Tuesday 30 January 2024


I'm getting quite into this new little local patch. Had another patch tick this morning- Peregrine. Ebird list HERE. Other highlights included 3 Chiffchaff and Stonechat. Cuttlebrook Ebird hotspot now on 75 species HERE. One of the Great Egrets was out on Shabbington Meadows with six Little Egrets this morning when we went out to drop Jacob off.  

The evenings are a bit milder now and had the best moth night of the year last night with 4 species- Angle Shades, Early Moth, Clouded Drab and Pale Brindled Beauty.

I finished my objection letter to the council in response to their plan to build all over this lovely little area. Objection letter HERE



Chiffchaff- a bit drab looking with yellow tones confined to the wing so along the tristis lines but I didn't hear it call and prefer my tristis to look more like this HERE
Female Stonechat
Peregrine patch tick. 
Nice to get an out of season Angle Shades to re-appreciate what a stunning moth this is 
Clouded Drab
Pale Brindled Beauty 
Thame Meadows Estate SUDS- I'm keeping my eye on this little hotspot 
Several hectares of this habitat made of  scrub, rough grassland and ruderal is what we will loose if the planning application is approved. This hosts a wintering population of House Sparrows (10 is my highest count so far) and other wintering birds and as a habitat type in the planning system is erroneously undervalued as proven by Knepp and other re-wilding projects, The attitude that this common habitat only supports common species is no longer a valid argument as these habitats are no longer common and common species are no longer common either.  My planning application objection HERE. Please log your objection HERE

Sunday 28 January 2024

Please Sign the Petition to Save Thame Meadows/ Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve

Great Egret

 Please sign the petition to save Thame Meadows/ Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve.


Also if you feel like being a soldier this morning for five minutes please leave a comment on the planning application site. Can be something like: 

I object to this development, this site should be an extension of Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve as per the Thame Neighbourhood Plan. Building on green space and ecological habitat is in conflict with South Oxfordshire District Council's declaration of a climate and ecological emergency and in conflict with numerous environmental and ecological policies of the National Planning Policy Framework, the South Oxfordshire County Council Core Strategy, The Thame Neighbourhood Plan, The Thame Green Living Plan and UN Sustainable Development Goals.   



Bird survey results on from last few weeks recording on Ebird HERE.


Saturday 27 January 2024


Somewhat reluctantly I've decided to get involved in the campaign to protect the nature reserve we have just moved in next to. The campaign leader Christina knocked on the door yesterday collecting petition signatures so I had declare that I was a wounded veteran local campaigner as there is no other sensible and more impactful thing to do than to support and follow anyone heroic enough to lead a local campaign. Local is the front line- it's where nature is actually saved, far away from the abstract merry-go-round world of higher level rhetoric. It's the trenches were ground is made and lost in the war for nature.  It really is the most important level in nature conservation and the space where everyone can maximise their personal impact in the world. 

Typically within several days of moving in, a public consultation started on a housing development going up outside our window on the reserve. This nightmare literally follows me round. I moved into Beddington Farmlands and a 300,000 tonne incinerator goes up outside my window followed by a societal scale criminal ecocide,  when I moved into Worminghall and started birding the airfield we were chucked off and they built an autonomous car testing site, meanwhile where I moth trapped at Waterstock Mill an application went in to build a massive lorry park (campaigners actually stopped that one- well its gone to appeal anyway) and now this. I don't think it's me, I think this is what it feels like living through an ecological emergency- it's a total war on nature. There's no escape from it and the only place to really fight it is on your doorstep, on your territory.  

So once again I've been going through dodgy ecological consultancy reports (these are some of the primary criminals in the ecological emergency as without these facilitators, the enemy within,  the developers couldn't get anything through), planning applications and good neighbourhood plans (I wrote the ecology section of the Hackbridge one and still have the mental scars to show for it). 

Anyway what it has revealed is that this area that I've been birding recently was proposed or is supposed to be an extension of a wider corridor of Cuttlebrook Local Nature Reserve so at least I can clear up my Ebirding now and have now got a hotspot for this area which makes it easier to collect and visualise data. Ebird data for Cuttlebrook with my recent sightings HERE. I've made a note in the comments which lists are Lower Cuttlebrook and which are the designated LNR. Now I've established that this area is recognised in the local planning system as having some ecological value as it is identified as an area that the LNR can be extended into, the threat of developers building all over it is even more troubling.  

