Thursday, 30 November 2017

Parrot Crossbills and that Lark

Was gutted to not catch up with the American Horned Lark at Staines despite a brief attempt over the weekend and then after managing to book some time off yesterday, the bird decided to do the bunk. 

However the Parrot Crossbills at Wishmoor Bottom were some consolation, especially considering we got them on the Surrey side which meant another tick for my Surrey List.  Found out recently that I'm in the top ten of Surrey listers (SEE HERE) which was a bit of a surprise. 

Great to catch up with Darryl and Greg and also met Polly for the first time. Also bumped into Mush, Mike and Brian from the south west. 


Male Parrot Crossbill
Male and female Parrot Crossbill
Immature male Parrot Crossbill, obviously less intense red colouration than adult male.
Male and female Parrot Crossbill. In all the photos the strong bull-necked appearance is apparent. Typically the bill has a strongly decurved culmen (parrot like) with the lower mandible very deep and bulging to the centre. Here's a couple of calls from Dave Lambert HERE and some song HERE. In comparison here are some Common Crossbill calls HERE. Overall the call of Parrot Crossbill is deeper and harder but there is a lot of overlap. 

Darryl, Greg and Polly


THAT LARK

American Horned Lark, Staines by Shaun Ferguson . The streaking on the breast is one of the key identification features. Alpestis is also larger, has more rufous upperparts, has a narrow pale ear covert patch, has contrast between the flanks and belly and should have deeper yellow on the face. 

So I had to do with internet birding this bird but interesting doing a bit of reading up and the complexity of Horned Lark identification. As far as I can work out this is the latest on the situation ( see Jose Luis Copete's summary here: BIRDING FRONTIERS PIECE) . It looks like a taxonomic revision is underway with the suggested six splits as follows: (In the WP region the main splits would be Shorelark, Atlas Horned Lark and Caucasian Horned Lark with extra-limital American Horned Lark and possibly Steppe Horned Lark): 

1. SHORELARK flava, from  N Eurasia E to NE Russia (Anadyrland), S to S Norway, L Baikal and NW Amurland
2. AMERICAN HORNED LARK alpestris, for the whole of North America, pending further study, since in that continent there are around 30 different subspecies described, depending of the authorities.
3. ATLAS HORNED LARK atlas, from Atlas Mts in Morocco


Atlas Horned Lark from Morrocco Trip Report HERE. The main id feature is the rich cinnamon coloured nape. 
4. CAUCASIAN HORNED LARK penicillata, from E Turkey and Caucasus E to N & W Iran
 Caucasian Horned Lark, Georgia
Caucasian Horned Lark, Turkey Trip report HERE. The main identification feature is the obvious connection of the black mask and breast band. 
5. STEPPE HORNED LARK brandti, from  SE European Russia (lower R Volga) and N Transcaspia E to W Manchuria, S to N Turkmenistan, Tien Shan and Mongolia

