Sunday, 31 December 2017

PLANS FOR 2018

So it's that time of year again to make some plans with the intent of projecting them as far as possible  into the thick treacle of current times and see how far they get in the face of chaos as the Sixth Extinction escalates. Each year my ambitions get less and less ambitious. If I'm still doing this blog tradition in ten years time I can see these ambitions amounting to getting out of my pyjamas and stop licking the window.

Who knows in the not so distant future following insufferable prolonged self-inflicted misery at the brink of total annihilation our society will turn against the Capitalist Cult and start building a society that values nature and  human well being above everything else. In the meantime trying to save as much as possible and get it through the bottleneck is all that can be done so here are my over enthusiastic and doomed plans for 2018.

BEDDINGTON FARMLANDS AND HACKBRIDGE

1) Stand as a Green Party Candidate in the local councillor elections to campaign for more local community engagement with nature, the implementation of the local neighbourhood biodiversity plan and the opening of the reserve. Also campaign for rent caps and compulsory living wage in the ward so that people can afford time off to enjoy the local nature. Escalate the campaign both locally and wider to peak around the time of the local elections and deliver the petition (now over 4000 supporters) to the Head of Council and request a formal hearing.

2) Scale down the volunteer effort for Viridor. A fundamental error has been treating Viridor as if they are a conservation organisation. Conservation Organisations (and decent companies) treat volunteers as the priceless goods they are but generally Corporations see volunteers as complete idiots who they can milk for green wash so anything we produce that Viridor can use for green washing will be charged at corporate rates. Any money we make from that can go back into the conservation effort.

3) Support the local neighbourhood development group in re-applying to the Community Fund for local area biodiversity improvements and integration with the developing nature reserve. Viridor already blocked this road by rejecting three applications in 2017 presumably as part of their agenda to water down any local community aspirations about the reserve development and to support their agenda to default as much as possible on planning conditions.


LITTLE OAK TREE AND GARDEN CARE 

1) Integrate biodiversity improvements into our tree and green space management plans and push hard to our management company partners

2) Maintain the current three team configuration and attempt to develop a new cell with the cell being run as an autonomous unit run from a central blueprint- i.e. attempt to generate organic growth/ cell division.

3) Increase defence and security- following loses of £75K in the last two years to theft, security is going to be a big issue as the social and economic environment declines around us.

AZORES NATURE 

1) Attempt to make progress with the report backlog.

2) Maintain the current natural history and pelagic trips and maintain support/promotion of the autumn vagrant season.

THEE BRYANS

1) Live performance in March 2018

2) Work on a video


OTHER

1) Travel plans in 2018 include a visit to Ghana, Malta, a road trip in the summer and trips to the Azores.

2) Look into moving house

Friday, 29 December 2017

2017 Travel Review

 Travel was fairly limited in 2017 due to an unexpected arrival by a White Stork in 2016 (incredulously Jacob's conception was around the time of last year's White Stork at Beddington). However was keen to start off as we mean to continue and managed to get in a trip to Ghana (where I would like to set up a regular little winter project) in the early part of the year and then we did a few short trips with Jacob in the campervan (aka the mobile obs) through the year. Jacob did his first camping trip when he was six weeks and his first foreign trip (to France) at six months.

GHANA, JANUARY 2017 TRIP REPORT HERE


 Black Bee-eater
 Red-billed Helmet Shrike
 Black Dwarf Hornbill 
White-throated Bee-eater 
 Pel's Anamolure
Operation Pangolin (click on FB symbol- viewing requires an active FB account) 

Dark Blue Pansy
Blue Diadem
Black Spotted Ciliate Blue
 The 2017 Wise Birding Ghana Crew
TRIP REPORT HERE

TRIP TO DEVON/ BEAVER TWITCH
Mission successful 
The first manifestation of the mobile obs and camp

TRIP TO ARUNDEL/ SUSSEX
Upgrade on the mobile obs and camp (planning some longer trips in 2018 across Europe and hopefully in the future to far flung parts of the WP). 
 Nothochrysa fulviceps- Caught on the light trap near Arundel. A relatively scarce species of lacewing in the UK. 
 The River Arun at Arundel

TRIP TO FRANCE
Wetlands near Baie de Somme
Spoonbills 
Grey Partridge
Natterjack Toad 
A few marine species in there 

AND ALSO....
Twitch of the year was to see Steve Gale's Clifden Nonpariel
also did a few days at Rainham (Waxwing at Rainham) 
and finally....the biggest journey of the year has just started 

Thursday, 28 December 2017

I'm a Millionaire!

So this blog has now had over a million views and not all of them are views by Russian bots or by myself- there must be a few genuine hits in there surely?. Anyway as any regular readers (if there are any) will know this blog is mainly about day to day observations in nature that I come across at work, home , the local patches and trips away with the occasional reflection (i.e. de-ranged rant) about concerns about the future of the nature around me and updates on projects which are aimed at doing something about those concerns. To bring that all together I've built this vehicle LITTLE OAK GROUP so basically this blog mainly reports on the day to day journey of that chugging along nature bus. The purpose of the blog is to share stuff that we find. 

However as most of humanity have no interest whatsoever in the day to day zen of the long and winding road this blog does actually inadvertently also report on the occasional exciting discovery for those, as Confucius once said  'The common man finds interest in what is rare, whereas the wise man finds interest in the commonplace'  (I saw that on an internet meme while I was trawling for rare bird news so its probably not just self damning but also fake) so here are a few of those exciting posts which boost the blog stats. 

