Tuesday, 29 December 2009


2009 was all about the development of the main projects I am involved in- Beddington Farmlands, The Azores and a pro-environmental music project A good year overall with the usual disasters thrown into the mix.
The Azores

As for the foreign patch it had to be the best year yet for American vagrants and also record numbers of birders present . A September pelagic exploration trip by Simon and I was another highlight. October was incredible but despite finding some okay yanks the French and Swedes whipped our sad arses in the 'Eurovision Rare Bird Contest'.
Some 2009 links:
Corvo Blog by Olof Jonnson
Azores Rarity Photo Exhibition by Vincent Legrand
Corvo Birders Photo Gallery
and as always the main source of info:
2010 Outlook: Further winter exploration, new spring seabird exploration, new publications and the overall continuing contribution to development of birding on the Azores.

Beddington Farmlands

Pretty much all good on this front. New community birding tours, the Beddington Book is in its final stages, a new improved Beddington Farm Bird Group, new promo material, visits from new groups, the odd TV personality, new bird group members and some great birds. On the other hand first year ever I haven't had a Beddington tick and haven't found anything really decent since 2005.
New promo stuff here:

2010 Outlook: Publishing of the 'Birds of Beddington Farmlands', Beddington Farmlands at the Carshalton Environmental Fair, more birding tours and of course the continuing development of what will become London's largest urban nature reserve.

Eco-Music Project
Overall a roller coaster. This experimental pro-environmental music and art project is a rather chaotic little side line. However we got the album recorded, picked up a few fans (over 250 in total now) and by the end of the year got a new venue, new equipment and a Xmas track.
Promo stuff here:

2010 outlook: Who knows. Be warned more of this coming.

In addition to the projects also got some Middle East WP birding in. Soooooo.... the year started with my brother Paul and I on a soul searching road trip from Bulgaria to the Holy Land. We ended up falling out and he abandoned me in Southern Turkey . For the full story see this months Birdwatch supplement World of Birds 2010 from pg 11.

We spent some time in Syria including a visit to see the Arabian Oryx- looking wild in this photo but being fed like a cow in reality because its natural habitat is drying up.

We recieved a warm welcome where ever we went- this bunch of kids ended up stealing our car but in fairness to them they did bring it back- but stole our bird guide- which I didn't mind too much.

I made it back to Blighty in time for the spring. We finished stage 1 of our pro-environmental music project:

A good spring at Beddington with highlights including a Sandwich Tern, a Spoonbill and an impressive Buzzard migration. Highlight was the controversial 'white-winged Gull' which some experts believe is Beddington's second Glaucous-winged Gull.

Spent a couple of weeks of the summer back in the Middle East with Darryl. This time it was eastern Turkey on the border of Iran. Closest to death we came was not from terrorists but from the local kids, local dogs and electric storms. Photos below are Bald Ibis (more feral stuff on the verge of extinction) and Spur-winged Plover.

We started our community birding tours at Beddington during the autumn with the help of the Urban Birder- David Lindo:

In September I made the best 'move' of my life. I moved onto my local patch with a view of the northern lake and Irrigation bridge. I call it the Beddington Observatory.

Then came the autumn!! What an autumn. I spent nearly the whole of late September to October on the Azores. Highlights included the best year ever on Corvo for American vagrants and a pelagic trip where Simon and I discovered some rare seabirds including a new colony of Madeiran Petrels. Photos below are Fea's-type Petrel, Bottlenose Dolphin and Wilson's Petrel.

CORVO was mind blowing. Below are Dotterel, Yellow Warbler, Ovenbird by Rafa Armada and Bobolink and Black-throated Green Warbler by Vincent the Great.

Managed to get a main article in the Local Guardian about Beddington but failed in getting my photo in there. This is an old enemy after a friend of mine called Squeaky got his photo into our local paper after spending two months in our family home and I have still failed to achieve that- despite living here forever.

And the year ends with the beginning of stage 2 of our pro-environmental music project and a flop of our first track cyber-release.

And the plan for 2010- full steam ahead into the unknown.

Sunday, 27 December 2009


Looks like things have calmed down out there but..... the cold weather is set to return later on in the week.

Its been an interesting little spell of bird displacement. Typically Lapwings, Golden Plover, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Redwing and Fieldfare have been the main species affected with day highs of 181 Lapwing moving south and west, 24 Golden Plover moving west, 40+ Skylark (on the mounds as well as similar numbers flying over), 150+ Redwing, 75+ Fieldfare and 80+ Meadow Pipit.