6. 'HIMALAYAN HORNED LARK' elwesi, from S & E of Tibetan Plateau

Just to indicate the complexity of the situation here are the sub-species that HBW ALive currently recognise: 
Subspecies and Distribution
·  E. a. arcticola (Oberholser, 1902) – Alaska and NW Canada (Yukon S to British Columbia); winters in W USA.
·  E. a. hoyti (Bishop, 1896) – N Canada (N Baffin I S to N Alberta and W Ontario); winters in N USA.
·  E. a. alpestris (Linnaeus, 1758) – American Horned Lark – E Canada (W Ontario E to Newfoundland and S to Nova Scotia) and E USA (E from Minnesota and S to Kansas and N Carolina); N populations winter in E USA.
·  E. a. strigata (Henshaw, 1884) – W & WC Canada and USA (British Columbia S to N California and E to Idaho, Nevada and Utah); N populations winter in W USA.
·  E. a. leucolaema Coues, 1874 – SW & SC Canada (S Alberta E to Manitoba) S to WC & SC USA (S to New Mexico E to Texas).
·  E. a. rubea (Henshaw, 1884) – NE & C California.
·  E. a. insularis (Dwight, 1890) – Channel Is, off SW California.
·  E. a. occidentalis (McCall, 1851) – SW USA (S California and SW Nevada E to C New Mexico) and NW Mexico (N Baja California and NW Sonora).
·  E. a. adusta (Dwight, 1890) – S Arizona E to S New Mexico S in Mexico to Durango and E to Coahuila.
·  E. a. enertera (Oberholser, 1907) – C Baja California.
·  E. a. giraudi (Henshaw, 1884) – coastal S USA (S Texas) S to NE Mexico.
·  E. a. chrysolaema (Wagler, 1831) – S Mexican Plateau from SE Coahuila and Zacatecas S to Jalisco, Michoacán, Morelos, Veracruz and NE Puebla; also C Oaxaca.
·  E. a. peregrina (P. L. Sclater, 1855) – E Andes of Colombia (Altiplano Cundiboyacense, N of Bogotá).
·  E. a. flava (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – Shore Lark – N Eurasia E to NE Russia (Anadyrland), S to S Norway, L Baikal and NW Amurland; winters in W & C Europe E to Kazakhstan, Mongolia and C China.
·  E. a. brandti (Dresser, 1874) – Steppe Horned Lark – SE European Russia (lower R Volga) and N Transcaspia E to NE China (Inner Mongolia), S to N Turkmenistan, Tien Shan and Mongolia; N populations migrate S.
·  E. a. atlas (Whitaker, 1898) – Atlas Horned Lark – Morocco (Atlas Mts).
·  E. a. balcanica (Reichenow, 1895) – SE Europe (S Balkans and Greece).
·  E. a. kumerloevei Roselaar, 1995 – W & C Asia Minor.
·  E. a. penicillata (Gould, 1838) – Caucasian Horned Lark – E Turkey and Caucasus E to N & W Iran.
·  E. a. bicornis (C. L. Brehm, 1842) – Lebanon and N Israel–S Syria border (Mt Hermon).
·  E. a. albigula (Bonaparte, 1850) – SW Turkmenistan and NE Iran E to W Tien Shan and S to NW Pakistan.
·  E. a. argalea (Oberholser, 1902) – N Ladakh, extreme W China (W Kunlun Shan) and W Tibetan Plateau.
·  E. a. teleschowi (Przevalski, 1887) – C & E Kunlun Shan from S Xinjiang E to NW Qinghai and S to N Xizang (W China).
·  E. a. przewalskii (Bianchi, 1904) – Qaidam Basin, in N Qinghai.
·  E. a. nigrifrons (Przevalski, 1876) – mountains of NE Qinghai.
·  E. a. longirostris (F. Moore, 1856) – Himalayan Horned Lark – Himalayas from NE Pakistan and Kashmir E to Sikkim.
·  E. a. elwesi (Blanford, 1872) – S & E Tibetan Plateau.
·  E. a. khamensis (Bianchi, 1904) – SC China (SE Xizang, W Sichuan).

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Magic five minutes

Had a magic five minutes in Holly's garden this morning. First had a flock of Golden Plover go over, then cracking views of a Red Kite and then had two Hawfinches. Also a couple of Bullfinch and Redwings and Fieldfares. 



 Adult Red Kite 
 One of the Hawfinches- seen them every weekend over the garden recently 
Golden Plovers 

In the late morning took Jacob to Bernwood Forest (had Treecreeper and Nuthatch) but no Hawfinches there. Spent the afternoon doing a World of Twigg stand with Holly at a xmas market. 

Sutton Council announce this week that Beddington Farmlands is being handed over to industry

Not quite as bad as it sounds but not far off, Read more by clicking of facebook symbol. 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

TWITE!

Devil and Magnus found a Twite today at Beddington- only the second site record - the first record was in 1991. It is also the first Surrey record since 2004. 

A Beddington lifer for me, my 221st Beddington bird so basically a great day and work went out the window! Great find by Devil and Magnus.

We know the bird is of the race C.f.pipilans (overall darker than the nominate race) as the bird was colour-ringed and the ring configuration of pink over silver on the left leg and pink over red on the right leg has been confirmed as originating from the South Pennines ringing project run by Jamie Dunning. 

Across the Western Palearctic there are two distinct populations. One of the populations is in Britain and Ireland (C.f. pipilans) and Norway  (nominate flavirostris) and the other population is in south-east Europe and Volga-Ural steppe (brevirostris and kirghizorum respectively) (BWP) . Globally there are five additional races across Asia (HBW). 