GREAT DAYS AT BEDDINGTON FARMLANDS 

PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER AT BEDDINGTON
COMMON CRANE. FIRST FOR BEDDINGTON
BLACK KITE IN THE GARDEN!
GANNETS OVER BEDDINGTON
LONG-TAILED SKUA FROM THE WINDOW! 
SERIN, FIRST FOR BEDDINGTON
WHITE STORK FROM THE WINDOW

DEWICK'S PLUSIA, FIRST FOR BEDDINGTON 
WHITE-LETTER HAIRSTREAKS, BEDDINGTON


GREAT TIMES ON THE AZORES 

AZORES PELAGIC 2012- SWINHOE'S AND ZINO'S
EASTERN WOOD PEWEE, 2ND FOR THE WP
FALL OF THE YANKS, CORVO 2015
LINCOLN'S SPARROW, FIRST FOR THE WP 
WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD, THE AZORES
AZORES MEGA AUTUMN 2012

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Xmas Birding

Managed to sneak out and do some birding on 23rd, Christmas Eve and also got a garden tick at the Old Vic on Xmas day- a Yellowhammer flying over. Got told off for moth trapping while doing the xmas day prep but still pulled it off- Mottled Umber for the Old Vic list. Got various cunning plans over the holidays to combine some family days out with birding targets- will see how I get on/get away with it. 

 Iceland Gull at Beddington on 23rd- looks like a different bird from the 19th- with darker bill and more contrasting primaries 19th bird
 Juvenile/first-winter Iceland Gull 
 Also had this leucistic first-winter Herring Gull on 23rd which had been present the day before 
 Leucistic Herring Gull 
 Had this first-winter Goldeneye at Farmoor on Xmas Eve (a trip which I had to call off a bit early because Jacob started turning purple in the deceivingly cold wind) 
Got these adult Goldeneyes in before the baby froze 
Baby and bird of day all sorted for the Big Day 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Winter moths at Beddington Farmlands

Here's a few moths from the Beddington obs trap from late November to now. Been regular Winter moths and November moth aggs and there were five species yesterday night so despite being the depths of the winter, there are indeed a limited but perhaps surprising year round selection of moths on the wing.

 Brick (I think) 
 Yellow-lined Quaker 
 Winter moth agg 
 Mottled Umbers (above and below)- quite a variable species 


Brown-spot Flat-body Agonopterix alstromeriana
 Common Plume Moth Emmelina monodactyla
 Acleris ferrugana/notana (above and below) 

A Herald at Gillians- another one in addition to the 26 we found hibernating in the moth tunnel 

Friday, 22 December 2017

Rare bird finds 2017


Still waiting for a Jacob and I find , that makes in into the Top Ten

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

New Patches Review 2017

2017 was certainly a year of some big changes, or rather one big change (the arrival of Jacob) that set off a series of other changes. The timing couldn't have been any better, as Beddington is in such poor quality at the moment and considering we are living between Holly's in Oxford and mine at Beddington, there was the perfect excuse to start regularly birding at not only sites around Holly's (Otmoor, Farmoor and at the Old Vic) but also a half-way there patch (Staines). 

Turned out in the end that is was also a good year's birding at Beddington too despite the terrible habitat management and conflict so what with Jacob and all the extra birding away- 2017 was definitely one of the best years ever. 
OXFORD PATCH 
SPRING 2017 


 First-winter Bonaparte's Gull at Farmoor in April 
 Black Tern at Farmoor in April
 Turnstone at Farmoor in May 
 Temminck's Stint at Otmoor
 Grass Snake at Otmoor 
 Fallow Deer in Spring around Holly's. The Oxfordshire countryside around Holly's hosts good populations of Deer including Fallow, Roe, Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer. 
 Roe Deer
 Chinese Water Deer 
 Muntjac in Holly's garden (in autumn) 
 Spring Bluebells at Aston Rowant

SUMMER 2017 

 Forester on Common Spotted Orchid at Bernwood Meadows 
 Common Cranes at Otmoor- the breeding pair 
 Marsh Helleborine at Lye Valley 
 Brown Hare at Otmoor 
 Bank Vole at Otmoor 
 Spotted Flycatcher at the Old Vic 
 Frog Orchid at Aston Rowant 
 Green-winged Orchids at Bernwood Meadows 
 Pale Tussock at the Old Vic 
 Drinker at the Old Vic 
Varied Coronet at the Old Vic 
Waved Black at the Old Vic 
Turtle Dove at Otmoor

AUTUMN 2017
 2017 was the autumn of the Hawfinch and we had several over the Oxford area. This one was at the Old Vic (Holly's garden) 
 Juvenile Knot at Farmoor in September 
 Shag at Farmoor in September 
 Osprey over Otmoor in August 
 Bittern at Otmoor in October 

WINTER 2017
Golden Plovers at Otmoor

The 2017 crew

STAINES 2017

The half way there patch performed in style. The draining of the Staines Res South Basin was a bonus with some excellent wader habitat through the autumn. 

 Great Northern Diver, April
 Black-necked Grebe, April 
Little Gull in April 
 Greater Scaup in April 
 Whimbrels in May 
 First-summer White-winged Black Tern in May 
 Arctic Skua in September 
 Grey Phalarope in September 
 Red-necked Phalarope in September  
 Little Stints in September 
Merlin in September