Monday 29 May 2023

Spot Fly returns

I might have heard Spotted Flycatcher a few days ago but a confirmed sighting of a singing bird this morning. Good to know they are hanging in round here (unlike Blackcaps which seem to have been wiped out this year in the garden). Maybe the one this morning was one of the couple of hundred that migrated over Portland last week as they seem to arrived late and en masse this Spring HERE. In the past they've usually arrived here in early May. 

Jay yesterday and the Spot Fly today takes the garden year list to 56. It seems quieter this Spring in the garden (mainly because the Blackcaps used to be vocally dominant) but also seems like less numbers of Blue and Great Tits- maybe bird flu is taking a silent toll on passerines? Ebird list from today HERE. Ebird list from same time last year HERE which shows there were lots of young birds around which are not evident at the moment apart from the first juvenile Starlings. 

The days have been warm and sunny but the night clear and cool so the mothing is still slow going- up to 109 species now. A few new for years and other moth highlights from the last few days below. There's also been the odd Red Admiral around and a Demoiselle which I can't pin down to either a female Banded or a Beautiful.   

Overall the absence of young birds, lower bird species counts, lower territories, late arrival dates and depressed numbers of moths are presumably all due to the cold and wet Spring, characterised by heavy rain earlier on and now a persistent north easterly wind. 

Spotted Flycatcher (a pic from last year) 
Scorched Wing
Toadflax Brocade
Figure of Eighty
Commom Wainscot- the first of hundreds
A nicely marked male Common Swift
Light Emerald 
Another unusual Treble Lines amongst the moth of the moment (double figures daily)
Rustic Shoulder-knot (left) and Large Nutmeg
Mission drift in the mini-farm bean bed which has now been turned into a dinosaur swamp 

Friday 26 May 2023

New Geese

 A new addition to the mini-farm this week with the acquisition of 12 geese eggs which we will incubate and if successful give them back to the Little Oak Farmstead in Surrey and maybe keep one here.  

102 moths on the Old Vic year list now. 

There's been a Monty's and Spotted Crake at Otmoor this week and I've already missed Night Heron and Black-winged Stilt there this year. If this keeps up it will loose it's reputation as the rarity black hole of Oxfordshire. Might have to bunk off soon to get over there- stuck to Mondays at the moment as the only flexible spare time I have. 

Geese eggs in the incubator. 
Dark-barred Twist, Syndemis musculana- NFY
An interesting bi-coloured Treble Lines- up to 25 of these a night at the moment 
Brown Rustic- NFY. I also got to around 100 species for the year around the same time last year despite a greater effort this year, although by the sounds of it everyone is experiencing a pretty slow mothing year. If previous years are anything to go by it won't be long until we are getting 100 species a night and could add another 400 species between June and September and many (apart from the winter and early spring specialities) of the species we've recorded in the first 100 will be recorded in that period too. It's hardly worth lighting up until June or rather its crucial to be lighting up as much as possible from now on. 
Most interesting job this week at work (the paid sort) was this job in Tooting and doing my best to talk the directors out of reducing these trees but rather lift them, remove deadwood and cutting back from the property. I often hear people saying the trees are too tall but there's no such thing as a tree that's too tall and it's not the tallest trees that fall down in the storms its the unmanaged ones and reducing trees for light reasons is counter productive usually within 2 years. Reducing trees actually weakens their roots and generates dense (so increases shading problems) and weak regrowth and the pruning cuts can get infected too. Sometimes its necessary to reduce trees to control root growth but like everything in nature- gentle intervention that directs and mimics intricately evolved natural processes (lifting and thinning replicates natural forest processes) is the best approach to management. I literally have no idea why so many people like mutilating everything including their own bodies. Presumably it's just another outcome of a simple economic measure to govern society- destroying and repairing things generates more money in the short term but creates a lot of ugliness and suffering in the process with lots of unaccounted externalities like long term value loss but I still don't understand why there is such an individual appetite for tree owners as it costs more money to the individual in the short term and longer term too. I guess there is a perception that is propagated in the population presumably perpetrated by aggressive sales people in the arboriculture industry where people think that a butchered tree in the garden is some kind of desirable socially conditioned outcome? 

