Monday, 19 February 2018

The Battle Drums start beating

Currently squaring up for the May local councillor elections where I'll be standing for the Green Party. As Beddington Farmlands has the potential to become a premier urban nature reserve and a major resource and local area attraction for local people I'll be focusing on enforcement of planning conditions and accountability of our local rogue Lords of the Manor Viridor/Pennon and the delivery of our nature reserve. Will also be campaigning for controls on air pollution from the incinerator, rent caps and the living wage. 

The Green Party do actually offer working people and demographically diverse and independent vibrant communities the best framework to thrive in. Our ward is a victim of fat cat corporate abuse administered by a crony led, rotten and corrupted Lib Dems one party mini-state. What we need is a peasants (designer peasants) revolt to break the dictatorship. It's going to be a lot of fun! 

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Spring is Coming

What a lovely couple of days, with a break in the wintery conditions and the first pulse of spring action. Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral were on the wing this morning and yesterday night there was the first influx of moths at the obs moth trap. Buzzards were circling today and the gulls were also showing signs of migratory restlessness. The Cherry Plums are in bud and at the farm entrance crocus are out ,Speedwells are flowering by the hide and Lesser Celandine is out along the main road. 

 Juvenile male Peregrine doing a close fly by this morning 
 Female Kestrel 
 The juvenile/first winter Iceland Gull is still around
 as is the leucistic Herring Gull 
 Moths at the trap over last couple of days include Oak Beauty,  March Moth, Satellites, Small Brindled Beauty, Mompha jurasicella, Agonopterix heracliana, Agonopterix alstromeriana and Totricodes alternella
 March Moth 
 Totricodes alternella 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Juniper Top and Bramblehall Wood- The Epicentre of the UK Hawfinch invasion

A truely epic morning. At least 260 Hawfinches- the sight and sounds were incredible. Steve Gale found the birds several weeks ago but the numbers keep going up and there are also many birds in the surrounding valleys. Steve estimates up to 400 birds in the Mickleham-Juniper-Bramblehall complex. See Steve's account from today HERE.  Another account today from Kojak HERE

 Nearly 100 in this flock alone and there were birds all over the valley behind us 

 View from Juniper top. The woodland is mainly Beech, Yew and Ash with areas of Larch. The birds are mainly feeding on Yew and Larch. 
 Spurge Laurel- a lifer! Flowering already- an early source of nectar. 
The Parking Space is Whitehill Car Park and the Black Line A-B is the area where most of the birds were- either side of the line on both sides of the valley 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Bird Coin

Everyone is talking about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and was just thinking how block chain and cryptocurrencies might change birding and popular natural history. The Block Chain itself is a way of maintaining records/ledger in a community rather than entrusting it with a centralised bank/authority so has the potential of by-passing traditional authority structures and creating trust worthy pop up community structures. So potentially the block chain can have other uses rather than just banking. Could we see national lists being maintained on block chains, taxonomies on block chains- could it lead to popular movements or further collaborative scientific efforts. Cryptocurrencies provide a medium for micro-currencies- could we see the micro-monetisation of birding. There are already websites out there that pay a nano-fee (with cryptocurrency) to individuals who populate a user generated information platform- could we see bird information services go that way. 

For background on Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and Block Chains there is a good documentary on Netflix (Banking on Bitcoin) and also a recent Panaroma available on I-player - Who wants to be a Bitcoin Millionaire? There's also endless material on the internet but most of it is hyping material. 

Obviously all of this is probably 95% hype (a sad confirmation of the desperation of humanity) at the moment but after the bubble bursts Block Chain technology and Cryptocurrency is here to stay and will change everything including Natural History. Could we see Bird Coin appear?

Viridor/Pennon share price collapsing

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Ferruginous Duck and hybrids

Did a family day at the London Wetland Centre today and thought I'd have a look at the Ferruginous Ducks considering the recent hybrid at the farmlands HERE

Adult female Ferruginous Duck showing the black tipped bill with blue sub-terminal band that cuts down the side of the bill almost at a right angle 
Adult female Ferruginous Duck showing very dark upperparts (with no scalloping), dark border to the undertail coverts (the femoral area/coverts), lack of contrast between breast and flanks and overall much more rich reddish colour tones than the presumed Ferruginous x Pochard at the farmlands below
 The Beddington Bird. Compared to the adult female Ferruginous above this bird has a head profile more similar to Pochard, the blue bill band is obliquely angled, the dark on the bill tip is more extensive, the bird is overall more brownish, has grey scalloping on the upperparts, has contrast between flanks and breast and also lacks the dark border on the femoral coverts. It would have been useful to have found a first-winter Ferruginous Duck at the Wetland Centre to compare as this would have been even closer to the Beddington bird- presumably browner, with less well defined bill pattern but overall would resemble an adult female. More photos of the Beddington bird HERE
 Adult female and male Ferruginous Duck. 
 Also a few other interesting things in the LWC collection- displaying Hooded Mergansers
 Comparison of sleeping adult male Lesser Scaup (above) and Greater Scaup (below) 

 Continuing this year's Manky Mallards theme HERE, these Indian Runners were entertaining
 What is this? (it's Butterbur- cheers Steve!) 
Had to show Jacob the famous Asian Short-clawed Otters- a good excuse to drag the family out while doing a bit of covert id research 

Hybrid duck links: