Sunday, 31 January 2010

Essex Weekend

From top to bottom: Knots, mystery gull, 1st win Glaucous Gull, 'Rossi'- the Ring-billed Gull now in it's eleventh year and the Vange Wick Slavonian Grebe.

Friday, 29 January 2010


Okay I don't actually bird non-stop and do have to work. All of my work is in the environmental sector under the company name Little Oak in which I am a partner. We mainly do tree work, grounds maintenance and also landscaping. We also sponsor and get involved in various pro-environmental projects.
Most days with tree work are pretty routine but we had a particularly challenging job recently removing a giant of a Beech tree which had unfortunately succumb to the fatal and dangerous pathogen Meripilus giganteus. The infected tree can look reasonably healthy but below the surface the roots are being eaten away and eventually the tree falls over. It is important to look out for this disease on Beech trees, particularly near houses and its presence is betrayed by the growth of huge fungus brackets at the base of the tree during the autumn.

This particularly challenging tree was leaning over two very nice houses, a shed and a fence. We couldn't use a crane as the tarmac area would not withstand the weight so we (Hysni- the lead climber on this job) had to dismantle the giant manually, branch by branch and slice by slice- four days in so far!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

0.1% Growth?

The fixing of Broken Britain can only be done piece by piece and that means street by street. As far as I am concerned, investment in socio-environmental projects at the local level is going to be a main thrust of the economic/social recovery. SME's (Small and medium sized business) will play a pivotal role in rebuilding the neglected parts of Britain which fell through the cracks during macro-economic reforms of the 80's, 90's and 00's. A renaissance of local society is intrinsic to solving social and economic problems and that means the further development of the socio-environmental sector .

I personally don't think we have reached the bottom yet of this 'correction'. This has already been the longest recession since the 2nd World War. I think it is more than a simple V shaped recession. I think this is the end of the road for the widening of the social inequalities that have arisen over the last 30 years. I think the way out of this recession is by closing that gap- by closing Britain's cracks and concentrating on development and improving our social and environmental conditions. In other words creating modern, free and open sustainable societies.
I hope so anyway.

Experiments have already begun. The Hackbridge Project is such an experiment and things are slowly but steadily getting off to a start.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

More Beddington Gulls

Pic 1: Caspian Gull in flight (click on it)- even from this range, the white head, dark shawl, broad pale fringed-discretely dark centred mantle/scaps, dark based/pale tipped coverts and secondaries and contrasting rump with black tail band can be visible in flight. The long winged, long-billed and long necked posture makes it distinctive in flight and readily identifiable in a melee of flying gulls.

A 'Caspo'- didn't see much on it.

The pale end of the 'argenteus' spectrum

Monday, 18 January 2010

'CASPO's' at Beddington Farmlands

Four particularly interesting gulls today at the farm.

BIRD ONE (pic one): A 'Caspian-type??'- this bird recalls Caspian gull but I would prefer to see a whiter head, more distinct shawl, paler underparts, more pronounced wing bars formed by white tips to greater coverts and secondaries, longer primary projection and more discrete marking to the mantle and scapulars.

BIRD TWO: This seems to look okay, especially structurally but didn't really see enough on it to scruntise.

BIRD THREE: A fair cop I reckon.

BIRD FOUR: Even though this photo does not do it justice another fair cop.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Beddington in the news again

Here's the on line version of the recent hard weather report:


We attended the Hackbridge Plan community meeting yesterday evening- there was a good turn out- over 100 people. Hackbridge is the 'village' in which I live (pic 1), overlooking Beddington Farmlands. As the Farmlands is being developed into a major urban nature reserve something equally exciting is underway for Hackbridge. The Hackbridge Plan is to create the UK's first sustainable suburb.

Hackbridge is already world famous for being the site of Bedzed-(pic 2) a futuristic zero energy housing development project which also features in Al Gore's latest book. The wider concept now is to extend the principles of Bedzed to the wider Hackbridge area and regenerate the village to form a flagship model for future living- based on the idea of sustainable futures. Within that masterplan Beddington Farmlands will be an area for wildlife where the local community can connect with their wider environment and nature.

More here:

Monday, 11 January 2010

Non-Stop Birding

Just as a reminder, Non-Stop Birding X is the overflow for Non-Stop Birding which can be found here:

Saturday, 9 January 2010

9th January 2010 X

The continuing and worsening cold spell has had profound effects on the avifauna of Beddington. Here are some counts made today of almost everything on the farm (most birds have gone):

15 Reed Bunting, 25+ Skylark, 200+ Linnet, 2 Chaffinch, 50+ Redwing, 70+ Fieldfare (SW), 600+ Jackdaw, 200+ Ring-necked Parakeet, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Lapwing, 40+ Teal, 5 Common Snipe, 40+ Teal, 15 Coot, 54 Grey Heron, 2 Cormorant (over), 1 Little Grebe, 5000+ gulls, 20+ Carrion Crow, 8 Woodpigeon, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail

12 Jack Snipe, 2 Yellowhammer,
1 Wigeon, 1 Brambling, 1 Short-eared Owl, 1 Buzzard

The first casualties of this hard weather have been noticed including some gulls and passerines such as Robin and Reed Buntings are feeding on the path desperate to find food.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Beddington in context

Interesting some of the regional differences in these hard weather movements:

A steady trickle going past Spurn:
Little in the way of visible migration at Dungeness:
Influx of Woodcock and some oddities at Sandwich:
A major concentration occurring at snow-free Portland:
And my mate Jaffa, posted at Budleigh Salterton is having a bit of what Portland is having:

Looks like birds are concentrating in the south-west where they are finding snow free areas. Also looks like visible migration is more evident at some inland sites than at coastal sites.



Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Snow at the obs

Arctic Beddington X

2nd winter Caspian Gull (photo by Kevin Guest) from a few days ago. Longer-billed, more barrel chested and longer-legged than today's bird and in combination with a fairly typical 2nd winter plumage I would say this is within the goal posts of a Caspian Gull.
Internal heat from the landfill cells is keeping areas unfrozen and passerines are using these areas as a lifeline through the freeze.

There has been an influx of juvenile plumaged gulls (presumably northern latitude).

Weather chart for 060110. That high pressure over the North Atlantic is pulling in north and easterly air on its eastern flank, effectively bringing the Arctic to the UK and cutting of the mild gulf stream airflow.

Monday, 4 January 2010


Seems to be a trend of this sort of thing- pseudoscience-religious hybrid stuff (aka a load of shite but good to listen- nothing is all nonsense- the truth has been scattered and is hiding all over the place)

Here and Now