We haven't seen these kinds of movement at Beddington since the early 1990's which could be attributed to a general warming of the climate. If regional temperature rise continues this could be the last one of these movements that we experience for a very long time.

Through most of the recording period of Beddington Farmlands, hard weather movements were a regular feature. On January 17th 1932 1215 Lapwings were recorded in hard weather. In 1955 over 3000 were present following heavy snow and on February 1st 1956 2000 Lapwing were part of a cold weather displacement that also involved 170+ coastal waders including 5 Sanderling, 23 Knot, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, up to 54 Curlews, 57 Ringed Plover and 22 Dunlin. The same day Beddington's first and only Purple Sandpiper was found.

Skylarks have featured strongly in past hard weather movements. During a severe cold spell from December 17th to 26th 1938 several thousand were present on the farm and many hundreds died. In 1963 between January 23rd to 25th there were 3000 present but the largest hard weather concentration occurred on March 8th 1970 when over 5000 were recorded.

There are some interesting points here. Firstly it is interesting to see how Lapwing and Skylark numbers were so much higher in the past hard weather movements. These birds are from the north or the near continent and the much lower numbers involved in our recent movements reveal how although these birds are quite capable of surviving the worst conditions that our bleak northern winters can throw at them- they cannot survive environmental changes which are human induced. Both of these species are farmland birds which have suffered severe declines in the recent past decades due to agricultural intensification. I guess one saving grace is that due to human-contributory temperature rises these species don't suffer so much in hard weather. Could be nature's life line- keeping these populations going while we sort our act out.

Thursday, 24 December 2009


Here's an alternative Xmas song from our music project 'Thee Bryans'. The projects' concept is to highlight that humans are part of Nature and to display the critical connection between awareness/acceptance and environmental/social decay- (or put another way- the connection between 'ignorance' and environmental destruction). This song is an attempt at 'a Christmas song for everyone' which both offends and celebrates differences between human groups, trying to make the point that reality does not have to be offensive or a cause of conflict between groups once differences are accepted. The ultimate acceptance is being able to mock something without offence caused. In a wider theme this is relevant as unmanaged conflict (personal and inter-personal) is suggested as a root cause for social and environmental decay and awareness and acceptance holds part of the answer to social and environmental improvement.

Lyrics to this song here:

Here's a website: http://www.theebryans.com/


Monday, 21 December 2009

Participation Government

We all know that our modern democracies are not democracies at all but are indeed elected aristocracies. As a consequence, interests of a minority are expressed at the system level, resulting in an unfair and uneven playing field- rigged against the masses and the 'common good'- one symptom of which is environmental destruction.

Everyone knows that the answer lies in people empowerment to stand agaisnt tyranny but the problem of mobilising that power has always been the limitation on fulfilling that ideology.

Technology is the major driving force behind revolution- ideas have to wait until the technology has arrived.
The technology has now arrived.

This okay film helps to explain:

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


I will be surprised if this weather doesn't cause some disturbances.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Birding: A Lifestyle- Not a Hairstyle

Birding is a lifestyle for me and not just a hobby. All aspects of the world around us are connected to birds directly or indirectly. Even political decisions and changes have fundamental effects on bird populations. In my opinion there are fundamental political changes occuring at the moment as Britain is going through a restructuring- a redistribution of wealth and a redistribution of power. Part of that restructuring will involve local communities and local businesses stepping up to the plate in terms of solving both environmental and social issues which are affecting their immediate environment. As central government resources are depleted I think we will be left with no choice but to sort things out ourselves at the local level.

The environment is now top of this political agenda and this is my main area of interest for my local area. In the past local authority has failed Beddington Farmlands by not enforcing the terms of the planning conditions set out in our public enquiry, the RSPB and the WWT have not been in a position to get deeply involved, the corporations running the site have delayed restoration and the conservation management plan has been widely ignored, target species have been lost, there has been encroachment by industry in the disguise of recycling units across the east side of the farm and we lost a whole area of protected woodland which was illegally felled in the hope of utilising a planning loophole. In the last ten years there is evidence to suggest that nearly 50% of species at Beddington have been adversely affected.

Beddington farmlands is not an SPA, is not a Ramsar site, is not an SSSI- it is simply a great place to see birds near to where we live. It's a local patch. The national conservation bodies simply need to concentrate on preserving the most important national areas- they really do have bigger fish to fry first. The local areas need to be protected by local birders, who hopefully through inspiration and advise from conservation bodies like the RSPB and WWT can build up local interest in birds from a wider community, help to conserve the area through working teams, run birding workshops, tours and events to educate the local people about birds and help them to appreciate what it is we appreciate about birds.