The population in Britain and Ireland has overall reduced historically. In the 1830s they were regular visitors to nearby Tooting and in the 1890s they were regular visitors to nearby Banstead Downs. However  there have only been 21 records in Surrey since 1900- the last record was at Berrylands in 2004.  Flocks of up to 200 used to be recorded at Rainham Marshes in the 1970s but numbers reduced from the 1980s onwards. In the 21st Century Twite are less than annual to the London recording area. (Birds of London and Bird of Surrey).  So a local mega as well as a Beddington mega. 





Pink over silver on the left leg and pink over red on the right- a bird from the South Pennines project

and for comparison.......
Here's a Twite from Georgia (former USSR) from a visit in 2003, of the race brevirostris. The racial variation of Twite is mainly ground colour variation with the European populations being much darker than the eastern populations. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

Bits and bobs and the end of an era

Quite a busy week last week. Monday was at Otmoor with Jacob- not a lot to write home about. Had another 3 Hawfinch go over Holly's garden. Back down to London then for the rest of the week (doing Saturdays to Monday in Oxford now and rest of week in London). Then on Wednesday met up with Sam Woods and went to Oare for the day- had the Long-billed Dowitcher and found a moulting Green-winged Teal (can you be certain of ascertaining purity of a moulting bird?).  Then the whole weekend was taken up with beginning to turn the bug room at the Beddington obs into Jacob's new room and today finally got a visit in to the farmlands- had a 2nd-winter Caspian Gull and a first-winter Caspian-type.  

 Red Kite over Otmoor 
 Male Green-winged Teal at Oare Marshes 
 The Long-billed Dowticher at Oare 
 2nd-winter Caspian Gull, Beddington today. A returning bird from last winter HERE and also seen on the Thames by Rich and Co HERE

 This first-winter bird showed features of Caspian Gull but the coverts were very pale and barred- Caspian-type

THE END OF AN ERA
It was with some sadness that the Beddington Obs bug room (The Bugry) has been partly de-commissioned to make way for Jacob (unless he wanted to share his room with THIS. )

 As well at moth trapping from the window also been sound recording at night and also sky watching during the day. Added hundreds of new species to the Beddington pan-species lists from here- one of the most significant discoveries being the local population of Dewick's Plusia.  
The first moth trap in 2010 
 There were many highlights since 2009 including several hawkmoths visiting the Bugry including Lime Hawkmoth (above), Poplar, Elephant, Small Elephant and currently home to a pupating Privet Hawkmoth. 
 The Bugry on Saturday 
The Bugry today
Jacob seemed to find the whole thing hilarious 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Beddington Campaign- The Big Push Update

PETITION NOW NEAR 3000 SIGNATURES

SUTTON GUARDIAN ARTICLE THIS WEEK

INSIDE CROYDON ARTICLE THIS WEEK 


BATTLE PLAN

It's basically the minute before midnight for the wildlife at Beddington Farmlands. De-commissioning of most of the old sewage farm wet land habitat is planned to commence in Spring 2018 and considering the restoration habitats are seven years behind the time schedule in the Conservation Management Plan (or what has become the mis-management plan) there will be nowhere for the Lapwings, waders and other target species to go. Viridor/Pennon have already successfully carried out a programme of ecocide in the hope that  once they've trashed the site, everyone will forget about the visions for public nature reserves and then they won't have to fork out for the restoration that they are legally committed to (a standard practise in the dark arts of the planning system) and also got more chance of extending waste management infrastructure. These are rogue traders of the biggest magnitude and here's what they have done to our local wildlife so far. (The target species are the indicators of success of a Conservation Management Plan).  


Now presumably the plan for Pennon/Viridor is to finish of the job by totally wiping out the tiny relict populations that remain and then telling the local community and the planet to go and fuck itself and die while the CEO of Pennon pays himself a £2 million annual bonus for hitting his key performance indicators - which is to deliver a 4% increase in company value year on year to 2020- so basically the last thing he wants is to be spending any money on something valueless like nature for the benefit of ethnic and working class communities in London while he is saving up for his super yacht. 

So here's the battle plan to deal with these cowboys.

