessible. 

Wigeon out on the flooded fields 
A distant pair of Pintail 
Plenty of winter thrushes about (above and below) 

More rain is on the way ! 

Friday 25 December 2020

Happy Xmas to me- a subscription to Inkcap

The brand new weekly 'newspaper' for Nature Conservation in the UK .


Thursday 24 December 2020

Otmoor- all dayer

Spent every bit of daylight on Otmoor today, 8 hours and 18 mins, walked 7.63 miles, logged 61308 birds of 67 species (missed 3 species that I know about) and the highlights included a flock of 28 White-fronted Geese, Bittern, a Marsh Tit (Otmoor tick, now on 131 for Otmoor), 38 Barnacle Goose, 4 Marsh Harrier (2 juvs, 1 female and 1 male), 1 Peregrine, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, 1 Dunlin and an adult Yellow-legged Gull. Ebird list HERE.

28 White-fronted Geese over Ashgrave 

Marsh Tit 
Black-tailed Godwits
Luke the leucistic Pochard 
Roe Deer
A few of the estimated 50,000 Starlings 
The female Brambling was also present today but I didn't see it (photos from Monday and Ebird list HERE ). Also Hen Harrier and Great Black-backed Gull seen today so 70 species on Otmoor today- a pretty good winter tally.  Must also be a few others that I didn't see or hear about such as Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Common Gull, Stock Dove, Red-legged and Grey Partridge, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Merlin, Barn Owl, Shortie, Kingfisher, Jay, Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail and Lesser Redpoll - so getting toward 90 species probably actually on Otmoor. 

According to Reeber's Wildfowl this is a good fit for a Snow Goose x Canada Goose. More on local Snow Geese HERE. I might have mis-identified these at Otmoor as pure Snow Geese in the past SEE HERE  

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Seek and ye shall find

Seems an appropriate blog post title, a quote from Jesus considering this week we are celebrating his birth. Perhaps he wasn't actually referring to Russian White-fronts but today after much seeking I finally did find one of my own;  a juvenile on the River Thame flood plain near the Ickford Bridges, on the Bucks side of the river (The Thame river here marks the boundary between Oxon and Bucks).

Juvenile White-fronted Goose, with Greylag and Canada Goose, the first record for the River Thame Catchment 


Sunday 20 December 2020

2020 Review, July to December

Part one of this review HERE
We finally managed to get a holiday this year, a great week on the Lizard Peninsula . Highlights included this group of Cattle Egrets (above), Adders (below) and a few moth lifers including Coxcomb Prominent (below that) .

Also thanks to Tony Blunden did a bit of botanising on the Lizard, load of lifers including this Autumn Squill (above) and the extremely rare and localised Wild Asparagus (below) 

Jacob and I on holday 
Back on the regular circuit started regular trips into Kent as the autumn started to kick in- this Lesser Yellowlegs at Oare was an early autumn highlight.
The mini-farm by July 

Trips to Kent produced the regular Oare Marshes Bonaparte's Gull 
A heatwave in August produced some great mothing- new species for Beddington included Scarce Oak Knot-horn (above) and Dark Umber (below) 

Had a family trip with a night mothing at Waterstock Local Nature Reserve . The local vicar called the land owner within 5 minutes exclaiming ' Quick Henry, strap up drums, you've got Gypsies on your land'  (lol !!) 
In August we had a big push on the Save the Lapwings at Beddington Farmlands campaign (above and below) . Petition now over 60,000 supporters SEE HERE

Harvest time at the mini-farm (above and below) 

Despite three national lockdowns in 2020 the worst month of incarceration for me was September as Steve my brother took the month off to tour the UK and I was stuck at the helm of the business during a very busy month . Very little birding done - one of the highlights was a relatively long staying Great Egret at the farmlands 

To make up for having to work flat out during September I tried to take the whole of October off to look for rarities. A pretty good result with finding an Eastern Stonechat (above) showing characteristics of Stejneger's Stonechat, a Dusky Warbler (below), Pallas's Warbler (below that), Dotterel ( a local mega) (below even further) and an Arctic Skua at Beddington (keep going down). 