If people in a local area value birds, they will want them to be part of their local environment and they will contribute and support efforts to build local nature reserves. Building local nature reserves (or other social and envioronmental projects) by local people also builds community and helps to address wider social problems. Helping out to bring about positive change in our own immediate environments, is the best thing that any one can do in addressing the social and environmental problems which plague our generation. In short, for me a love of birds and birding is the answer to everything!

The Birding Far Right

Just enjoyed reading the latest BB, I couldn't help thinking that it read a bit like 'a far right' publication. 'Progress of the UK Ruddy Duck eradication programme' was one of the main articles and the best line was in the 'What makes a good alien' paper which read........ 'Quite apart from the ecological and economic damage that they may or may not do, I simply do not like to see alien species...they represent some kind of litter (and in many cases self-sustaining, increasing litter at that)'. The author, Tony Fox also goes on to say 'We must be ready to eradicate these escapes where their presence represents a clear threat to native biodiversity..'

Well I think the level headed quite understand that homo-centric ecosystems need to be managed well. The majority of the UK environment is either farmland (75%) or urban; man-made environments which are comprised of a majority of introduced and genetically modified organisms. Fundamental crops and livestock (cows, sheep, potatoes, chickens etc) are introduced organisms and our urban gardens are packed out with introduced species, even the Sycamore is an introduced tree (introduced by the Romans). The word 'native' is a perplexing term and really should mainly refer to the temperate forest ecosystem that would cover the UK if it was not for human modification. All waterbirds on gravel pits, farmland birds, garden birds etc are all utilising man made environments- often either introduced or escaped organisms themselves or feeding on introduced plants and organisms.

If Fox were to have delivered a balanced argument he would have also pointed out the ecological and economic benefit that the over whelming majority of introduced organisms bring to a homo-centric ecosystem. Eradication programmes and describing organisms which have been invited into our country as litter- well we all know what that sort of language is- very naughty when it is applied too broadly. In fairness to Fox and acknowledging it also important to overstate a point to make it-eradication is a legitimate conservation tool in certain scenarios because extremes measures are required for extreme cases. My favourite one is the shooting, poisoning and killing of domestic cats in New Zealand to protect the flightless endemics.

My point is the introduction of organisms is a fundamental part of being human. We have the privilege to choose, design and create what these homo-centric ecosystems are to look like and the introduction and modification of organisms is all part of it. Getting the balance right is what it is all about. Eradication is an extreme measure that should be applied on an case to case basis if so required and sweeping statements and broad policies based on ambiguous concepts like non-natives or aliens leads to poor management.

Friday, 11 December 2009


I made my final personal finance moves today well in advance of any major developments. I spread my moves out but are based on some of the following events occurring over the next few months: A significant devaluation in the pound, another fall in house prices, another stock market significant down turn, a huge rise in unemployment, social unrest, more bank instability, the declaration of bankruptcy for the UK or emergency intervention by a UN body and a gold price crash. The false dawn that I also predicted is soon to be over and the darkest hour is on its way.

In short my survival strategy is to transfer all available funds into tangible assets, euro based investments, hard cash (get some out of the bank to cover temporary freezes) and getting recovery business ideas ready to be launched at bottom point.

There is nothing clever about all this. It is based on a simple fundamental principle- nature moves towards equilibrium and global interconnectivity and management is the only way of achieving that.

We will see. It's just a game. I've been pretty right so far over the last three years by investing in a deep down turn (and made some reasonable money for a small time flutterer) but that doesn't mean I will be right in the short term future. That's the fun in all this. We will get there in the end but nobody knows how and over what time frame.

Monday, 7 December 2009


From spaceship earth viewpoint, there is no such thing as alternatives. There is only one reality.
That reality is comprised of ideas of itself but there is no consensus at ground level- just opposing and conflicting ideas. That is reality- it is a constant conflict. A constant battle.

Leaders use the seduction of peace and the tyranny of fear to control herds but every sheep dog has it's day and when peace becomes an illusion and is then shattered and the tyranny of fear is challenged- it's party time. It's time for some new dogs.

The question for individuals conscious of that battle is a simple one- how can I get what I want. The answer is simple also. Whatever it takes- one way or another.

