Did Otmoor today. Highlights were a Water Pipit from the second screen (Oxon lifer), a Chiffchaff from first screen, three Marsh Harriers, a Dunlin, good numbers of Snipe and good numbers of Golden Plover at last. Also had a load of Goldies (about 400) near Bernwood Forest on the way over to Otmoor. Ebird list from today HERE
Tuesday, 25 January 2022
The Old Vic moth year list kicks off with an Early Moth over the porch light.
Monday, 24 January 2022
The two most polarised sources of news in this country are widely recognised as the Guardian and the Daily Mail. In terms of quality personally I think they are worse than the Sun which is neither pretentious or obnoxiously snobby and nobody really takes it too seriously which sadly appears to be not true for the Guardian or Daily Mail. For a modern, multi-source balanced view (well you get all the information anyway to construct your own narrative) on nature conservation and environmental matters INKCAP Journal is pure brilliance bringing together more or less everything from everywhere written about nature conservation every single week of the year.
I guess nobody reading this actually does only read one source of news from the old fashioned increasingly ridiculous and irrelevant pre-digital main stream media but there is a small chance not everyone interested in UK nature conservation and the environment have subscribed to INKCAP yet. If not here's the link.
Also while on the subject of the disease of division, great to see Birdguides with Lucy McRobert flying the flag for balance and choice here : ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA.
Sunday, 23 January 2022
A few more garden year ticks this weekend including Black-headed Gull, Fieldfare and Grey Heron. Now on 45 species for the year HERE . Highlights included a flock of 35 Siskin flying around the village (with up to four on the feeders) and the Blackcap is still around. Lots of territorial behaviour especially Robins and Dunnocks (singing and fighting), Collared Doves and Stock Doves singing, Greenfinches singing, Jackdaws inspecting holes, Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and fighting and Green Woodpeckers chasing each other this morning too. Song Thrush are still hard to come by, one was in the garden yesterday and there is a distant singing one but no territories in the garden yet. The Tawny Owls were calling again last night.
Went to Crocodiles of the World Zoo today with the family. Just when you think the weird world of Oxon/Bucks biodiversity can't get any more strange then this happens- a Crocodile Farm! . Basically a series of ram shackle agricultural sheds in the Cotswolds stacked full of crocodiles and reptiles. HERE. Apparently there are 23 species of Crocodiles, Alligators, Caimans and Gharials globally and there are a good selection of the species here.
Still haven't caught or seen a moth this year.
The mini-farm still has Beetroot, Kale, Parsley and Savoy Cabbage still ready for harvesting and the Onions, Garlic and Broad Beans are coming along. Might need to do a bit more bed extension and winter clearing before the Spring comes.
We've added a couple more species to Jacob's bedroom zoo. There are a couple of excellent outlets nearby at Bradmore Farm. A reptile shop called EXOTICS AT HEART HERE (check out this incredible species stock list HERE- over 150 species of Reptile, Amphibian, Scorpions, Spiders, Millipedes and Mantis) and an Aquarium called FISHNFINS HERE. This weekend we added Black-fin Cory to the Aquarium and a Giant Asian Mantis to replace the Syrian Hamster which unfortunately died this week (they only live about 2 years).
Friday, 21 January 2022
A quick update on how this is going (Background here) which is basically an investment drive to raise enough money to buy a 12 acre farm for regenerative agriculture/rewilding within five years and to support/grow satellite projects.
1) Further Investment in the buy to let market in Hackbridge (Hub of Wandle Valley Regional Park and Beddington Farmlands)
Going pretty well so far, we won an auction on a new buy to let property (at a very good price) and so far looking good in raising the finance and working towards completion. Refurb builders and letting agency all ready to move forward too.
All good on our existing rental property in Hackbridge. We continue to work on the Beddington Farmlands and Hackbridge Development Project in order to achieve community improvements and nature reserve integration in this area HERE to improve the whole environment.
2) Investment in Green Investment Funds and Stocks/shares in Green Transition/Alternative Markets
Not so good. As warned by my advisors, investments in Green Funds are long term investments (no expectation of short term gain) and indeed the Jupiter Green Fund we invested in has dropped by 15% since COP26 resulting in a 10% overall drop in our stocks and shares fund. That has been countered by good returns on Solona and Etherium cryptocurrency, punting the FTSE (currently shorting it with 2X geared ETF vehicle) and some steady traditional investments. Our KKR investment has been terrible too (the investment company that own Beddington Farmlands). Overall a trading loss across the platforms (HL and FTX) of about £200 (From a £5000 investment with another £5000 to invest once more experience gained) . By investing in Jupiter Green seems like we are basically subsidising the green transition which we expected but not quite to the tune of 15%! Anyway all new and interesting and paying the price for 'investment training' (aka being mugged off :-) )
3) Purchasing of land in project sites such as Bulgaria, Ghana and also UK and explore opportunities in carbon credit trading/ tree planting/ carbon storage financial incentives.
All good, our local partner bought a further 1000m2 in Bulgaria to add to the existing plot last year and we have allocated funds to construct a small lodge this year for birding holiday renting. Some ground clearance were carried out last week and currently looking to tender the lodge construction (a small 'mobile'/ready made wooden cabin/tiny house).