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Inequality and Natural Capital

Everyone knows (and feels)  that when it comes to economic wealth, the UK is a very unequal society and that inequality is growing over time (after falling for decades from the Victorian period it started rising again in the last couple of decades and that has accelerated since the financial crash in 2008 and it accelerated even faster during Covid). 

According to Google: 

In 2020, the ONS calculated that the richest 10% of households hold 43% of all wealth. The poorest 50%, by contrast, own just 9%. More than that, for the UK as a whole, the WID found that the top 0.1% had share of total wealth double between 1984 and 2013, reaching 9%.

A couple of images below show this inequality and the trend over time. 

Is there any disagreement that Fundamental Capitalism is now failing? I think the jury was out for a lot of the post-war period but I'm not sure there are many people now living in the UK that are happy with the prospect of inequality rising further and as we see more automation, big data systems and AI technology supplant existing systems the trend is only set to accelerate even further with more and more people being pushed into the low income class and the middle income class become smaller and smaller while the top percentiles increase exponentially. According to the World Economic Forum, one of the biggest challenges that western societies face in the future is mass obsolescence. There will almost certainly be a period where automation and AI will cause the loss of at least 25% of all jobs and a delay for new jobs to be created. There is also the possibility that it is simply impossible to replace all those jobs with new jobs and it looks like the era of 'not-real jobs' in government and charities is also scaling back and lets face it how many of us want to or are even capable of, are perky or interesting enough to do the new not-real jobs like having an Only Fans page, selling your farts on the internet, running a you tube channel or a big tik-tok following, being a successful online day trader or crypto investor or being an influencer. Let's face it, for a lot of humans, particularly if you live in the UK, it aint looking too good out there.  

So what does the collapse of Fundamental Capitalism look like? I think it looks like what we see around us happening now- , the increase in inequality, the extermination of the middle class, polarisation of society, lack of motivation, a lack of opportunity, a breakdown in stable societal structures and hierarchical structures, a mass demand for banality and not being able to see much of a future. Fundamentally it also looks like the disconnection of people from nature and natural systems.

I also think that alongside that collapse we are beginning to see what a post GDP paradigm will look like. Fundamentally upgrading Capitalism into Sustainable Systems involves the capturing of externalities into value models, basically bringing things in like the value of Ecosystem Services into the market place. It's all started already, carbon credits, natural capital accounting, net gain, net zero and all building on ESG frameworks and the roots of multi-metric systems. 

Indeed most of what is happening at the moment is green wash and bullshit and we are probably several extreme disasters (including wars of many shapes and forms) away from the kind of policy and technological changes that are required to actually move out of the GDP paradigm into a paradigm that measures growth in Ecological-Economic and Social terms.  Presumably any new system in the future will be firmly digital based using big data and AI to manage complex planetary (and interplanetary !) management challenges including the redistribution of wealth and new digital based hierarchical , reward and motivational systems plus ecological management and natural capital management. 

The more the GDP paradigm fails, the more hope there is for change. The worse things become the more hope there is for people to start demanding fundamental change. A lot of us are in a situation at the moment where things are shit but not shit enough to do anything about it. The wolves are howling out on the perimeter but they haven't crashed the doors down yet and started chewing on your nuts. That might be different for the new generation which are basically being thrown from the education bubble into the jaws of the canines so its more in their interest to drive these changes forward.  

If you ask me, there will be a new type of wealthy person to aspire to be in the future and we can already see that coming too with the rise in millionaire and private nature conservation. There is a new elite emerging- the Natural Capitalist, someone who doesn't show off their large mansion and fancy cars and material wealth but someone who is defined by how much natural capital they own- how many species are in the land they own or the territory they manage, how much carbon sequestration, what is there Nature Positive and Carbon Positive value? Corporations are beginning to take on this value system and following COP15 there are now UN policies being introduced where companies now need to start reporting on natural capital. Biodiversity is the next carbon and it looks like we are set to see Biodiversity credits and biodiversity markets appearing soon- something I would fall over myself to get involved in (unfortunately I'm just a pleb with no elite contacts so might just be a big fan of all this and maybe invest a bit in it).  