1. On line petition for enforcement of legal conditions by Sutton Council 
2. Special state of nature report at Beddington Farmlands to be distributed to all key decision makers locally and beyond highlighting the critical situation
3.  Submission of formal complaint to Sutton Council in response to the lack of action following the 2015 Local Government Ombudsman report that concluded that the council should discharge conditions on Viridor/Pennon without delay
4. Submission of formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman to highlight that Viridor have done almost nothing since the LGO conclusions
5. On going anti-Viridor/Pennon on line campaigning to expose them for the rogue traders and charlatans that they are and to ensure decision makers across the country know their legacy in other areas
6. Wide scale local door to door campaign and major on line campaing to highlight issues focused around the 2018 local elections
7. Continual publishing of articles and updates across the conservation network as widely as possible to publicise and gain support for the campaign
8. Engagement with local politicians to back the campaign and deliver a key strategic win for the local community and to deal with local corruption and corporate abuse
9. Continuing with the futile effort to assist Viridor/Pennon in any way possible to engage with the local community and conservation network to assist with the reserve development (which they continuously reject). An effort which has involved over 5000 volunteer hours a year for the last several years- which Viridor/Pennon have used as greenwash while they continue trashing the site- so effectively got the local community to dig their own graves- very nice people. 
10. Publicity stunts- a series of stunts (the insane campaign) to bring attention to the issues.
11. Sub-campaign about the Viridor Credits and Conservation Organisation Scandal.
12. Reporting of Viridor/Pennon to various accreditation schemes  that they are part for dissonance between the scheme values and what they are doing at Beddington. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

My Heroes- top 5

This is in chronological order so following the biggest influences in my early to mid years HERE, here's my most recent biggest influences, people, groups, movements and occurrences at every level through time and space; personal, local, regional and beyond.

5. ALFRED SMEE (1818-1877) - THE FATHER OF THE BEDDINGTON SCENE (AKA THE BOGFATHER) AND THE BEDDINGTON RABBLE


Before democracy

After democracy

So Alfred Smee lived in Beddington Park in the C19th and wrote a book 'My Garden'- the first major works on the natural history of this local area. What was later to become Beddington Sewage Farm was referred to as the Irrigation Fields and there were some interesting early observations: see HERE. Following a couple of world wars and a social revolution that turned his country house into a curry house, the masses were liberated to pick up the torch of our early great and good forefathers . First plebs on the scene were Philip Ratcliff and Len Parmenter who were watching 'the farm' in the 1930s. Things went a big quiet from 1939 onwards (apart from the sound of bombs and screaming)  but picked up again in the late 1940s and by the 1950s the first carnation of the Beddington Farmlands Bird Group was headed up by Brian Milne. To cut a long story short, the group waxed and waned over the last 70 years with local legends coming and going such as John Burton, Ken Parsley, Peter Grant, Simon Aspinal, Ken Osborne and some coming and still here such as Mike Netherwood and Derek Coleman. Nowadays the torch bearers go by the names of Kojak, Sick-note, the Prof, Tank, Pinpoint, Dodge, Devilbirder, Bulldog, Pyro, Coca Cola, the Monk, Spudhead, Swifty and the Brief who are up agaisnt the multi-billion pound Pennon/Viridor Corporation- a nature destroying and incinerator building capitalist super-organism who have been given responsibility by our democratic government to preserve the planet, care for local communities and preserve biodiversity- nothing to go wrong there.
I wonder what Smee would make of it all?

4. PETER COOK (1937-1995) AND THE 1960's REBEL LEADERS


Not much to say here already that hasn't already been said a billion times. Even though I was a teenager in the 1980s there wasn't much in my youth culture that was particularly interesting  apart from some great sci-fi. A little bit of delving in the archives and I never reappeared-  Derek and Clive, Monty Python, the straight Peter and Dudley stuff,  Pink Floyd, the Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, Dylan- not the greats for nothing. 
These were quite literally the people that I wanted to be- only problem was I was actually an untalented useless tyke and ended up working in Burger King instead. Following that I did something even more uninspiring and went on to University to do a Bachelor of Science degree and then a Masters of Science . However University was not a complete and total waste of time- there was a sewage outfall at Plymouth that used to attract some gulls which got me started on looking at larid. I also learnt a few scientific writing tricks and a few techniques that would come in handy with some other birding stuff.  

