Thursday 28 December 2023

Xmas bits

I've managed to sneak out and check Cuttlebrook a couple of times over the Xmas holidays, checklists here and here. Highlights have been a pair of Wigeon flying over the Thame, the Egyptian Geese again (one of them is partially leucistic), Raven and Common Snipe. The number of winter thrushes have dropped right off (just a handful now) and I haven't seen any Lapwings or Golden Plovers flying around the Thame Flood Plain and the flood waters have dropped a lot in last couple of days.  It's been very windy over the last few days too so things might be keeping down. No sign of the Otter again or the Great Egret but there has been a couple of Reeve's Muntjac out on the path. 

Nothing from the moth trap apart from a Light Brown Apple Moth.

We added a few new species to the mini-zoo over the xmas holidays including a couple of carnivorous plants (one for vegetarians to philosophise over), two land Hermit Crabs and Pachnoda Beetle grubs. We had a shock this morning when we saw the Sharp-ribbed Newt in the Paludarium- we hadn't seen it since last February despite attending the enclosure daily. Considering it's a total captive audience situation in less than a square meter enclosure it's shocking that something like that can go unrecorded for 10 months. Who knows what's really out there in the wild? 

Reeve's Muntjac
Male Wigeon
Little Egret
The Sharp-ribbed Newt- now called Lazarus
One of the Land Hermit Crabs
Sleepy Richards- our Leopard Gecko 
Venus fly-trap, we also got Nepenthes pitcher plant
Xmas family meet up 

Tuesday 26 December 2023

The Year in Numbers

Here's a few numbers to indicate progress with Little Oak Group in 2023 using a triple bottom line framework; Economic, Natural and Social Capital to measure growth indicators in our projects and concerns HERE. Unlike previous years I've stripped out some details and also focusing more on our family stake in the group in line with the focus on this blog.  

Highlights included a pretty big haul of bird and moth rarities this year, preparing to move to a coastal homestead, economic targets met on the commercial ventures, good progress on the Bulgaria project and an epic birding trip to Corvo in the autumn.  


Income/Profit for 2023

Approx. 25% profit across handled contracts from Little Oak Tree Care and income from property portfolio and other investments. 

Net assets 

Land, properties, enterprise values and holdings in green stocks, bonds and cryptocurrency. NAV approx. £1.5 million.  


Land (not including property) owned and directly managed

Approx. 2 acres (3/4 acre in Sussex in progress and one acre and a bit in Bulgaria) 

Land managed indirectly/ contribution to management

Little Oak Tree and Garden care service over 500 private gardens and communal blocks equal to approx. 64 acres not including nature reserves and public spaces (large areas over 500 hectares).   

Project Species Inventory Totals 

The Old Vicarage: 1030 species (including priority species) all time (after I-record re-classifications), 469 species of moth in 2022 and 633 moth species all time

Beddington Farmlands: 2000+ species (including priority and red data species) all time. (See reports/website) 

Bulgaria : 336 species of moths and butterflies here and 167 bird species here

Natural Capital Monitoring Effort Indicators

Ebird checklists in 2023: 220 (approx. 500 hours)

Irecord checklists in 2023: approx. 121 (approx. 250 hours)

Bird Species recorded in 2023: 344 HERE

Moth species recorded in 2023: Approx 750-800: 469 at the Old Vicarage, 272 in Bulgaria HERE and a few more at Portland, Beddington, Corvo and Gran Canaria.  

Rarities found: BirdsSteppe Gull (Az), Wood Thrush, Grey Catbird (with David), Surf Scoter, Philadelphia Vireo, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat, Swainson’s Thrush, Grey-cheeked Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Red-eyed Vireos (Azores), Little Bunting (Bulgaria). Moths: Black-and-white Dart and Candlestick Dart (Bulgarian rarities), Beautiful Marbled, Scarce Bordered Straw, Convolvulus Hawkmoth, Dark Crimson Underwing at the Old Vic , Cydia interscindana in London, Luperina rubella and Cervyna ceravago were first for Bulgarian I-Nat project

Carbon Accounts

Need to actually work out some metrics on these.

Carbon sequestration assets: Land, managed green spaces, planting projects in 2023, habitat improvements in Bulgaria project.

Carbon Credit Investments: Shares in Carbon capture projects

Net Biodiversity Gain Accounts 

Need to actually work out some metrics on these too. 

Biodiversity Net Gain Projects: Owned land, impact on land we manage and land we campaign for. 


Facebook Pages Metrices

Beddington Farmlands: 4.2 google stars, 1.9K followers

Thee Bryans: 1.2K followers

Blog Views

267,000 views in 2023, 2.05 million all time for Non-stop Birding (the Corvo blog gets another 14K or so mainly in October) 

Publications in 2023

Portuguese Rarities Committee Report (1), Azores Local Reports (1), Birdguides Article (1), Trip Reports (5 on Ebird). 

Total Number of Project Publication Reads on Research Gate

18293 reads (all time) 125 research interest (which is 68% higher than average on this platform) 

Other social media metrics

Present on Twitter and Facebook in personal capacity and comfortably engaged. 

Personal bird and moths lists  

World bird list: 3189 (Bubo) 20 lifers in 2023 mainly due to taxonomic changes. 

WP bird list: 724 (River Warbler, Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch, American Bittern, Catbird, Chaffinch splits etc) (Netfugl ranking 92)

False WP list: 934 (Netfugl ranking 47)

WP mammal/cetacean list: 101 (Kept in Aulagnier et al plus Cetaceans from Wikipedia, added Steppe Mouse and Goitered Gazelle, omissions from 2022

WP Moth List (mainly UK so far) : Approx. 1000, 633 at the Old Vicarage, 50+ elsewhere in UK, approx. 300 in Bulgaria and a few scattered elsewhere) 

Azores Bird List: 255 (Ebird) Two new this year. Number 2 ranking on Ebird.