The arrival of one of Knepp's White Storks to Beddington Farmlands was an autumn highlight (its still there - in December) 
October at the mini-farm- time to go full circle and get it ready for a few winter crops and ready for next Spring 

November highlights included these Scaup at Farmoor . Spent a lot of November catching up with report and paper writing. Finally publishing our paper on Azores Gull (below) was a highlight of the year . Link to paper HERE

Also published the Azores report in November HERE and thanks to an excellent secretary (Pedro) on the Portuguese Rarities Committee we also published two national reports this year too.

Highlight of December so far has been the invasion of Russian White-fronted Geese (these were on Clapham Common). Hopefully still one or two highlights to add to this review before the year end. Overall been an extremely interesting year and absolutely loved birding the UK in autumn for the first time in over two decades. 

Friday 18 December 2020

2020 Review, January to June

The natural history 'highlight' of the year was the global invasion of a zoonotic pathogen, that appears to have jumped from pangolins into humans. 

Instead of reducing the current threat and halting the risk of future zoonotic pandemics by halting biodiversity loss (viruses are jumping into humans as natural systems become increasingly stressed/ eliminated ), stamping out illegal wild animal trade, increasing hygiene and animal welfare conditions in Asian wet markets and world wide intensive animal husbandry (all the last pandemics of the last decade or so have been zoonotic in origin  (Bird flu, Swine flu, Ebola, SARS etc) (SEE INTER-GOVERNMENTAL SCIENCE-POLICY PLATFORM FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES REPORT) while simultaneously reducing the risk of the current pandemic by de-centralising and promoting self-reliance, increasing resilience and changing supply lines to limit the numbers of people and goods being moved across the planet and re-focus onto local and sustainable supply lines interconnected into a regenerative global trade network, while also protecting/shielding the vulnerable from the pandemic and  introducing Non-Universal Basic Income for full-time dedicated hard working 'volunteers' to help develop an international regeneration programme (of re-building society and the environment); well instead of that billionaire controlled world governments (and the UK government) locked in a race to the bottom deployed a strategy that will make pharmaceutical multi-nationals even richer (in an impossible arms race of novel vaccines to outcompete novel zoonotic viruses as the biodiversity crisis intensifies), removed personal freedoms on an unprecedented scale, restructured the economy by eliminating vast tracts of the small and medium scale (and traditional large) business environment, generated mass unemployment and obsolescence  while the mass obsolete,  unemployed and failed small businesses will be scooped up by billionaire controlled mega systems like Amazon, Zoom and even pig breeders (SEE HERE ).  As the global capitalist oligarchy exerted its grip everywhere, Beddington Farmlands (Viridor) was sold to Henry Kravis and George Roberts of KKR Inc @ Co, a £550 billion concern who took control of our local area in March. Henry Kravis is the 317th richest person in the world. The potential to set a global precedent for corporate-local community-council ecological regeneration is now at the highest stakes (and the most challenging/dangerous).

Meanwhile many birders across the country set about becoming billionaire controlled drones, policing and lynching any other birders who strayed beyond walking distance of their open prisons while applauding the Disaster-Capitalists for protecting them from a threat the Capitalists 'engineered' (through creating ecological stress) and were accelerating. Many birders also signed up for low-carbon birding also known as patch self-incarceration, in a bid to neutralise themselves and permanently remove the eco-tourist support of much of the planet's biodiversity - making it easier for the billionaires to scoop that up too in the future. We need responsible travel -not to abandon our global community. As birders our primary objective should be Net-Biodiversity Gain supporting certain Net Zero objectives (many net zero measures are highly ecologically destructive).  

My response to the acceleration of the human planet hurtling even faster to the edge of oblivion was to tell all the  drones in the local bird group and local viridor controlled committees to go fuck themselves while I buggered off to learn how to grow my own food and build my personal resilience to see out the next few years as the global Capitalist dictatorship boot comes down even harder. It's a very precarious time and not one to be sparring in pointless exhaustion inducing pseudo-committee corporate fronts like the CSG, the CAMC and now even the bird group (which I have totally dissociated from). We can achieve much more as an independent outside pressure group- avoiding energy draining engagements, clearing out dead wood from our group and targeting politicians and PR machines.   

