Saturday, 16 December 2017

Winter wonders

A pleasant sunny winter's day at the farmlands with 2 Firecrest, a juvenile Iceland Gull and a new group of four Tree Sparrows. Also checked out the moth tunnel with Derek and had 26 Heralds and 2 Peacock butterflies hibernating. The Twite was seen yesterday so is presumably still around, Cetti's are about although the Dartford Warbler hasn't been seen since the cold snap. 


 Tree Sparrows 

 Firecrest 
 Juvenile Iceland Gull 
 Heralds 
Peacocks hibernating 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Beddington Farmlands Review 2017

The year was dominated by the fall out from the construction of the controversial incinerator and that's before the chimneys have even started emitting dioxins and fine particulates into the local air. Beddington Farmlands was seldom not in the local and wider media in 2017 and featured strongly as a local issue in the June local elections. The campaign gathered pace as the year progressed ahead of a major push planned for the May local councillor elections in 2018, with the petition to enforce conditions and deliver the promised nature reserve having gathered over 3500 supporters by the end of the year. PETITION HERE

Here's a brief summary of the year in pictures and captions: 

WINTER 2017

The construction of the 300,000 tonne incinerator within the Beddington Farmlands Site of Importance for Nature Conservation and Green Belt set the back drop for 2017. 
This Black Swan was present in the early part of the year. A naturalised species in some parts of Europe. 
White-winged gulls featured through the winter. Juvenile/first-winter Glaucous Gull (above) and Iceland Gull (below). 

A great winter for Caspian Gulls. 
Habitat management winter works included clearing areas of the islands for nesting waterfowl

SPRING 2017

This flock of migrating Barnacle Geese was an unprecedented sight
Spring passage included a few scarce migrants including this Marsh Harrier 
Oak Beautys appeared at the obs moth trap in early spring 
This Black Redstart in the obs garden was one of the spring highlights 
Wader passage included these summer plumages Dunlins (above) and Wood Sandpiper (below) 

 SUMMER 2017 and the June local elections

The Beddington Farmlands incinerator was one of the local issues featured in the local political campaigns. This flyer was from a local satirical political group known as the People's Front of Hackbridge. Concerns about Beddington Farmlands were also voiced at the Mayor of London's People's Question Time. During the elections local political party leaders made pledges for Beddington Farmlands SEE HERE
The political bomb shell in the summer was the rejection of the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner Neighbourhood Development Group's funding application's to the Viridor Community Fund. The Community Fund was part of the section 106 agreement of the incinerator to provide funding to local community groups. The work of the Development Group have included stakeholder input into the Heart of hackbridge re-development including the creation of the new entrance for Beddington Farmlands (above) and a key part of their work is developing Hackbridge as a hub to Beddington Farmlands and the wider Wandle Valley Regional Park. Persecution by Viridor has now increased anxiety about the increasingly sinister Viridor agenda considering the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner is the statutory representative group of the local community and in theory should be the primary beneficiaries of section 106 funds. 
The 2015 bird report was reviewed in Birdwatch and Birdguides and highlighted the continual decline in wildlife on the site 
Former RSPB director and UK leading conservationist Mark Avery visited Beddington farmlands during the year and has pledged to lend further support to the campaign 
However the big news in the summer was the first breeding of Gadwall on site and....
the appearance of a Red-veined Darter in July
Summer moth trapping included many highlights including this Sallow Kitten
Upto 9 Hedgehogs were counted on summer evening walks 

AUTUMN 2017 
This fine adult Sabine's Gull was a highlight of the autumn 
This Cattle Egret was the highlight of the autumn- a first for the site 
Other interesting scarce migrants included Black-tailed Godwit 
On the insect front the big autumn news was the appearance of several Willow Emerald Damselflies 
Autumn waders included this confiding Ruff 
Autumn mothing highlights included this Scarce Bordered Straw (above) and an influx of Vestal (below) in October 

WINTER (again) 2017 
Caspian Gulls started making an appearance in late October and November 
The Twite found in November was another highlight of the year- a ringed bird from the South Pennine ringing project and the first at the farmlands for 13 years. 

THE YEAR AHEAD

The Battle for Beddington Farmlands has raged throughout 2017 but despite this the site is still one of the most important areas in Greater London for wildlife- ranked in the top sites for birds alongside Rainham Marshes and the London Wetland Center. However 2017 has also been a year of great losses of habitat. The incinerator is being built on land that was designated for wet grassland habitat and the new school development started on the semi-natural grassland in Hackbridge. More bad news came in November when the planning inspector announced de-designation of a further 10 acres of nature reserve to industry. At a rate of e.g. 20 acres a year- the entire site will be completely developed in 20 years. 

However there is a more imminent threat faced in 2018 which involves the decommissioning of over 200 acres of land from wetland habitat to dry habitat (as a consequence of the cessation of sludge disposal). This will almost certainly mean the loss of Lapwings on site if action is not taken. 

Time is running out and 2018 is the eleventh hour for Beddington Farmlands so please sign the petition to the head of Sutton Council to enforce conditions on Virdior and preserve the wildlife and deliver the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. PETITION HERE  

The Incinerator in October 2017 under the apocalyptic like skies of ex-Hurricane Ophela
 The new school development with the incinerator in the background 
 Wetland habitat which has been de-designation from nature reserve to industry land
Typical breeding habitat for Lapwing which is being de-commissioned 
The last two Tree Sparrows with a Carrion Crow looking on ominously . The population has crashed from a peak of nearly 1000 birds in 2007 to these last two birds this winter. The delay in restoration and lack of implementation of the London Tree Sparrow Project recommendations are most likely linked to the species collapse.  If breeding habitat on 100 acre and Southeast Corner are lost this coming year - the Lapwings (one of the last remaining target species) will be lost too. 
Will the Beddington Lapwings survive 2018? 

PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION 



Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Med Gull

Frankie found this nice adult Med Gull at the farmlands today. An increasingly scarce visitor to the farmlands. 







Monday, 11 December 2017

Snow at the Old Vic

Great to see the Old Vicarage in a quintessential winter theme. I was hoping for some good flyovers to add to the Old Vic bioblitz. There was a flock of Lapwing flying around and a flock of 25 Skylark flew over but I think they were probably just local farmland birds moving around rather than true hard weather movements. Also plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares but unfortunately no Hawfinches this weekend. 

The Laburnum tree fell down in the snow, which is a real loss. Planning on doing some winter works soon including sowing a wildflower meadow, upgrading the feeding stations and additional planting so can add a new tree then. 




 Adult Red Kite in the snow 
 Goldcrest- a ringed bird
 Long-tailed Tit
 Skylarks flying over the garden in the snow 
 Lapwings going over in a blizzard 
 The Old Vic in winter 
Jacob's first outing in the snow