Bulgaria Bird List: 288 (Ebird) Twelve new this year. Number 23 ranking on Ebird. 

Beddington Farmlands Bird List: 224 (nothing new). Number 1 ranking on Ebird. 

Oxfordshire Bird List: 172 (Two new this year)

Surrey Bird List: 243 (Nothing new) 

The Old Vicarage Bird List: 97 (Two new ticks this year)  


Thursday 21 December 2023

Non-stop Birding July to December 2023 Review

Here's the second half of this year in pictures. As usual this blog logs the activity on projects which are part of Little Oak Group HERE
A mid-summer visit to the Bulgaria project in July was mainly focusing on moth trapping. Birding highlight was this fantastic juvenile Eagle Owl. 
Breeding birds on our project plot included Golden Oriole (above dog fighting a Roller), Turtle Doves (below) and Nightingales. 

Moth trapping highlights included these great looking Bulgarian rarities; Black and white Dart (above) and Candlestick Dart (below) 

Nice to finally catch up with Goat Moth in Bulgaria 
This stunning tiny longhorn moth, Neomorpha fasciella was another moth highlight from the Bulgaria trip
The big July news from back home at the Old Vicarage was that the estate went up for sale ahead of our move to a coastal homestead next year. A surprisingly poor month for moths due to lots of rain and wind but we did get a few highlights including the Reed Smudge (below) 

Summer holidays started at the end of July so we headed out to Gran Canaria for a family holiday. In between the foam parties and sandcastles I managed to do a bit of birding and twitched Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch (above) - arguably the rarest breeding bird in the WP. 
African Blue Tit (above) and Plain Swift (below) were great to see on Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria Giant Lizard was a herping lifer 
Gran Canaria landscape
Holiday shirts all round 


The weather improved a bit in August and had some good moths including our first Beautiful Marbled at the Old Vic (above) 
Blair's Mocha on a family trip to Selsey was another lifer 
It was a good month for Underwings with Blue Underwing/ Clifden Nonpariel (above), Red Underwing (below) and Dark Crimson Underwing (below that with another Red Underwing) 

Portland Ribbon Wave was another July moth lifer on Selsey 
The Old Vic mini-farm in August 

A few good garden moths in August included this stunning Convolvulus Hawkmoth 
A night's moth trapping at Beddington added a new species to the local moth list- Cydia interscindana
Dewick's Plusia at the Old Vic was a good one and there was also a good run of Delicates (below) 

It was back to the Bulgaria project in late September with Arjun and Roger. Highlights included River Warbler (above) which was an overdue lifer . We recorded 179 bird species during the two week trip Trip report HERE, Later we also added Little Bittern, Firecrest, Ortolan and Night Heron from the noc-mig. 
Roger and I took a short trip within a trip down to Burgas where the migration was fantastic. Little Gull (above) and Great White Pelicans (below) 

Penduline Tit (above) and Gull-billed Tern (below) in Burgas

Arjun found a couple of fantastic birds in Kamen Bryag - Caspian Stonechat (above) and the 2nd Dusky Warbler for Bulgaria (below) 

We did a bit of ringing with Pavel at Branta Birding Lodge- this beefy male Spanish Sparrow was fantastic
Pavel and Arjun at Branta Birding Lodge ringing station 
The moth trapping at the Bulgaria project site was fantastic with several Bulgarian rarities discovered which will be the subject of a data paper for the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences . By the end of the trip the project site moth list was on 316 species HERE
Willowherb Yellow Underwing was one of the moth highlights 
We also made some good progress with the habitat improvements at the project site with the base for the pond excavated 

A good period of moth migration resulted in Scarce Bordered Straw at the Old Vic and a nice haul of rarities at Portland including Banded Sable (second below) and Dark Mottled Willow (below) 

Birding highlight of the year was a trip to Corvo with David. Absolutely epic. On our first day we caught this Grey-cheeked Thrush. Trip report HERE. A few other highlights below. 
Grey Catbird- mega! 
This Surf Scoter flying over fields was a surreal sight 
Philadelphia, Red-eyed and White eyed Vireo (above, below and below that respectively) 

David found this gorgeous Bay-breasted Warbler 
I found this gorgeous Wood Thrush 
American Bittern was an overdue WP lifer and a real stunner to boot 
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Nice to find this Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Wood Pewee (above) and Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron (below) 

One of the most amazing things on Corvo was the number of catharus thrushes present- Swainson's Thrush (above) 
An unresolved identification issue concerns this apparent American Moorhen- more to follow on this 
The moth trapping was a bit dissappointing on Corvo (but only had a travel LED). Slender Burnished Brass (above) was nice to see as usual and Chevron Snout (below) was a lifer .

We published the latest Azores Rare Bird Report HERE and also published a summary of the Corvo 2023 epic birding season on Birdguides HERE

Attended the Natural Eye Exhibition with Dingers in November 
Did some work on American Moorhen identification at Tring 
Had a welcome surprise in the November moth trap- a late Olive-tree Pearl 

December was a month of goodbyes with finally moving out of the Old Vicarage (above) and also saying goodbye to Mike Netherwood (below) 

After getting settled in our temporary rental home I did a bit of local exploring at the adjacent Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve and saw a few nice local bits including this Great Egret feeding on flooded fields by the rental house