In fact the Great Egret this evening was feeding literally on the spot they want to build on and there has been hundred of Fieldfares and Redwings feeding in the Hawthorns which the ecological consultants identify as low value. Ebird list from today HERE.

Great Egret (above, with Little Egret in middle image) 
Four Chiffchaffs were fly catching over flood water- again literally in the field they want to build on. Apparently when the Ecological Consultants visited here they just 'saw a few Magpies'. I know we can't readily get to the Elites behind the war on nature but we can get to their foot soldiers- the dodgy Ecological Consultants who under-report and undervalue sites. To be fair I've only quickly looked at the Ecology reports but its always the same story- no property developer would be hiring a consultant that is going to put obstacles in their way. I suspect as usual I'll find surveys done at the wrong time of year, at the wrong time of the day, in the wrong type of weather in order to record as few species as possible, whole taxon groups completely ignored or unsampled, poor consultation with any local wildlife groups, mitigation measures which are not only inadequate but won't even be implemented by the developer, BNG calculations at the bottom end of the values and the undervaluing of ruderal, scrub and rough grassland etc etc.  These assassins are arguably worse than the actual builders themselves because builders will build whatever you ask them to- new nature reserves, proper mitigation measures, sustainable housing with wildlife gardens etc. Unfortunately Ecological Consultancy is often very corrupt and these are the people in society who are responsible for Nature Conservation. This is one of the major prongs in the war on nature that needs to be defeated. 

Thursday 25 January 2024

The Renaming Game- Re-writing history

On November 1 2023, the American Ornithological Society (AOS) made an announcement regarding a significant change in the English-language names of birds within it's geographical jurisdiction, names that dated back to two or so centuries ago. The decision was fuelled by the acknowledgement that the naming conventions established in the 1800s were tainted with racism and misogyny, Many individuals commemorated in these names were associated with slavery, the displacement of people and genocide.  

Interestingly, the timing of the AOS announcement coincided with the escalation of a major displacement and massacre, often termed a genocide, perpetrated by the American-backed Israeli government on an ethnic minority. This juxtaposition sheds light on a disconcerting aspect of the US establishment. Rather than rallying against the complicity of politicians in the ongoing crisis, some academics appear to be immersed in unearthing alleged abuses on individuals long deceased, diverting attention from urgent contemporary issues. In a way, that distraction assists in massacre, modern day slavery and human displacement today ironically exposing those engaged in rewriting bird names and this rewriting of history as modern day slave masters themselves, projecting their guilt onto their long dead forebearers.  

This renaming of birds is framed within a broader context of an agenda propagated by an extremist left-wing group seeking influence in the Western World.  This agenda encapsulated in critical race theory and intersectional identify politics interprets everything through the lens of a Patriarchy and Colonial context, a context that needs to be dismantled. The renaming of birds named after Patriarchs and Colonial figures is part of that dismantling. Critics argue that this hard left agenda functions as a parasitic entity attaching itself to late-stage Fundamental Western Capitalism, aiming to sustain and grow itself through synthetic resistance against perceived immorality and injustices. The parasite  
feeds by creating controversy that attracts attention and traffic which is capitalised while encouraging others to virtue signal and posture while remaining overall complicit in a declining Capitalist state e.g. it is much safer and obedient to change the name of a bird, dishonour ghosts and extract value through academic activity than it is for academics to challenge flawed US foreign policy. This kind of synthetic and fake resistance acts like a secondary infection hastening the decline of a social organism already plagued by inherent flaws. 

This ideological movement extends its influence into various spheres, including birding, with initiatives such as rewriting history through changing bird names and in movements like low carbon birding. In many ways it's insanity, a response to the stress of fundamental collapse at a global scale. Therefore it is important to remain sane and retain established strength and powers.  The name Pallas's Warbler has become a magical and mythical name in its own right, not a single birder I know ever gave a monkies who Peter Pallas was as we worshipped this magical gem. Pallas's Warbler has become its own identity, elevated orders of magnitude above its flawed human namesake and if we are to get into identity politics as birders- we should fight to preserve the identity of these now established mini magical power houses. Pallas' Warbler is a powerful bird with an established identity and brand and its sublime beauty has converted many humans onto the birding path- a genuine path to solving the existential crisis that our species faces and a path that can save some of us from slipping into the insanity which is rising all around us. Pallas's Warbler and other well established bird names needs to be swiftly upheld and defended and attention turned back to the slavery,  ecocide and genocide occurring this very minute I write this. 

