Thursday, 27 April 2017

Birding Forecast

 Looks like this northerly is losing its grip tomorrow and by the weekend we have a southerly drawing up from Southern Europe which switches round to a brisk south easterly on Sunday.

The Southerly could cause a surge of migrants but the level of cloud cover and precipitation will be a big influence on where and if things drop and concentrate. With such a deep southerly draw could be overshoots involved. The brisk south easterly on Sunday has got to be good for seawatching at Dungeness, surely Poms on the cards.

Raptors: The tail wind isn't always helpful to raptors but if its a light tail wind and a warm southerly airflow with clearish skies it could be interesting.
Passerine/landbird migrants: This really depends on cloud cover for dropping birds such as Wheatears, Yellow Wagtails, other chats and warblers. Even a chance of an overshoot such as Red-rumped Swallow with such a southerly airflow. Got to be good for Swallow and hirundine passage. Swifts are going to arrive in bigger numbers.
Waders: Peak time for waders now, just need a bit of cloud and preferably rain. The south easterly could push birds into the catchment. Could be interesting on the reservoirs.
Terns: That south easterly has got to be a guarantee for an influx of Little Gulls, Arctic Terns and other Terns especially on the reservoirs.
Waterfowl: Maybe Garganey still.
Gulls: Still not too late for a mega gull- the Glaucous-winged at Beddington was on April 17th and recently been a national mini-influx of Bonaparte's Gull and also an American Herring Gull in Suffolk.
Seabirds: The South-easterly could produce- spring skuas are gold inland but its a good time of year. 

Day out in the woods

Holly and I took Jacob out in the camper on his first day out to a nature reserve, to Aston Rowant NNR. The Bluebells were pretty spectacular and the picnic wasn't bad either.  

A field of rape behind the bluebells- a stunning contrast 

Cavier on blinis, brown shrimp, smoked salmon terrine, quail eggs, Orkney crab, makerel pate, french bread and greek salad- all MSC certified where relevant

Jacob in the field 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Spectacular Staines

Had a meeting back in the smoke about the Wandle Metropolitan Park so popped into Staines on the way back- it was brilliant- the whole South Basin was full of hawking birds going low over the water. 1 Little Tern, 4 Black Tern, 47 Common Tern, 1-2 Arctic Tern, 2 Little Gull, 5 Whimbrel, 1 Greenshank, 3 Little Ringed Plover, 3 Black-necked Grebe, 300+ Sand Martin, 50+ Swallow and 30+ Swift. 

Unfortunately a lot of the good ones were right out the back so couldn't get any decent pics. 

 Common Tern 
 Common Tern on left, Arctic Tern on right 
 Not an everyday view of a Great Crested Grebe 
This morning met up with Sue at Holly's and we all went to Oddington (North Otmoor) to meet Bill who showed us my butterfly transect that I've volunteered to do. Only had a Speckled Wood but the area is great for migrants too- Gropper, 2-3 Willow Warbler (above), Chiffys, Lesser Whitethroat, 5+ Whitethroat, Blackcap, and 2 Sedge Warbler all singing away along a small section of hedgerow which will be my transect. Also gives a view over the Flood field- the north part of Otmoor.  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

A Tory at the weekend, a Radical in the week

It's absolutely stunning round here- if I lived here I'd be a Tory too! Hold on- I do live here half the week- might have to become a Tory when up here and back to being a radical back in South London??  Shame that the money to keep this area so beautiful and full of nature has to come from building incinerators in places where not so well off people live and they have to destroy those people's wildlife too- an unnecessary and unfair high price to pay, there is more than enough to go round, plenty of clever solutions and plenty of fat bellies round here that could do with slimming down :-) 

A great few days exploring- Spring Magic! 


 Brown Hare - always on show particularly on Big Otmoor
 Third calender year Marsh Harrier over the Reed Bed. Bittern have been heard booming here recently. Both Marsh Harrier and Bittern breed at Otmoor in recent years- a recovery from over 100 years ago. Another completely impressive RSPB flagship success story. 
 Redshank- good numbers of breeding Redshank and Lapwing on the floods 
 1-2 pairs of Oystercatchers holding territory. Also had a Black-tailed Godwit on Big Otmoor but could only see one Golden Plover (strange to think there were 5000 here just a few weeks ago). 
 Sedge Warbler- loads around. Also Grasshopper Warbler, 2 Garden Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 1 Common Whitethroat, 10 Reed Warbler and 4 Cetti's
 At least three Cuckoos around including two males dog fighting. Also had my first Swift of the year.
 Leucistic Pochard 
 Red Kite being mobbed by Lapwing- a common sight over Big Otmoor
Bird of the day was one of the secret Common Cranes flying over the Sheep Field


The Old Vic bioblitz continues Previous Old Vic posts here . Here's a few provisional ids- will try and refine some of them- any help as always greatly appreciated. 