4) Growth in core business activity of green space management
All going well, busy through the winter and working on our online marketing. Working on one of our favourite jobs next week - doing the trees at the London Wetland Centre. Got a few tree management plans to do over the next few weeks too which is good winter work. Record turnover last year, so fingers crossed that keeps up.
5) The monetisation of projects in Azores and Bulgaria (through eco-tourism)
The lodge in Bulgaria is the main objective at the moment. Will keep an eye on the travelling environment whether to try and get the Azores Safari running next year. Hopefully the Azores pelagic trip will run this year.
6) Continue investment/improvements into current HQs in London and Bucks.
We got a new mop!
Tuesday, 18 January 2022
Monday, 17 January 2022
Another family day out and more exploring into the weird and wonderful world of 'Wildlife Parks' , this time West Midlands Safari Park. The prehistoric large mammal display is a clear highlight and the dinosaur display is one of the best we've visited too. These displays of incredible lost megafauna set the context of present day natural history and the threats to surviving megafauna which frames the park's captive breeding programs of extinct-in-the-wild and threatened species relevant, important and urgent.
The focus on ungulates, particularly antelopes and deer is a fascinating focus (quite an academic one presumably afforded by more populist attractions elsewhere in the park) and there is an incredible range of species including Ellipsen Waterbuck, Red Lechwe, Eland, Gemsbok, Barbary Sheep, Ankole Cow, Congo Buffalo, Cape Buffalo, Persian Fallow Deer, Eld's Deer, Axis Deer, Formosan Sika Deer, Blackbuck, Barasingha, Banteng, Bactrian Camel, Lowland Anoa, Philippine Spotted Deer, Pere David's Deer, Nilgai and domestic breeds of sheep too.
What with Sea Lion shows, all the other classics (Penguins, Lions, Tigers etc), Reptile house, Aquarium and Bats plus a full on amusement park and roller coasters thrown in on the side, this is pretty mega place but not one to visit while simultaneously attempting to inspire your four year old with hybrid large gull identification.
A lot of the deer groups were mixed up so not sure on the identification below (please jump in on any mistakes)
Thursday, 13 January 2022
Still house and work bound (been busy with both family and making various investments recently to save up for the farm- going pretty well, will update on how my 'natural capitalist' adventure is going soon). So still mincing around the garden and been having a look at fungi recently with the help of Lee Dingain. Here's a few which are new species for the Old Vic (now on 1023).
Tuesday, 11 January 2022
According to the former lead conservation adviser at Natural England, Jonathan Hickling (now retired), I'm not allowed to be positive about the new nature conservation framework and the capitalisation of nature. Check out his comments on this Birdguides facebook post below (the comments were removed from the post so I've reproduced them here also with the other interesting comments he was making ). He launches into an attack on me for being positive and keen to embrace the new changes and to deploy a diverse strategy to maximise opportunities (he calls that a rosy and narrow view) and even though my family are successful nature conservation/nature friendly small holding farmers and horticulturists/arborists he calls me a private sector worker with unfounded views, told me before I comment I should research first and someone who doesn't understand rural communities and that I live in a private working world cocoon. None of that is true considering I work from a rural small holding (where my brother lives and my other brother is an organic farmer in Bulgaria) in North Surrey where we operate our arboriculture/horticulture business and have spent a lot of time volunteering in the public sector at Beddington Farmlands and working in Localism. I also live in a rural village in Bucks with a pheasant hunting father in law, a father in law whose mates are all farmers.
Hickling also dismisses projects like Knepp and celebrity led re-wilding and the whole boom in private companies jumping on the re-wilding band wagon, dismissing it as a millionaire culture. I agree what he says when not all farmers are millionaires (e.g, some hill farmers) but a lot of them are, especially round here! Maybe he is echoing others people's concerns of a private wildlife inaccessible to the public- but a lot of RSPB and wildlife trust reserves are mostly inaccessible and kept low profile from the public anyway.
These senior government advisers (or at least former ones) don't do themselves any favours in terms of dispelling the myths of being detached from the people they are supposed to be representing. He sounded a bit worked up and really upset about Brexit and referred to an optimistic past and looks like a bit of an old boy. I can sympathise that things didn't turn out the way they had hoped, in the way they wanted but attacking people who still have a bit of hope and keen to look for a new road ahead is a bit odd. I didn't vote for Brexit for fucks sake, I wrote Revolution not Referendum on my ballot paper as I want to see Proportional Representation in this country and the introduction of multi-value indices to replace GDP (like New Zealand). If I can't live in a country that does that I'll create a parallel structure (a bubble) that creates that around me. It was actually an interesting conversation/debate and very helpful for me so I don't know why he deleted it. I was agreeing with him for most of it just could have done without the offensive patronising that clearly reveals some deep prejudices and polarised opinions (maybe the problem of 'lefties' that I keep sensing).
Monday, 10 January 2022
New baby lockdown continues and I still haven't been able to do anything but garden birding. Garden year list now on an ultra low carbon 39: HERE. Highlight was a male Blackcap yesterday and with a bit of sun, the raptors were up and had my first Common Buzzard of the year.