Friday 19 January 2024


There's an interesting paper in the latest issue of British Birds about Common Nighthawks in Britain and the confirmation that two subspecies of Common Nighthawk have been recorded in Britain. 'Eastern Nighthawk' C.m.minor and 'Chapman's Nighthawk' C.m.chapmani. The identification of the different subspecies of Common Nighthawk is covered in the British Birds article and there are also some notes on Birds of the World HERE

On reading the article I was reminded of a very interesting Common Nighthawk that Darryl and I found on Corvo in 2007 which at the time we suspected was from one of the Northern Plains populations as depicted in the Sibley Guide, an identification that Vincent Legrand has popularised on numerous occasions since but it's only in recent months that there is more literature available on this subject. 

The subspecies of this Northern Plain population is Sennett's Nighthawk, C.m.senetti which differs from the nominate as below (extract Birds of the World):

Identification Summary

Pale (the palest subspecies); similar to C. m. hesperis but dorsum pale and more grayish (less blackish), ventral bars narrow, dense, and grayish brown, and breast grayer (less brown); averages larger (male wing 186–223 mm; Cleere 1998)

There are nine different subspecies of Common Nighthawk in total and from what I can make out the most distinctive are 'Eastern Nighthawk' which is the darkest and most common form, 'Chapman's Nighthawk' which is small and has a white belly and 'Sennett's Nighthawk' which is the palest form and appears grey in the field. The other six subspecies seem to be more variable and less distinct although the southern races tend to be more cinnamon/rufous coloured. Additionally there are two other species of Nighthawks in North America: Antillean and Lesser Nighthawk, Antillean only differs vocally and genetically and Lesser Nighthawk likewise but also has some subtle plumage differences. Worldwide there are 10 species of Nighthawk, all from the Americas. 

The 2007 Corvo bird was indeed very distinct being overall grey in colour with any warmer colours restricted to the crown and mantle and scapulars. The remiges and underparts were strikingly cold lacking any warm tones with a beautiful cold marbling over the coverts and white and dark barred underparts also lacking any warm tones. The tail was slightly warmer but overall quite greyish.  

The white tips to the primaries indicate the bird was a first-winter and the lack of a white bar in the tail also supports that and eliminates the possibility of an adult male (which in addition to the white tail bar has a broad white throat patch too). An adult female tends to have a pale throat and the paleness of the throat is an indication of the sex in juvenile/first-winter plumage too with a pale throat indicating a young male and a less obvious pale throat indicating a female. It's possible the Corvo bird was therefore a first-winter female with very little contrast of the throat.  

Putative 'Sennett's Nighthawk', first-winter, possibly female, Covo, 2007 (above and below). 

The bird was extremely tame. Darryl and I discovered it while walking along the middle road in the fog just sitting by the side of the road on a wall. Pictured here with Simon. 

The primary patch is shown on all age and sex classes and distinctively the patch increases in width towards the trailing edge of the wing. In Lesser Nighthawk the primary patch tends to be closer to the wing tip and can increase in width towards the leading edge of the wing. 
The underparts are clearly pale showing the dense cold coloured barring. 
The greyness of the coverts and tail contrasting with the secondaries and primaries is obvious in this image which also displays the forked tail.  

Will consult some experts on this matter and investigate further but if we can conclude this bird is a senettii it will presumably be a first of this subspecies for the Western Palearctic and will need a formal write up.  

Thursday 18 January 2024

Frozen Otmoor

The weather was so stunning today (freezing cold in clear blue skies) that I bunked off work and had a look round Otmoor. 60 species involving nearly 3000 individuals in about three hours in the afternoon, Ebird list HERE. Highlights included 4 Cattle Egret, 3 Marsh Harrier, some showy Snipe and Water Rails in the freezing conditions and excellent views of the waterfowl concentrating on the unfrozen water in front of the screens. 

