Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ex-Beddington Birder Speaks Out

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Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Paths of Birding

Here's the pieces I wrote for Birdwatch last year about the different ways to enjoy and participitate in birding:

Observation,  Listening,  Listing,  Photography and Art Recording/Surveys,  Professional, Conservation and Biodiversification

New Directions 1 - Birdwatch by Peter Alfrey on Scribd

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Caspian Gulls etc

At least five Caspian Gulls around at the moment. Here's four of them. 

First-winter Caspian Gull (Bird 1) 
First-winter Caspian Gull (Bird 2) 
Second-winter Caspian Gull
Male Pheasant- a male and three females present
Common Clothes Moth. Also had a Mottled Umber. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2017 Plans for Mice and Men

The Plans 

Just been finalising and tweaking our management plans for 2017. 

Implementing plans is an amusing game. It's basically like a game of king of the rings with bulldozers where you just try and bulldoze your plan through (in this case a nature and people one) while the capitalists and other Lords of darkness and their orks try and stop you and bulldoze over the top of you. 

It's a laugh- the plans rarely work out as planned, last year we dealt with kin theft and betrayal, sabotage within the inner sanctum, the usual episodes of mob lynching and mutiny, corporate deceit, ram sacking gangs, councillor bribes, seduction and loss of territory- all while just trying to do a bit of gardening and bird spotting! Shoot for the Moon- land in the shitter! 

I guess in a densely populated environment with some many competing views and agendas everyone is fighting over the same resources- there's a danger that everything just ends up getting ripped to pieces. Trying to get the bulldozers to do a bit of line dancing and working together building something creatively seems a much better idea but seemingly quite an unpopular one. 

Will see how we get on on this years trip round the sun on this maddening planet floating in the bleakness of infinite nothingness. 

Main objectives for us this year  on the different projects are:

Little Oak Environmental Management
a) Set up Cell 2 (our first franchise chain) 
b) Implement first phase of wildlife gardens in Hackbridge
c) Implement first phase of green space improvements in Hackbridge

Beddington Farmlands
a) Campaign for Wet Grassland and implementation of s106 conditions
b) Increase members and activities in wildlife group/ integrate with CAMC
c) Continue bio-blitz and improving recording systems 

Azores Nature
a) Improve recording systems
b) 2015 and 2016 Reports
c) Bird Fair event to promote tours

Thee Bryans
a) Summer World of Twigg/Thee Bryans mini-tour
b) Finalise web spaces 

a) Mobile obs trips using e-bird and i-record
b) The Old Vicarage Bioblitz/ Oxfordshire birding

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Country Life- Otmoor RSPB

After the high octane day out yesterday I spent most of today in the zen like tranquillity of Otmoor RSPB . Was reflecting a bit on my two some what different days this weekend out in 'the Country'.  I find it hard to construct a rational argument against hunting in principle (aside from conservation, environment and cruelty considerations) but personally find observing, studying, photographing and recording more fulfilling. Nonetheless certainly a lot of overlap in both days and the more social (and tipples in the field) side of the shoot yesterday was really nice. 

Highlights today were a hunting ring-tail Hen Harrier, 4-5 Marsh Harriers, 1 Raven and Bullfinches and Yellowhammers.

Hen Harrier

Marsh Harrier 

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Shoot Day Out

Holly's dad invited me to the Worminghall pheasant shoot today (a shoot he has been involved for over 20 years)  so I accepted the invite and went along as an impartial observer. It was an interesting day and particularly interesting considering I've been closely following the Hen Harrier debate and have no experience of country shooting (considering I'm native to South London). 

Firstly, there were a lot of birds on the farmland the shoot was on; without trying I noticed 15 Lapwing, 40+ Mallard, 2 Teal, 80+ Linnet, 25+ Chaffinch, 10+ Yellowhammer, 1 Bullfinch, 100+ Fieldfare and Redwing, 4 Woodcock (3 shot), Grey and Red-legged Partridge, Common Buzzard and Red Kites. A lot of the birds were in the cover crops and copses that had been planted up especially for the shoot and the ducks were on a lake that had also been developed for the shoot. 

Also I found it interesting that according to the gamekeeper out of 2200 Pheasants reared and released each year for the shoot only a third would be taken by the guns and the other 1500 or so would either be taken by predators or establish wild populations. I also found it interesting that there were only five shoots in the whole year. 

More controversially Woodcocks and Grey Partridge were being shot, both species being subjects of conservation considerations. 

Overall I found it very interesting day and I was made very welcome by a friendly group of people and a lot of organisation had clearly gone into the days events. 

Highlight of the day was flushing a deer from a hedge that I presumed was a Muntjac but after putting a picture up on facebook it was re-identified as a Chinese Water Deer- a new species for me. 

Izzy- one of Holly's family six gun dogs 

The bag included over 100 Pheasants, 10 Mallard, 1 Red-legged and 1 Grey Partridge and 3 Woodcock
Chinese Water Deer 
Chinese Water Deer - thanks to id from Richard Harris and others on my facebook page. Apparently the main features from Muntjac are the lack of stripes on the face, the softer facial features and also Muntjac hold their tail up when running.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Gull Day

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull

Despite doing a near dawn to dusker on the gulls at the farmlands there was not much return. The juvenile Glacuous Gull was good to see again and we also had a first winter and adult Yellow-legged Gull. Unfortunately no Caspian Gulls (despite at least six being seen in last few days) and still no Med Gull- becoming a real scarcity in these parts.

Back to real work on Monday (not as hard as a week of gulling!) 

Estimate on gull numbers in last week include:

Herring Gull 10-15000+
Black-headed Gull 3000+
Lesser Black-backed Gull 250+
Great Black-backed Gull 50+
Common Gull 30+
Caspian Gull 6
Yellow-legged Gull 4
Glaucous Gull 1
Iceland Gull 1
('Northern Herring Gull' 10+)