 Holly Blue
 Wren carrying food. There is already Song Thrush and Blackbird young in the garden. 
 I think the black stigma (the black line on the wing) makes this Dasysyrphus sp? 
 Leucozona lucorum- an easy hover! 
 Platycherius sp 
 Another nice easy hover- look at the 'beak' on that Rhingia Campestris 
 Melanostoma sp
 Nomad Bee sp 
 Scorpion Fly 

Scorched Carpet - also Common Pug, Brimstone and Hebrew Character in the trap (the new mains powered safari trap) last night 

Friday, 21 April 2017

A few recent observations

I've effectively now got three local patches- Worminghall area in Oxford (Otmoor and Holly's), Beddington as usual and also Staines in the middle where I stop off on the way between the other two. 
 Roe Deer - in the fields near Holly's 
 My first House Martin of the year at Otmoor RSPB 
 Bank Vole at Otmoor- a lifer - thanks Susy! 

  Primroses at the church in Holly's village- also Wood Anemone, Bluebells, buttercups and Cowslips in the church . Still surprised how few migrants in Holly's village- just the odd Blackcap, Chiffchaff and some Swallows. 
The first time I've been given evil's from a house
 Golden Plovers and Dunlin at Otmoor- e-bird list HERE
Chiffy at Beddington yesterday- also had 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat, 1 Sedge Warbler, 5 Reed Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Shelduck, 10 Teal, 5 Shoveler and 6 Gadwall 
Sacrificial crop growing well at the farmlands
 Kent Black Arches in the Beddington moth trap (Least Black Arches not Kent- cheers Lee)
Many-plumed Moth at Beddington 

The Hackbridge Development Plan - for Nature and People

Primary objectives in plan that will develop Hackbridge into a nature and people model district include:

3.1 Develop Hackbridge as a major gateway to the Wandle Valley Regional Park (WVRP) .Policy number:  EP1

3.2 Develop a new visitors centre as part of the gateway to the WVRP. EP1

3.3 Protecting/safeguard/Improve and open up public access to existing green spaces, including MOL for the benefit of the people and wildlife. EP2

3.4 Manage green spaces for the benefit of people and wildlife EP3, EP4 EP5

3.5 Develop and improve green links/corridors EP6

3.6 Minimise climate change through soft landscaping EP7, EP8 EP9

Then plan has been formally submitted and if accepted will become a statutory document that will guide all future development in Hackbridge.

More details here: THE FINAL PLAN

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Radical Conservation

We interrupt pretty pics, daily nature comings and goings, brain curdling simple story lines, straplines and other artery hardening posts to present a brief outline of radical conservation:

For the State of Nature Alliance  to deliver the objectives set out in their Response for Nature which can include specific objectives such as :

1) A Nature and Well Being Act to redefine the important of nature within society
2) Compulsory natural history education and regular engagement with nature reserves within the National curriculum
3) Mandatory biodiversity provisions for all new development e.g. habitat creation, housing design to accommodate wildlife, wildlife gardening etc, green roofs. Also to extend to industrial development.
4) Mandatory biodiversity provisions (stewardship) for all agricultural activity (including upland management) e.g. biodiversity strips, hedges, set aside, sacrificial crops, reduction in intensive practises etc
5) Mandatory biodiversity standards for all imports from abroad and for production of all goods- e.g conservation grade accreditation schemes
6) Strengthening of enforcement powers by planning authorities to enforce mitigation measures and ecological conditions onto powerful corporations including greater powers in s106 and community infrastructure levy agreements
7) Strengthening of the nature conservation network with increased protection powers for SPAs, LNRs, SINCs etc. No development means no development!
8) Specific area targets for nature reserves and nature corridors to be met by given dates e.g.50% of all land area to be managed within biodiversity frameworks and e.g. 15% of all land to be nature reserves
9) Specific targets for marine reserves too
10) Strengthening of wildlife law and enforcement

Most importantly these objectives can only be implemented in an environment of systemic change which includes:

1) Electoral and constitutional reform to provide a more representative and fairer democratic system that represents not primarily elitist/captialists interests (generally anti-nature) (see Green party attempts at introducing this in this coming General Election in post below)
2) Control on lobbying powers of corporations to prevent corporations buying policies that suit them
3) Control on growing inequality, which leads to power bias (often anti-nature)- capping CEO wages, controlling the bonus culture, increasing wages across the population (and extra money for conservationists!), controlling the housing market and creating genuinely affordable housing
4) Basically controlling fundamental capitalism and introducing triple bottom line indices to manage company performances - which should be based on economic, social and environmental performance
5) Re-defining societal values and developing advanced futures

The implementation of these radical objectives has be delivered through an alliance of conservation-NGOs such as the State of Nature Alliance that work closely with the political parties. The politicisation of conservation is the single most important fundamental shift required. Also the isolationism and competition within the conservation NGOs needs to turn into coalition and also unifying with all independent and other conservation efforts in the delivery of key objectives within a specific time frame via a clearly constructed master plan.