3. THE RISE OF THE BIRDERS (1970s-2000s) 


The social revolution of the 1960's had far reaching effects. Fundamentally the revolution was all about empowerment of the masses aka, the rise of popular culture. In addition to pop and rock music there was also popular science movements and out of ornithology emerged pop ornithology known as bird watching but there was also the rock version- birding. I had started birding at 13 years old and by the time I went to University in the early 1990's I had written several bird reports, found a first for Surrey and numerous firsts for Beddington Farmlands- there was some real un-chartered territory on my doorstep, nooks and crannies where the great and good ornithologists from the old guard had not gone and the universities and ivory towers were either too busy with institutional maintenance or had bigger fish to fry. The old guard basically couldn't keep up and a new lighter, faster moving and sharper scientific creature had emerged. 

There was new ground across the whole of Europe to be taken by the popular ornithological movement and a whole series of ground breaking periodicals and journals popped up in the late 1980s and 1990s- Birding World, Dutch Birding, Alula and also BirdWatch Magazine (and Birdwatching for the dudes).  British Birds Journal had started this trend nearly a century before but by the 1980s was rather dry and become an institution itself- if Birding World and Dutch Birding was the rock scene, British Birds was classical at best and the church choir at worst. Other ground was being made in the production of new field guides, new where to watch guides and bird news services and there was even the ornithological equivalent of scientific pornography known as  twitching and an annual gathering the equivalent of Glastonbury- the Bird Fair. 

There were several big names in this movement with Peter Grant (an ex-Beddington birder) and Killian Mullarney leading on the new approach and gull identification, Gantlett and Millington with Birding World,, there was Hadarom Shirihai, Lars Svensson, Per Alstrom and ground breaking bird illustrators such as Ian Lewington and Lars Jonnson. The whole gang inspired me to contribute to the birding movement and there were many more greats local and beyond that I admired greatly. 

One of my biggest heroes is Mark Constantine- the not so hidden hand behind some of the most significant and cutting edge developments in birding- the money and contributor behind Dutch Birding, the Collins Bird Guide and later the Sound Approach. An alchemist and perfumer by trade and co-founder of the high street chain store Lush (Cosmetics), he is more of a wizard and cult leader in life, I've heard him refer to scientific puritanism in birding as pedantry (heresy to the Asperger's brigade) and is clearly more concerned with the big picture and instead of spending an entire career trying to describe a new species of bird  (which he sent out his boys to do anyway) he has created an entire new human subspecies known as Lushies - multi-coloured haired vegan hedonists that concoct all manner of magical potions and successfully sell them to all manner of various forms of the Capitalist's victims dragging themselves along the high street.  Now raking in over £500 million a year , Lush, continue to fund developments in birding and conservation and also fund a whole suite of radical groups and activists while using an ethical capitalism model to employ tens of thousands of people. Fundamentally flawed maybe? (what isn't?) but wizardry and the use of magic at its best. 

Anyway the rise of the birders was mainly pre-internet and we are now in a new era of birding and popular ornithology where globalisation developments such as Cornell Lab which has effectively emerged as the silicon valley of birding and where swarm and hive developments are taking over, global taxonomies are crystallising and recording systems such as e-bird are becoming global platforms. There are also important alignments of birders efforts with cross spectrum societal activity , the commercialisation and industrialisation of birding and an important politicisation of the birding movement too (tried to collect some of these developments HERE and HERE in Birdwatch Article. All these developments are part of a build up towards the re-booting of the global system, an upgrade from capitalist growth economies to sustainable societies where birders have been instrumental in ensuring that birds are part of that future- a future where birds and nature will be valued even more and will become more integrated into the blueprints that govern development. 

2. MY MENTORS (1990-2010) 
There were three 'elders' that had a profound impact on me. The first was Simon Aspinall (This guy) who had to die young before more people ever heard of him. He was buried in a cardboard box (a cardboard coffin) to save resources. He was a Beddington birder when I was a teenager and was a great rarity finder and explorer and more so he tolerated me and we did quite a bit of birding and some ringing together.. I couldn't be Peter Cook but perhaps I could be a half decent birder.