A new system needs a new Elite and what better type of Elite is there than an Elite that manages the planet sustainably and responsibly, drives the recovery of nature and generates more global equality. Personally I'm not a fan of Fundamental Communism or Socialism (I've always run my own business in a blended form of capitalist values and social and environmental models)  and I believe that a gentle hierarchy, a gentle inequality is a better solution, so enough incentive to climb and also enough  dire consequences if your lazy but not too steep and one with a large and healthy middle class.  The current way that nature is managed is mainly through NGOs which is basically a communist like structure where nature reserves are collectively owned. This doesn't work at scale as we know (just look at the biodiversity trends) and that needs to change too with a more private and market focus. 

Fundamental Capitalism and the GDP model (and nature being managed through collectives as a counter measure to that) was a crude way of dealing with the first stages of all this, just a way of dealing with abject poverty and creating global systems (at the expense of the environment and ecology) to form the foundations for the next stage of societal evolution. In that next stage I'd like to see a new middle class emerge, the Natural Capitalist middle class which is involved in a return to land ownership and nature, the dismantling of intensive agriculture and the rise of regeneration in private hands and the generation of a wealthy thriving private natural capital economy. At the moment this is already happening in the elite upper income class but a sustainable society needs a growing middle class in this sector. 

Fundamental Capitalism is indeed failing but a return to Nature and private nature ownership is ( for some of us), hopefully a solution. 

Tuesday 23 May 2023

The Old Vic- a few recent moths

Now on 99 species for the year. A few recent NFYs below. 

Eyed Hawkmoth
Purple Bar
Sandy Carpet
Scalloped Hazel 
Rustic Shoulder Knot- it's that time of year again when Large Nutmegs are appearing and other similar looking species 
Yellow-faced Bell 

Monday 22 May 2023

Otmoor RSPB

Did a couple of hours at Otmoor this morning. Ebird list HERE.  Highlights included 3 Common Crane, 9 Hobby feeding on dragonflies (Hairy Hawkers and Four-spot Chasers) over Greenaways, Curlews, Garden Warblers and Marsh Harrier.  

Garden Warbler was a year tick. Apparently I'm on 282 species this year HERE which includes trips to Az and Bulgaria. 

Common Crane (four to five birds on site currently) 
Hobby- there were up to 30 a couple of weeks ago but only 9 now 
Sedge Warbler
Azure Damselfly - loads of these in the sheltered areas. Also Hairy Hawkers and Four-spot Chasers and on the butterfly front Orange-tip, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady, Peacock, Large White and Brimstone.

Sunday 21 May 2023

The week that was

Quite a busy and productive week. Looked at 16 jobs at work including a £35K contract (which is the upper end for us for one job), planted out the mini-farm, also got the latest Azores report nearly finished, had a couple of meetings including the new Beddington Farmlands Campaign spearheaded by the Wandle Valley Forum, visited the farmlands too and stayed at my mum's who had seven church friends from America crashing at hers, had a viewing on a prospective new base and the usual mothing in the garden and the mini-zoo stuff and all the usual blinking admin and paperwork (including the probate stuff), while meanwhile having to get it all done while being woken up by Isaac up to five times a night (teething)  and then dealing with the tornadoes that are the boys during the day. 

While travelling between here and London and between jobs  it's a good time to listen to podcasts and lately I've been getting through the Green Finance Institute podcasts, keeping up with Dieter Helm's podcasts and been listening to stuff from Lex Fridman about AI and for pudding- some Taylor Swift pop tunes. I try and end every day with an hour or two (if I can stay awake) with Netflix (been watching How to get rich (actually quite a smart show on sound financial management for US citizens) and Black Knight this week). Books that arrived this week to read include Birds of Australia and Wildlife of Australia by Sam Woods & Co (Uni mate) and Isabella Tree's latest Wilding book and also bought old copies of Wilding and Derek Gow's book to get some more ideas of how to manage our Bulgaria plot and hopefully soon our new base. 

