Sunday, 2 January 2022

Zach's Blog

Young Beddington Farmlands birder Zach Pannifer has started a blog which will be very interesting to follow. HERE.  Zach has been carpet bombing the farmlands in the last couple of years and already making Beddington Farmlands history by not only continuing the constant effort of forensically monitoring the daily fluctuations in the site avifauna but also been  finding some great local rarities including a first for site in 2021- a Penduline Tit. The farmlands has over 100 years of ornithological history so finding a first is no easy task and requires a lot of dedication and skill (or lottery odds luck).  

Beddington Farmlands is a pretty tough birding site, it's inland, relatively small (only 400 acres) and within a densely urbanised and industrialised area, so starting birding here is a good baptism of fire. However this unlikely setting and small size has some unique features. Ecologically the site has oasis/refugia/island like features and is also an urban heat anomaly (with localised insects and roost area for parakeets and corvids etc that come in from surrounding rural areas for the higher city night temperatures) and the site has features of a relict agro-ecosystem and has never been treated with pesticides or herbicides (so has well preserved arable weed seed bank and entomological communities). These features result in intensive biodiversity and these 'island effects'  act as both a migration marker and vagrant trap to birds and migratory insects. Other unique features such as old sewage farm habitats also create unique micro-environments which all combine to create a super hot spot which set within an area of great schools and a transient urban human population within a world capital city makes for an excellent birding 'academy' which boasts an alumni that have literally forged the course of national and global birding. 

Birding legends have graduated from Beddington such as Peter Grant (pioneer of gull identification and the new approach to identification, author of the Collins Guide) and other well known birders like Richard Porter (OSME), John Burton (CEO of World Land Trust) , Dick Filby (Rare Bird News), Bob Scott (RSPB, Ghana and Bulgaria conservationist etc), Simon Aspinall (author of Birds of the Middle East and as in Simon Aspinall centre in Cley) and many more plus even more important in a local context, the expert localists and local legends like Garry Messenbird, Derek Coleman, Johnny Allan aka Badgeman with a platoon of nick named front liners such as Dodge, Sick Note, Pyro, Kojak, Tank, Bulldog and many more. 

Peter Grant, John Burton and friends (above and below) in the 1960s (the bird group ringing hut below) 

Beddington is a great place to start the birding journey, a journey that has taken others in directions that has changed the entire birding and natural world. Whether it's those that stay local and maintain and evolve the great Beddington Farmlands birding institution itself or those that spread their wings and send Beddington Farmlands ripples round the world.  It's great to see the current 'head boy' continuing the century old tradition and will be great to follow Zach's blog for more teeth cutting in the 'fires of the farm' and Zach also has plans to warden on coastal migration hot spots and pursue a career in birding and nature conservation. This is real deal stuff and will be a good blog to follow. 

ZACH'S BLOG         

All my recommended blogs are down the right hand side bar of this blog when viewed in 'Website view' in both my blog list and the bird obs daily blogs widget. Website view is best to view any blog as includes constantly updating networked links and networked micro-blogging too (e.g. twitter streams). All blogs are part of an information universe (all my recommended blogs link to more recommended blogs)  so phone view is definitely not recommended to read blogs on as only shows individual blog posts and not all the networked information and updates in the side bars- in my case often much more interesting than my posts.    

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