The second of the three elders was Prof Chris Bowler, my University tutor, who basically advocated passion over grades. abandoned the syllabus on most days and we all went out on bikes fossil hunting and exploring. He was in his 80s and used to call his work colleagues c#nts on occasions and he took me under his wing as some kind of working class pet project. By the end of my degree I was winning department distinction awards for outstanding independent research- I think he rigged it to be honest and got me my scholarship for a masters too which incidentally I also got a Merit in without his direct influence so some of the mud he chucked at me must have stuck.

The third of the three elders was Dr Brian Glaister. I took too many drugs between my degrees and ended up having to see psychologists to deal with an anxiety state and the resulting introduction to cognitive behaviour techniques, lots of new drugs, the mental disorder scene, neuro-linguistic programming and an endless parade of other quacks, charlatans and mavericks profiteering from mental misery. It was from the rebel Dr Brian Glaister who finally provided some solutions. He advocated there is no chemical solution to mental well being (an act of heresy to the capitalists and the global drug industry) and that we have no control over our thoughts (so basically denounced most psychological therapy techniques- further heresy). He worked in the NHS as a psychologist his whole life (another 80 year old) and taught me acceptance, commitment and impartial observation- simple but very powerful ideas. In essence, philosophy is a solution to psychology.

1. THIS LITTLE PUMPKIN (2017-2017) 


This is what it all comes down to as far as I can tell- the joy of the nearest of the dearest and there is nobody  more dearest (except his mother of course who might be reading this!) than this little chap.  

As far as I'm concerned the journey from the primordial soup to this point in earth history (late Capitalism/the early Anthropocene) is all about  making sure the future is a better place than where we are now (that has always been nature's objective as far as I'd like to believe)- so that this little fella and his generation can have a wonderful nature filled life. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

My Heroes- Remembrance Day

I've been overcome with nostalgia following remembrance Sunday- lest we forget, which for some means lest we forget so that war should never happen again and for others lest we forget so that we make sure we get the boot in first before someone else does. So following a day of remembering how we blow each others legs off with landmines, cover children's skin in burning napalm, gas each other in chambers, kill playing children with remote controlled drones etc, on that nostalgic theme, here's my top 10,  in chronological order of some of the individuals, groups and movements on every level, (personal relationships, local, regional, global and universal) that have been the strongest influences on me.

10. Early times: The Primordial Soup, the first Eukaryotas, the pre-Cambrian explosion, the Cambrian to Jurassic radiation, the K-T event, the rise of the mammals, the naked ape mutations and the discovery of hunting, farming, the local council and 'civilisation'. 

Do we have a remembrance day for the Primordial Soup? No! We should have. Humans spend more time thinking about Cup-A-Soup than the early broth from which we were all concocted. Anyway, putting that aside, I don't have much memory of my early days but thanks to writing (yay!!) I can download those memory files.

The K-T event- not much memory of this although my DNA survived it. My DNA reckons it was one of  those 'at- times -like -this -the -words- oh -bolloxs- spring- to- mind -times'  
Where it all began (artist's impression). 

9. Paul and the Apostles of Jesus (BC/ AD boundary) 
I was brought up in a fundamental Christian cult which basically taught me the importance of rebelling against anything that walks and talks like a load of nonsense  i.e. the cult I was in. The irony of institutional Christianity and its rituals which are in stark contrast to the revolutionary spirit of Jesus and his apostles (who basically advocated symbiosis, creativity and de-centralised autonomy over centralised state/institutional power and rituals and encouraged direct rebellion against the system- to the death if required) was not wasted on me. It set my course for challenging any ideological framework no matter how big (think about the former power of institutional Christianity and its now redundancy).

Out of the early Christian hell raisers, who basically started off a global revolution- Paul was my favourite. He started off life slaughtering Christians but later converted and became the biggest advocate of Christianity- not an easy thing to pull off, 'sorry I slaughtered your mum can I join your group? '. He then travelled around causing riots and turning the people against the government and got them forming independent communities,( a spiritual concept that would later evolve into E-bay) and on his third missionary journey, where he was a Roman prisoner (for causing so much trouble),  he survived a ship wreck on Malta (where my mum is from) only to make it to Rome to tell the good news to Caesar Nero who had him executed after Nero heard the message that Love is All You Need.