A few recent pics:      

Rough-winged Conch, NFY. Now on 92 for the year. 
Light Brocade, NFY
Heart and Dart- NFY. The first of many. Also the first Orange Footman and Buff-tip have appeared now. 
A bit of Treble Line variation- the most abundant moth at the moment with up to 15 a night 
Another Cnephasia 
Started planting out the mini-farm with started plants from Thame Market (above and below) 

Jacob does two minutes work which I manage to capture on camera to create a good parenting myth pic
A rare moment when my mum isn't scorning me 
We viewed this property this week in Oxfordshire- a nice cottage and one acre plot. Due to school placement issues we might need to stay local rather than move to the coast and also because of the bereavement and  all our money being scavenged by inflation and interest rates (the Oligarchs are pulling their nets in)  we can't afford to get anything much bigger than this. As usual the divine process is doing its thing and burning any grand plans of mine, which usually works out for the best  

Friday 19 May 2023

The Old Vic- Puss Moth

Puss Moth this morning which is a first for the Old Vic- now on 584 moth species for the garden with 17 NFYs this morning alone taking the year list to 87. 

Here's a few highlights and mumblings. Another Common Quaker this morning too- surely the latest one I've had here. 

Puss Moth- stunner! 

Great Prominent- a good one for the garden
Poplar Kitten
Rustic Shoulder-Knot
Not sure on this- May Highflyer? Update 280523, Yep confirmed (thanks Dave) 
A couple of pugs (above and below)- not sure if the top one is a worn Foxglove or a bright Oak-tree or Double-striped and not sure if the bottom one is just a Common Pug or something like Grey Pug? Update 280523- yep its a Common (thanks Dave).  According to the excellent Upper Thames Moths website HERE pugs to look out for this time of year include (in order of probability)  Common, Mottled, Brindled, Oak-tree, Dwarf, White-spotted, Foxglove, Double-striped, Lime-speck, V-pug, Grey Pug, Ochreous, Green, Freyer's, Shaded, Narrow-winged, Currant, Pinion-spotted, Pauper/Fletcher's, Haworth's and also recorded but unlikely (5 or fewer records) include Wormwood, Larch, Satyr, Marbled, Netted, Tawny-speckled, Marsh, Toadflax, Juniper, Slender and Angle barred. 

The first Cnephasia sp of the year. According to Asher's Common Micros of Berkshire the most likely species is Grey Tortix, C. stephansiana  (flying period is April to August) although there are other likely candidates including communana (flies in May) and asseclana (May to August) and incertana (also May to August) which can all only be identified by gen dent. Furthermore there are other species in a different genus that are similar looking including Isotrias restifasciana (can be identified by sight, flies May to July) and also Eana incanana (another gen dent job). So the take home there is forgot about them or collect them for gen dent and also keep an eye out for Isotrias restifasciana, which is generally smaller and overall more banded. 

Tuesday 16 May 2023

The Old Vic - slowly climbing

The garden moth list is now at 70 so slowly moving upwards but the temperatures were down to 5 C again last night. The run of Seraphims is keeping up, with up to three for the last four or five days. I checked my blog and I certainly haven't seen this many (or maybe any) Seraphims before.

Here's a few other light trap highlights from the last two days. 
Lime Hawkmoths- NFYs. 
Least Black Arches- don't get many of these here
Seraphim- enjoying the run of these
I'm pretty sure this is a Mottled Pug unlike the one I posted on the previous post 
6 of these out of the blue yesterday- Parsnip moth (I think) 
Not sure on this pug and getting a few of these indistinct jobs- maybe a worn Mottled? 
A nicely marked Muslin moth 
In the theme of early Spring moths showing in mid Spring which has been a feature this year, the Dotted Chestnut appeared this morning  

A few recent mini-zoo videos including the latest additions to the reef tank and the Emperor Scorpion moving around