Chaos reigns. But out of it comes order. And then chaos.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


God!!!!, this is sooooo boring. Waiting for the end of the world has got to be the most drawn out affair on earth. It's worse than Lord of the Rings!

Now they are all arguing about bonuses. Of course they have to pay RBS bankers huge bonuses. These banks are looking for socio-types who put short term profit before anything and the only way of attracting these people is by feeding their compulsion for more bangers. If RBS don't give them what they need they will go to HSBC for their hit.

Devoting life to short term gain requires a person with a personality order. Short term gain works exactly like an addiction and requires increasingly larges doses and shots to sustain it. The only way of propelling this banking system forward is by increasing the 'money heroin' to the perpetrators of it. The end result is cataclysmic collapse as the perpetrators get more and more, reckless and desperate to sustain the negative feedback loop i.e. they totally loose it. It's Scarface banking.

Long term vision- investing in people and the environment for sustainable positive futures. Long term investments, stability and order. Regulated banks which serve the interests of society, that operate in an open, transparent and fair arena. Benevolent bankers that look after people and help them flourish in their personal financial lives. That's what we will move towards in the end because that is all that works over time.

There is nothing more satisfying in this world than watching some twat cop it. These bankers are going to cop it big time (best to get your money in tangible assets mofos).

There is a God (a force that moves towards equilibrium)- she just likes winding us all up but it all comes good in the end- (before it all starts again). Soooooooo- strap up cos when this pendulum starts swinging back the other way it could be travelling at quite some speed and will probably overshoot- could be carnage.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wake up

Evolution has a branch that long ago has taken the epic form of 'the Battle of Ideas' . In this pitch battle, contestants prove or disprove their ability in understanding of our selves and the natural world around us. Understanding gives power in controlling destiny and the course of evolution- the power to create environments- to create realities that we choose and want. This will in many ways be the ultimate achievement of evolution. To defeat the slavery of chance and probability and achieve empowerment and control. It will be in terms of survival, the most optimum state that can evolve. Since evolution began it was probably destined to arrive at this answer- because this is the end game- ultimate survival and optimum conditions by defeating the cruel indifference and endless suffering and impartiality of the natural world- only humans can create a parallel world and design a system where cruel indifference is replaced by an advanced and improved condition. Ancient spiritual and religious texts speak of this ultimate achievement of evolution-perhaps there is a deep ingrained blue print within everyone to reach this goal.

We are all taught the answer lies in unification, in wiring up, in managing planetary systems, in taking over from randomness and chaos, overcoming our basal condition, defeating the tyranny of chance and imposing order- an improved reality. A reality that humans choose.

So we have a choice:
a) Live in a world where economic growth is put as priority above quality of life. Economic growth is finite in a finite world and in attempting to pursue continual economic growth will result in destroying the environment around us. Money as God and the pursuit of individual gain over and above quality and health of the system, will result in a diminished quality of our natural environment, inequality which breeds social chaos, physical and emotional malnutrition which breeds impoverishment and sickness- a world devoid of dignity and honour where we descend to our basal human condition-one of constant apprehension, mistrust and uncertainty.

b)Create a world where quality of life is the main goal. Where the end game is to create an environment which is inspirational and amazing. Where individuals are nurtured and given what they need to prosper in order to fulfill their tasks in creating this world. A world where we share our space with animals, birds and plants in a symbiotic relationship of well managed homocentic-ecosystems intricately interwoven into the natural world. A reality where trust and community replaces mistrust and individualism. As individuals focus on engagement in a positive, enlightening and fulfilling environment there is not so much need for symptomatic control as the root cause of social and environment ills has been tackled. Instead of a constant engagement in cures- there is a constant engagement in positive and inspirational pursuits.

The choice really is a human choice. Choice is a funny thing- it often involves punishment and redemption when we make the wrong choices which forces a reappraisal and then a correct choice (not much choice in that). Money is not God and Economic Growth is not the raison d'etre for human existence. An advanced state of consciousness is God, creating an improved human condition is the raison d'etre for human existence.

There are consequences to all actions- watch the world over the up and coming months to see the consequences of our post war actions. Apocalypse now, well hopefully- the end of the world- yes hopefully. The end of an unsustainable and money centred world- well atleast our immediate world. There have been many worlds in history across time and space- just alternative realities which we choose to create. It is a series of cycles. It is time for a new skin. Hopefully it is time for some major ground to be won in this environmental and social revolution.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Weeble wobble

Middle East looks a bit shakey.

Weeble wobble soon they'll all fall down.