Waterfowl concentrating in the only unfrozen water on site
Juvenile/2nd calender year Marsh Harrier
Cattle Egrets
Golden Plovers- only a few around, seems like they have been frozen out of Otmoor and dispersed into the surrounding fields 
Any day with a good view of Pintails is a good day 
Waterfowl spooked by Peregrine 
Frozen scenes across the reserve 


Tuesday 16 January 2024

Garden Moth and mini-zoo update

With sub-zero night temperatures I haven't bothered putting a light on recently but before this cold spell the moth year list had got to three- Winter Moth, Pale Brindled Beauty and Early Moth. What with December moth, Chestnut, Light Brown Apple Moth and Common Quaker from the last couple of weeks in December the garden moth list is now on 7. Will be interesting what the mothing is like in this garden but I've got my eye more on the woodland habitat a few tens of meters along Cuttlebrook that I'm hoping I can get some lights on when the moth season starts. 

So without the moth interest Jacob and I have been working on the mini-zoo which we had to translocate from the Old Vic into the temporary rental which involved quite a bit of decommissioning (the Paludarium, the Reef tank and the Chickens were fully or partly decommissioned). We managed to re-house 22 Convict Cichlids with Sirens Cove (about £200 worth of fish that we bred), the Chickens went to Isaac's child minder, Izzy the Spaniel went with James and Vicky and a few bits came to end of their natural life expectancy but we did loose some fish and corals to stress and predation (during the move and when we mixed species together). So we are down to just 57 species of pets which is almost half of our target species collection. We can't do anything too ambitious until we get into our new homestead but we have added a few little bits including a gorgeous Mexican Red Knee Tarantula and a Tropical Orchid into the Chameleon enclosure. 

Pale Brindled Beauty 
Early Moth 
Mexican Red Knee Tarantula- a bit more showy than our Asian Fawn Tarantula (which oddly showed best ever today and seems to have repositioned itself under a bark hide instead of burrowed deep out of sight - image below) 

The albino Sharp-ribbed Newt with one of the Common Frogs 

Monday 15 January 2024

Winter Pics

A few pics from the Pheonix Trail this morning near Thame in sunny crisp conditions. No Waxwings unfortunately but good numbers of winter birds. Ebird list HERE. Highlights included over 1000 Fieldfares, 250 Skylarks, Red-legged Partridge and Blackcap. 

Fieldfares (aboves) with odd Starling and Redwing - click on to enlarge 
Long-tailed Tit
Winter male 'European Chaffinch' (a recently re-classified species complex)  

Sunday 14 January 2024

Cuttlebrook- a few goodies

This weather does seem to be shaking things up a bit round here. Highlights over the last couple of days in a short walk from the rental include Woodcock, 2 Great Egrets, a seemingly displaced Little Grebe in a ditch and today what looks like 2 Knot in with the Lapwings flocks flying around the Thame Flood Plain- seemingly being disturbed this Sunday morning by guns. Ebird lists HERE and HERE. 50 Waxwings have also been reported in town just a short distance from here on the Pheonix trail- my plan for this coming week in the odd weather was to explore the Pheonix trail and some tracks that go out into the Thame Flood Plain so could be interesting if the cold spell keeps stirring things up. 

What looks like 2 Knot in with the Lapwings- can't see what else they can be. Comparison of what Dunlin look like from distance in with Lapwing (below from Otmoor Feb 2021) showing much smaller bird with strong contrasting white underwing. Not Ruff either as jizz, ground colour and comparative size to Lapwing not right either.  Not the obvious prime suspect of Golden Plover as the underwings are also contrastingly white on GP and more stockier jizz and the bills on these birds are clearly longer than a plover. They were very distant but the pics seem to pic up enough details. A few more pics in Ebird link HERE

One of two Great Egrets, both were heading to roost. Presumably one of the same birds from my first visit out here in mid-December HERE
Kingfisher in the SuDS of the estate 
Chiffchaff on the River Thame- three birds still in the same area
The flood waters have now gone down - The River Thame where Cuttlebrook enters 
Jacob and I got up early to see if we could see the Otter again but we were beaten to the spot by a Sunday Fisherman