Meanwhile on the progress front it was a great year mainly focused on building a technologically advanced local community support base for Beddington Farmlands (totally independent from the viridor controlled groups also to avoid inadvertent greenwash as the KKR backed Viridor execute their coup de grace on Beddington Farmlands over the coming months- a triple whammy of abandoning key ecological targets, abandoning key public access objectives and continual delays in restoration coinciding with an assault from the Thames Water front of decommissioning of over 200 acres of wetland in preparation for development), we launched the Save the Lapwings Campaign which now has over 50,000 supporters (to spotlight the coming Thames Water/Viridor led ecocide), ran a public access campaign (for new paths and fulfilling current obligations) and started the lengthy and complex process of taking legal action against Sutton Council and Viridor for ecological planning regulation irregularities (which we plan to execute after the 2023 planning deadlines have passed). 

Personally speaking it was an excellent year (while my sincerest sympathies to all those who were exposed to this threat). Much of our preparation for global breakdown paid off  with near record profits, new acquisitions, a restructuring of our projects and enterprises and some fantastic birding. mothing and botanising.  

I suspect I hosted our pathogenic 'ally' in March of this year- if I can ever get it confirmed (with an anti-body test), it will be new species for the pan-species list! 

Here's some pretty pictures of some of this year's highlights:  


White-fronted and Red-breasted Geese in Romania (above) and Whooper Swans (below) . The only foreign trip of the year I did was to complete the purchase on a new private nature reserve in Bulgaria in January. Did some great winter birding but had to travel north to Romania to find the geese which don't always travel so far south when the winter is mild. 

Location of our new small nature reserve project. Although visits this year did not go to plan we still made progress with getting drone footage, surveys and preliminary landscape architect planning. 
Back in the UK (where I was to spend more time than I have in about 40 years!) the highlights of January including this nice comparison between Raven and Carrion Crow (above) and twitching the Black-throated Thrush at Whipsnade Zoo (below) 

The highlight of the month was the discovery by local birders of a wintering 'Sibe-hotspot' on the River Wandle nearby with a Yellow-browed Warbler (above) keeping company with 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs (below) - there was also a Firecrest or two nearby (below that) 

As the world went into lockdown in March we deployed our global breakdown emergency plan which involved setting up a mini-farm at the Old Vicarage, utilising supply stores and forming an affinity group. It was a good practise run.   
The mini-farm in March 
Instead of buying bog roll (we'd been storing it for several years anyway for times like this) I went birding with Kojak. We found these Twite (below), which we later discovered had been unknowingly found and photographed by Dave Warren in January and this March Knot (above) was a very unseasonal local bird.  

April was all about exploring our local area. The biggest discovery was finding out the birding potential of the Airfield- two minutes walking distance from Holly's (The Old Vic). Firecrest (above), Corn Buntings (below) and Yellow Wagtails (below that) were a few of the birds discovered there. 

Lockdown bird back in London (Beddington Farmlands) where I was based for work was this Spoonbill from the window.
This Pinion-spotted Pug (at the Old Vic) turned out to be the moth highlight of the year. This Blossom Underwing (below) was one of many firsts for the Old Vic throughout the year. 

Oakley Airfield 

This stunning pair of Black-necked Grebe was one the highlights of Beddington Farmlands 
We found this summer plumage Great White Egret in Kent, once lockdown was over 
Oakley Airfield highlight of the month was this presumed 'Greenland Wheatear' 
Spotted Flycatchers had returned to the Old Vic by late month 
By mid-month we did some Orchid hunting in Kent. Highlights included Monkey Orchid (above), Lady's Orchid (below) and Fly Orchid (below that)  

Duke of Burgundy was present at one of the orchid sites. 
The mini-farm in May- things started to pop up! 

June was mainly about moths, orchids and mini-farming. Always a treat to catch Privet Hawkmoth (above) and this was quite an impressive hand fall caught one night (below)- Lappet, Pine, Poplar, Elephant Hawkmoths and Buff-tip. 

Plain Golden-Y- a stunning moth (and a lifer) 
Maple Pug- one of a number of subtle moth lifers this year (see 'this year in numbers' in the next blog post) 
Dark and pale morph Peppered Moths 
Successfully breeding Great Spots in the Old Vic garden was great to have 
Our orchid hunting continued into June with Late Spider (above) and Lizard Orchids (below)  

Meanwhile back at Beddington Farmlands- it was the beginning of another year of controversy as the Thames Water decommissioning of wetland started to take it's first casualties with drying out habitat providing opportunities for predators to target ground nesting birds. This initiated the Save the Lapwings campaign (SEE HERE
The mini-farm in June- all going well