You got to laugh at that. That why Paul is my favourite.

Paul winding up the locals 

8. Frederick 2nd of Hohenstaufen (1194-1250)

Also known as the original Hoff this gezer was one of the first to work out that you can wind up those in 'authority' just by looking at birds and wildlife. Ex-communicated twice and treated as the Antichrist by Pope Gregory IX , Dante placed him in the sixth circle of his hell, reserved for heretics. Like most early birders, he was a hunter and also a falconer and compiled his observations in a book De arte venandi cum avibus (On the art of hunting with Birds) which actually covered all kinds of aspects of birds and bird behaviour.  Papal troops burnt the original manuscript (birding and observation of nature is always one of the greatest acts of rebellion against a power house that wants individual attention directed towards serving their ridiculous version of reality- the Capitalists being the modern incarnation of such dicks) but a copy was sent to Rome. The work was not unearthed until the 18th Century by ornithologists and was not fully printed until 1943. Hope there for all the apparently pointless recording that modern naturalists and organisations like the BTO do at the present which the Capitalist's wipe their arses with. These systems of recording and monitoring nature that we are inventing now should be of some use to more enlightened future generations if anyone survives the latest incarnation of human induced global cataclysm.

The modern day Hoff claimed by some in Croydon to be an impostor of the original and best Hoff 

7. Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) and the C18th fathers of modern ornithology 

If these midguided fools ever knew that the cutting face of all their work would end up first in the hands of Gantlett and Millington's Birding World journal and then spill over into a massive internet fart of birdforum posts, tweets and facebook likes I think they would have done the only sensible and noble thing available at the time- shoot themselves in their country houses. However lucky for the likes of Kevin McManus (our local homeless bird group member) and bottom dwelling creatures such as myself they didn't have a fucking clue that democracy and freedom was coming and every oik and harlot would soon be able to contribute to the great ornithological project- forming an inventory and management system for the avian natural world to go forward into the Anthropecene following the Capitalist's apocalypse.

The list of ermine cloaked wigged fathers of ornithology is extensive, Thomas Bewick, Morten Thrane Brunnich, Carl Linnaeus,  the Reverend Gilbert White and other kiddy fiddler looking men headed up the stampede- a stampede that would later lead to legends in our own life time such as Lee Geoffrey Evans and Garry Messenbird. However my favourite of all is Peter Pallas- he was a great explorer (actually went out in the field rather then sending other people out and then taking all the credit for it) and spent six years exploring the Urals, the Caspian sea area and South China, writing it all up in the 1771 Reisen durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russichen Reiches. 

Called by the Russian Imperial Court to work at the Academy of Saint Petersburg, he was a medical doctor and zoologist and was summonsed personally by the Empress Catherine the Great to lead a mission to Siberia whose main motive, behind all the pomp, was to compete with Western Powers and whip their arses in exploiting natural resources and bring the entire planet to the brink of extinction, unbeknown to them, a cunning plan by nature herself to form a blueprint from the furnace of that apocalypse for a continually re-booting and updating planetary system- where they would work very hard towards their own redundancy and the empowerment of others that they despised. All the ermine, whigs and external displays of material power were the price they had to pay (or in their warped minds the reward) to maintain their own delusions, kill themselves off,  get the job done and hand the reigns of power to a group of plebs dressed up as Badgers. 

In short, Peter Pallas is my favourite because he has the same name as me! Awesome!! 

Brian May, as well as singing Fat Bottom Girls he is also considered by some as the saviour of the entire natural world and is charged by Mother Nature herself with catapulting the Linnaen System, the global taxonomy, blueprints for biodiversity action plan habitats, vulnerability classification systems, the modern recording systems and extensive catalogue of keys works of the entire ornithological effort from antiquity to present through the bottle neck of the Capitalist's apocalypse and into the Sustainable Future. 

