Sunday, 31 October 2021
Saturday, 30 October 2021
Wednesday, 27 October 2021
As I keep getting asked the same questions here is a quick Corvo FAQ. The fact that people ask these questions implies they lack basic understanding of what birding is so I've taken the time to spell a few things out. If you are a seasoned birder and read this and haven't worked this out for yourself yet I would suggest as a rule in life that you are better off following orders of someone you trust rather than expressing opinions of your own as it will be a good thing for you to accept that- you will be happier and less angry.
1) Why don't birders just go to America to see American Birds?
They do. Personally I have seen very few lifers on Corvo, seen most of the species in America before. However if you want to see or find American birds within the Western Palearctic the Azores is the premium site. The same question applies to all twitching and rarity hunting, why do British birders go to Shetland or Scillies to see or find birds which you can easily see by travelling to Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Asia or America, in the case of Scilly also for about the quarter of the price, hundred times the birds and without having to throw up over the side of the Scillonian too. Why do birders get excited about seeing a Skua on an inland reservoir or a Pochard flying over their urban garden ?
Of course the answer to these questions is relativity, context and perception. If you really want to go and see rare birds then go through the IUCN list of critically endangered species and go looking for them.
If however you enjoy the concept of games, boards and pieces than there is added value in being a bit more fractal and less serious. British birders/twitchers have drawn a line (depending on what game you are playing it's either the geographic unit of the British Isles including Ireland or the political boundaries of the United Kingdom which Nicola Sturgeon could well and truly fuck up) to create a playing field with the aim of attempting to see as many birds in that playing field. On this playing field, like a real life game of Pokeman, certain pieces are harder to find (rarities) and have higher values/more points and they become desirable and then players (birders) compete to collect them or find them. Its a first world phenomenon.
The Western Palearctic board is basically a bigger game and World Birding is the biggest game. Then of course there are smaller games like county birding and then smaller games like local patching and then the smallest game of all- garden birding. In all those games, the playing fields are different as are the pieces with different values in different games. A general way of measuring absolute value is the concept of 'Description Species' - within each recording area/playing field, there are generally referee-like organisations (rarities committees) which define the species within that area which are rare and assess those claims to assist in maintaining high standards of play/identification and to help regulate fraud (stringing) and error (stringing again). From a bird finders point of view, description species are the tokens to collect i.e. county rarities and national rarities. National rarities are perceived as having more value but it's not a perfect scoring system as a Lanceolated Warbler on Fair Isle is nowhere near a good a find as a Long-tailed Skua in Surrey. More elaborate scoring systems and leagues are also featured in some initiatives such as Local Patch Challenge.
Like all games/sports there are also serious implications to these games, it provides people with purpose and focus, increases their mental and physical fitness, data is collected for nature conservation purposes, it drives innovation and invention in birding technology, it creates economy, jobs and community and most important of all it's an alternative to the worst most boring game on the planet- collecting money and things. Collecting birds is so much more fun and doesn't generally involve child labour, sweat shops, suicide nets, enslaving the working classes, destroying the planet and serving billionaires and Satanic forces.
So if you love Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, love travel, love different cultures, meeting foreign birding friends and of course love the birds of the Western Palearctic, then it's a great game and if your playing that game then Corvo and the Azores is the autumn hub (its like the Shetland or Scillies for Europe) and THE place to collect those American birds.
2) ....but the Azores isn't part of the Western Palearctic, its part of America.
I haven't actually got the patience for this at the moment. Bare with me I will come back on this but in the meantime if you really hold this opinion- go and take a long look at yourself in the mirror first and ponder why you feel you should hold this opinion and ask yourself these questions
a) What the fuck do I know about biogeographical zones and how they are designated?
b) Why have I got an opinion on something I have no knowledge of?
c) Why have I been convinced that democracy and freedom is a good thing for me?
d) Should I move to China, I could be happier living under Oppression and Dictatorship?
