Monday, 29 February 2016

An afternoon at the farm

 Common Buzzards, the first birds are moving around during any favourable weather in the last couple of weeks
 Adult Yellow-legged Gull
 First-winter Yellow-legged? Contrasting white head, densely patterned scaps and mantle, dark coverts and lack of notching on tertials. Looks a bit small though, couldn't see a shawl and not really any masking around the eye. ? 
Partially leucistic first-cycle Herring Gull with second-cycle Herring Gull 
 Partially leucistic Herring Gull. Same bird as above. The leucism is quite asymmetrical confined to pale tips on the right wing of the bird

 Partially leucistic Herring Gull showing pale left wing and dark outer primaries to right wing. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Day out- Rainham RSPB

 Lapwings and Golden Plover- great to see huge flocks of Lapwing
 Corn Bunting- one along the river footpath
 Female Reed Bunting
 Male Reed Bunting- good idea putting a bird feeder in the reed bed (I'm having that!) 
 Pintail, Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing. 
 River Thames towards Dartford crossing
Rainham RSPB

Spent the day with Sue at Rainham. Nice to get away from the battle zone and to an area of secured victory. Amazing numbers of wetland birds. Highlights included the spectacle of all the wildfowl and waders, Dartford Warbler and a Corn Bunting. 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

New Local Plan for London Borough of Sutton- more trouble

Sutton Council are currently renewing the local plan that will dictate development in the local area for the near future: More here

During a pre-consultation meeting recently we had a look at the plan and note the following threats to the Bedddington Farmlands Site of Importance for Nature Conservation:

1) 9 hectares at risk following calls for sites from developers, mainly along the Beddington Lane Frontage
2) The sites include the area fragmented by the incinerator, Pongo Park and also the Go-cart track. S77, S76, S78
3) These sites have been put forward for MOL de-designation. (There are also two other green belt sites in Sutton which have been presented for de-designation)
4) 9 hectares loss is equivalent to a 5% loss of the SINC. This follows the recent loss of SINC as a result of the building of the incinerator and also the school in the field north of Bedzed.
5) The threat to the SINC will depend on the growth scenario forecast- the higher the forecast the greater the risk.

The full assault on Beddington Farmlands is now as follows:

1) 300,000 tonne incinerator currently being built on an area original proposed for wet grassland
2) A primary school on semi-natural grassland in the field north of Bedzed (the proposed site of the future main gateway to the reserve)
3) The demolition of Irrigation Bridge (the main access from the proposed future gateway to Beddington Farmlands)
4) 9 further hectares at risk if draft of Local Plan is adopted
5) Loss of the Tree Sparrow population in recent years
6) 80% of the target species in the conservation management plan have also disappeared

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Azores Pelagic 2016

Sat 27th Aug to Sat 3rd Sept 

 Monteiro's Petrel (Rafa Armada)- the main target species for WP and World listers. We visit the waters around Graciosa in late August, the cross over period between Monteiro's Petrel (summer breeder) and 'Grant's Petrel' (winter breeder) so we can see both 'band-rumped petrel' species that breed on the Azores. This time of year is also good for other local seabird specialities and vagrant seabirds. 
 Swinhoe's Petrel- has been recorded five times on these trips (one in 2012, two in 2013, one in 2014 and one in 2015)
 Barolo's Shearwater- seen on most trips. Also Wilson's Petrels and Bulwer's Petrels are seen on most trips.
 Sooty Tern, juvenile (Richard Bonser). Graciosa hosts a breeding pair of Sooty Terns. 
 South Polar Skua, 2014 (Richard Bonser) 
 White-tailed Tropicbird, 2013, seen on one of the neighbouring islands
 Zino's Petrel, 2012. (Harro Muller)  One of the few records outside Madeira 
 Fea's Petrel 2013 (Harro Muller). Seen on several trips.
 Spotted Dolphin (Vincent Legrand). The Azores is one of the world's cetacean hot spots. We are likely to see several species. 
 Common Dolphins (Gareth Knass) 
 Sperm Whale
 Sowerby's Beaked Whales (Richard Bonser) 
Blue Shark (Harro Muller). Other marine life encountered included shark species and Loggerhead Turtles

Azores Pelagic 2016
Azores Bullfinch Option
7 Nights (Sao Miguel, Terceira and Graciosa) - £1359pp (including international flights) and £1019pp (without international flights)

Pelagic only
5 nights (Terceira and Graciosa) - £698pp (without international flights)

For more details/to book a place please email 

Only 2-3 spaces remaining for 2016 but can take advanced bookings for 2017.  

Monday, 22 February 2016

Hackbridge- before and afters

Here's a few pictures of the work that the local community have been involved in as part of the Hackbridge plan and the Hackbridge Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Hackbridge and Beddington Corner aspire to be one of the most sustainable suburbs in the UK. It will be recognised as a distinctive community with an appealing identity at the heart of the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

The neighbourhood plan is currently going out to consultation. You can find out more here: 

The Heart of Hackbridge
Re-development of the district centre
 Including rain gardens with wildlife habitats and signs to Beddington Farmlands and the Wandle Trail 
The 'village' sign- symbolic of the neighbourhood's aspirations to become a major gateway to the Wandle Valley Regional Park and Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve

The entrance to Beddington Farmlands 

After- simply wow! Thanks to Bioregional, the Pocket Park initiative, the bird group and the neighbourhood development group

Hackbridge Housing Estate Gardens for people and nature


Hackbridge Private Gardens for people and nature

After (ok no miracle but a practical and affordable solution and relatively low maintenance- which will of course look better when the plants grow) 


Other Biodiversity Improvements
 Wildflower meadows

 Bulb planting
 More wildlflowers 
The Church gardens
Even started a bit of food growing on the housing estates 

Meanwhile at Beddington Farmlands 
and this is what's been going on over the other side of the bridge; the development of Beddington Farmlands, a major urban nature reserve which will be open to the public in the future
 Wetland creation
 Meadow planting
 Tree Planting
 Meadow management 
 Reed Planting
More meadows

Great work by a great team! 
 The WWT Visioning Day for the  Beddington Farmlands Visitors Centre Plans
 The Beddington Farm Bird Group at the Carshlaton Environmental Fair
 The Neighbourhood development Group at the Hackbridge Carnival 

Bridge protesters - people power keeping things going