6. Francois Levaillant (1753-1824) and the Golden Age of Ornithology Boys 
I better speed this up. So ornithology went on and a load of wealthy play boys (Temminck, Lichtenstein, Coeus, Baird, Wilson, Bonaparte etc etc) went round collecting specimens and listing all the bird species on the planet and stuck them in museums after they (metaphorically speaking) stuck them up each others arses in some early version of competitive world listing. This was to be the foundation of the Surrey Big Day, where local birders like myself from Beddington Sewage Farm could dash around the vice county of Surrey and tick off any species they could see in 24 hours from a list that had been compiled by the 1858  founded British Ornithological Union ( and had been transferred into user friendly (pleb versions) fieldguides and apps) part of a universal effort of global and regional taxonomists/ornithologists to combine museum and field data to form the closest fit possible to the natural world order of avian diversity. Different groups from local patches of Surrey now compete in the Surrey Big Day to see who can see as many species as possible- the winners get fuck all. 

Francois Levaillant- my favourite one of the 'Golden Boys'- from the C19th Golden Age of Ornithology - he is my favourite because he looks a bit like Derek from Derek and Clive . Apologies to the feminists here but there really wasn't many women involved in early ornithology but like all things it looks like it is going to be the girls who ultimately save the planet and its birds from the silly games that men play and from idiots like me. 


Tune in tomorrow for the top 5! 

Friday, 10 November 2017

This week

A quiet week on the natural history front from my end with the biggest news being the Beddington Farmlands petition which is now near 2000 supporters HERE. Also got awarded some kudos points with Viridor and Pennon who have blocked me from commenting on their social media.

Met up with local young naturalists Arjun and Sid on Sunday morning and had a look round the farmlands. In the afternoon met up with Sue at Rainham with the family, highlights included Marsh Harrier and Avocets. Did a few morning window watches and roost counts- some Woodpigeon movement, thrushes and Redpolls and Siskins. Not much moth action- a few New Zealand Apple Moths (which presumably think its Spring- stupid fools!) , a Silver-Y,  November moths, Double-striped Pug and a Pale Mottled Willow. Managed to get a bike ride in and checked out the works in Beddington Park- £3.7 million worth of works underway. Today visited Queen Mary's Woodland to check out the reserve benches that we were commissioned to do- all looking good.

 Avocets at Rainham 
 Buzzard over the farmlands. Jack Snipe and Dartford Warbler on the farmlands at the moment.
Evenings now are dominated by big roost movements of Ring-necked Parakeets and Jackdaws
 The Beddington Park Lake currently drained for dredging and re-landscaping. 

One of our benches at Queen Mary's Woodland , commissioned by the Sutton Nature Conservation Volunteers 


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

PLEASE SIGN THE NEW PETITION

This is the final big push. Please sign and share petition from the Wandle Valley Forum (that represents 120 community groups) for Sutton Council to enforce planning conditions on Viridor/Pennon and create the Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve. Over 800 signatures in 24 hours so far.



Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Blocked by Viridor and Pennon on Social Media


Click on blue facebook symbol for details 

Inside Croydon Feature

Started a new nature feature for Inside Croydon:



Saturday, 4 November 2017

Here we go again

I was hoping to not be looking at gulls until at least mid-November but things are getting increasingly more winter like and today Dave Campbell found Yellow-legged and Caspian Gull at the farmlands. Winter is a long haul so its never a rush to get there, although this winter is almost certainly our last gull winter at the farmlands (the incinerator should be working by Spring 2018) and landfill is due to stop at the end of this year. So like last year going to make the biggest effort possible to find a mega gull before the history books close on that era of the farmlands. 

However autumn is not over yet and there's still some new moths coming in and the winter thrushes are still on the move and should be for  two or three weeks more too. After that it's gull watching, looking for winter vagrants and hoping for a hard winter movement before the Quakers and March Moths start to appear in February heralding very early Spring. When you think winter lasts from mid-November to mid-February/March, that's four to five months- in long winters that's a few weeks off Spring, Summer and Autumn combined. A good time of year to get some foreign travel in and catch up with lab work too. 

 First-winter Caspian Gull 
 First-winter Caspian Gull 

A few recent moths from Beddington 
 Yellow-lined Quaker (a local scarcity) 
White-triangle Slender  Caloptilia stigmatella 
 Acleris notana/ferrugana? 
Yellow-backed Clothes Moth  Monopsis obviella/ (crocicapitella?) 
London Dowd Blastobasis lacticolella