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
One billion pound fraud probe called for by Sutton Council Opposition into the Beddington Farmlands Incinerator
Breaking news that strongly indicates that the beddington farmlands incinerator was green washed into existence in what could amount to a one billion pound fraud in Sutton that has left the local wildlife and environment blighted.https://t.co/9qU3b2Wn4g— Beddington Farmlands (@BeddingtonFarm) October 26, 2021
Monday, 25 October 2021
It's half term so my last week off work is going to die in a birding whimper of family attractions and zoos. I managed to sneak in the Pec at Port Meadow found by Thomas Miller today and also got a quickie in at Otmoor yesterday HERE - the Golden Plovers are arriving and also had a Merlin. With Pec my Oxon list is on a rather appalling 168 HERE.
A few new for year moths in the trap. Did a load of work in the garden yesterday. Finally saw the f#cking Armadillo (Six-banded) at Cotswold Wildlife Park today after three attempts (about £120!) of seeing it in its cage!
Sunday, 24 October 2021
Friday, 22 October 2021
Did about three hours up at Brill Windmill this morning. A late Swallow and a few Bramblings, Redwings and quite a few Chaffinches moving with a few Goldcrests in the bushes and a Chiffchaff (Ebird list HERE). Also a couple of flocks of Woodpigeons moving- the harbinger of the last migration wave of autumn is near.
Back at the Old Vic I had a few flocks of Golden Plover going over high a couple of evenings ago (presumably the local Oakley Airfield birds arriving back) and the Tawny Owls have been very vocal. The moth trap has been relatively quiet in the now much cooler evenings but still a few new for years including Satellite and November moth agg.
Went to our local farm shop this morning (as ever trying to only buy non-industrial products where possible) and they had a game fair on with the British Association of Shooting and Conservation and other countryside groups that would trigger the likes of Mark Avery and Chris Packham into a right frenzy. I certainly get the sense I'm behind some kind of enemy lines in this part of the world what with it being Tory and hunting heartland but to be honest the whole region is absolutely stunning and there is a real abundance in wildlife, even away from RSPB controlled Otmoor (which is the nuts though), so probably some kind of indication of the perils of populist politics.
Wednesday, 20 October 2021
Spent the last couple of days on Portland hoping to catch some rare migrant moths in the mild air being drawn up from the south. It did produce some scarcities in the region but looks like further west with Tunbridge Wells Gem, Scarce Burnished Brass and a few S.recurvalis. We only had a few regular migrants so overall, in the spirit of autumn 2021 it was somewhat lesser than expectations but was nevertheless exciting and atmospheric and good to meet up with Kojak and the Portland obs gang. Also great to meet Ian Lewington who is also our Oxon county recorder. The system intensified into rather stormy weather especially by today which blew a few seabirds round.
In addition to a nice little range of migrant moths highlights also included Kittiwakes, Gannets and auks migrating, a Little Gull at Chisel Cove, a Pom off the Bill at first light, an Arctic Skua yesterday, a couple of flocks of Siskins wheezing around but apparently the rarest thing we saw were hundreds of Black-headed Gulls moving west at the Bill which we only sub-consciously even noticed until Martin told us such a movement is somewhat unprecedented at the Bill (See Portland Blog HERE).
Monday, 18 October 2021
Since mid- July I have done 34 birding sessions (according to Ebird which is most but not all), usually an average of 4 hours (including some all-dayers and some quickies). So that's approx. 136 hours in the field this autumn so far with concentrated effort in the last two weeks. So far I have found absolutely nothing in the way of description bird species. Got to be one of my worst autumns that I can recall. Seen a few good birds such as Purple Sandpiper, Purple Heron and an influx of Cattle Egret locally and also seen Long-toed Stint and White-tailed Lapwing and found a few little bits like Wood Sand, Great Egret and Whimbrel. What with screwing up my Corvo trip too (and missing Prothonotary and Cape May Warbler there More grippage here ), not being able to travel to Bulgaria and spending literally all day at Beddington yesterday to dip the Penduline Tit there (a first for the farm) , this has to be one of my worst autumns but not sure it tops the 2016 disaster ( HERE). Since I did this post HERE the most recent autumns have also been pretty good , 2017 was really good for local finds, 2018 was absolutely epic on Corvo, 2019 was mainly in Eastern Europe and 2020 was excellent British rarity hunting. Still got a few weeks left of the autumn so maybe still time to save the day but so far, so bad.
Luckily I do moths too, which I started as a way of doubling the chances of finding rarities and also bad weather for birds is good for insects so increases field work efficiency (shift taxon focus depending on weather conditions) and if I add the mothing hours (and a bit of noc-mig) its got to be another 150 hours (2 hours more or less daily) so in total that's near 300 field work hours this autumn. It's been better on this front with a few county rarities and scarcities including Vagrant Piercers (mega for Oxon and less than 10 records for Bucks), a good run of Clifden Nonpariels, a few migrants such as Gem, Olive-tree Pearl and Dark Sword Grass (all good inlanders), jammed in on the UK's biggest night of Radford's Flame Shoulders at Portland (plus saw the other local specialities), a Dark Spruce Knot-horn , Flame Crest and Dotted Fan-foot (goodies for Bucks) and loads of moth lifers (cuz I'm such a moth dude still).
It's not all sunshine and the inevitable bad autumns have to be endured but basically moths have saved the day. Anyway its not over yet- still a few weeks to go and more determined than ever to make sure once these annoying covid restrictions are lifted, that lost time is made up for.
Saturday, 16 October 2021
Spent today supporting Holly with her World of Twigg brand at the local pub craft fair. Please support small traders and creators this xmas instead of buying shipped shit from billionaires. There are so many equally convenient ways of buying gifts through online platforms such as ETSY, although not ethically perfect, its better than Amazon. Holly's shop is HERE . So many reasons for supporting local artists and crafts people directly including purchasing unique designs, often personalised and handmade, high quality, most e-cottage industries have small carbon footprints and at the same time not supporting culturally homogenising, environmentally destroying and billionaire making junk culture.
I've added a World of Twigg gadget down the side bar of this blog. View in web version to see all our products and services including nature friendly tree and garden work, specialist birding and nature trips to the Azores, World of Twigg cards and crafts, Thee Bryans music and Bird reports and books. Alternatively view on the Little Oak Group Website HERE.
Friday, 15 October 2021
Press release HERE
More biodiversity targets from the UN. Considering most of the last set of targets were not reached see HERE and HERE it is only rational to not have much faith in this 'top down' process. There was a bit of somewhat good news in the background of this week's COP15 see HERE .
So once all the hyperbole has blown through and the baby is torn to bits by the scavenging for the political and funding capital available, who knows what actual gains to biodiversity there will be?
A citizen/private led biodiversity recovery programme would in many ways compliment and even possibly exceed the potential of the establishment doing anything. The digital tools for cooperation and innovation are lying around everywhere and seemingly few people are picking them up. It would help if we stopped looking to the establishment (they can provide some broad frameworks but not much else), that's just lazy to think that a bunch of head-nodders with a made up title in a some select committee (selected through heavily corporate lobbied hierarchies for their ability to go with the flow - i.e. down the pan) can do the work that is our responsibility to do. By pretending they are anything else but some old bones to the world is their sin. How can they justify immense salaries if they admit that. If they admit that the money that is hoarded within inequality needs to be used to empower a citizen's global recovery they would need to stand down, to resign. That is exactly what they need to do. A humility for them to speak out to citizens, to declare their impotence, their subjugation, their enslaved positions is the best thing they could do. When little girls point it out to the world they clap. They clap their own scorning.
A more equal society for nature and people can only be achieved by the abusers taking the knee (through seeing the need to do so themselves) and the abused standing up. The Rewilding movement provides some leadership on this approach HERE and the further democratisation and privatisation of nature conservation can only open up new routes and possibilities.
Over the next few months we will begin rolling out the first wave of a campaign to push our small organisation forward to fly some kites on all this. We are going to stand up.
At home for the next few days. Did some vis migging, noc-migging and mothing in the garden. A few autumn bits Ebird list here, the highlights being Redwings, Song Thrush and Robin over at night, the usual Tawny Owls which have been vocal again for last few weeks, a Great Egret over Wheatley Services on the way up north a couple of days ago and today a Woodcock flew over the road on the way to Starbucks. A couple of NFY moths.
Spent most of the day moving into the new Loft Office at the Old Vicarage, getting ready for a new push at work once the autumn is over.
Thursday, 14 October 2021
Had to be done considering I was already in Yorkshire. Ebird list HERE . Nice to see some other birds we don't get down south with flocks of Pink-footed Geese going back and forth.