Sunday, 25 August 2013

Beddington at its Best!

No matter what happens to Beddington Farm when the weather is right the Farm has a fall of birds. Many are fly-overs or birds that stop off until the weather clears. The passage of birds started in the rain Saturday afternoon with Turnstone and Oystercatcher stopping briefly during heavy rain. I was watching Sutton Utd getting beat 1- 2 by Bishops Stortford but had a note to self moment to visit the Farm the next day!
(North Lake)
The weather overnight was perfect, cloudy with rain and NE wind to take us into the morning. I was up and out early doors arriving at 6.30am. Dodge and Mike were already there setting up the ringing nets in the swamp which was now the high water level on the North lake.

I decided to do another Timed Species Count but may have been a bit too hasty starting on the lakes in the rain. The count was over in a flash with nothing out of the ordinary on the species list. I returned to the hide and within twenty minutes the action started with a flock of Ringed Plover that made their way over the mound towards the Lagoons. Snipe were next... then...
(Marsh Harrier)
I saw a raptor coming in from the NW. At the farm you have to be quick on the draw with id but all I could see was a silhouette and  got as far as “Whats this...” before I had finished my sentence Dodge as sharp as ever exclaimed Marsh Harrier!... This was the first record at the Farm this year..Nice!!
(Tufted Duck)
Excitement was growing in the hide as bird news beeped up on phones and pagers... Sabine’s Gull, Gannet, Black Tern all heading along the Thames the former stopping off at Rainham RSPB . I missed the last record of Sabine’s Gull at the Farm due to being on Scilly Isles. Would they join a group of gulls that would pass by the site by in the next few days!
(Part of a flock of Shoveler)
I still had two areas to cover in my counts. Two species that have been sadly lacking on the lists were Teal and Shoveler. There are not large numbers on the site at the moment but why did I keep missing them during the counts! True to form both species were again seen outside the count time.

Once the rain had cleared Dodge and I walked the mound and had a Yellow Wagtail and a Whinchat on the borders of the South Lake. A visit to the lagoons produced the group of Ringed Plover with a Dunlin.
Today hi-lighted a disadvantage of this survey method on the area of the lakes as other sightings that did not make the list were Hobby, Kingfisher, Cormorant, Swallow, Sand Martin and Kestrel. These species were seen over a few hours therefore all would not have made the count!

I have learnt to leave the hide when there is a combination of sharp eyed birders and ideal weather conditions is just not the done thing! I delayed my counts in the other two areas until the hide had cleared and the weather had improved for walking in.
(Birds at rest Jim's Bed)
I set out with Derek to cover 100 Acre which had a flock of Teal on Jim’s bed and Snipe on one of the sludge beds opposite. At last Teal on one of the lists! During my walk in this area Bulldog phoned me with news of juvenile Ruff on the Lagoons. Hmm I can’t abandon the count so carried on which was to prove costly as I returned to the lagoons and all the waders had gone!
(Willow Warbler)
I covered the path from 100 Acre back to Mile Road the most notable sightings were Willow Warbler one which was having a scrap with a Chiffchaff which gave a good comparison between the two species.

I left the site at around 4.30pm bumping into Pete Alfrey who had already taken a tour around the Farm had a spell in the hide gone home and returned to have a look at the Ruff. I was the bearer of bad news but Pete suggested they might have moved to 100 Acre. I had spent time there and was tired so stupidly decided not to walk back there with him. Big mistake! I received news that Pete had had a juvenile Garganey on 100 Acre.

But this just showed what kind of day it was at the Farm birds dropping in all day long. The weather is looking good for tomorrow as well....!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Beddingtons Fate is sealed!!

Beddington Farms fate was finally sealed today by Boris’s approval of an incinerator that will be built on land put aside for development of a nature reserve. The Farmlands have been chipped away at for many a year now and there is not a great deal left to support in particular Tree Sparrows who have all but disappeared from the site! Nature will reclaim everything in the end as we seal our own fate by destroying all that supports our existence!!

I started my Timed Species Count on the Permissible Footpath which seemed quieter today. The days weather sunny 24c 40% cloud 8mph W wind may have played a big part in this. Fourteen species were recorded -2 on my last count. A skulking Lesser Whitethroat was the most interesting find in this hour.
(Reed Warbler)
100 Acre was next up twenty three species were seen +1 on the last count.  4 Green Sandpiper, 10 Lapwing and a family party of Reed Warbler in the dense reed-bed were the most notable species in this area.
(Archive photo of Tree Sparrow)

Light was slowly slipping away by the time I reached the Lakes. The usual suspects were there in numbers including 112 Canada Geese. 2 Swift were seen over the North Lake and 4 Tree Sparrow near the cage were the most notable finds. This could be the only surviving tree Sparrow group on the Farmlands! To think there were nearly a thousand birds a couple of years ago!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Evening Counts!!

Friday 9th August 2013

I took a walk around Beddington Farm taking the opportunity to carry out my first evening count of species along , The Permissible Footpath , 100 Acre and finally The Lakes. The weather was good 22C Sunny with 50% high cloud and a 10-13mph WNW wind. 
A Whitethroat was the first bird to attract my attention in the scrub just over the bridge. There seemed to be alot more activity along the path today. A Calling Willow Warbler was to be the most notable bird to be recorded along the path. A total of 16 species were noted +4 on my last count.
(100 Acre Jim's Bed)
100 Acre was next with the usual mad scribbling noting the species on Jim’s bed which is the biggest area of water in this area. Green Sandpipers were split between here and the Mitigation scrape. Numbers of this species are down on what I would expect at this time of year. A total of 22 species were noted +3 on my last count.
(Green Sandpiper)
I then scurried through to the North Lake to view some very usual suspects indeed. A Peregrine caused panic in the small starling flock as it sped across the lake in pursuit of a meal. A single Kestrel was not going to be allowed to hunt the margins in peace as a couple of crows mobbed it in flight. A pair of Egyptian Goose arrived on the North lake as light was beginning to fade. A total of 26 species were noted +2 on my last count.
(North Lake)
All three areas were in the + zone this evening which is always good. I still have not recorded any Tree Sparrows around the North lake having completed three counts. Not good!!

I have produced some charts on word but cannot download them into the right format to put onto this blog. Any suggestions gratefully received??

Monday, 5 August 2013

Blustery Beddington!

Sunday 4th August 2013

There are a few Wood Sandpipers in the country at the moment. Beddington usually features at some point as a stop off for this species. Could today be that day?!  I also wanted to carry out an early afternoon Timed Species Count for my species survey so it was off to the Farm at an unusual time of day (2pm)!

The afternoon was sunny with up to 60% cloud with S to SSW wind 12 - 15mph which had some heavy gusts attached to it! This was particularly evident if you were stood on the top of the mound & what was named Mount Beddington.
(Common Kestrel)
I started on the lakes noting 14 Mute Swan & cygnets a Cormorant & 4 Tufted Duck. There were a few Lapwing dotted about on the S Lake. 4 Kestrel were busy hunting over the margins of the S lake & on top of the Mound. I noted 5 Little Grebe which was an improvement on my last effort a couple of weeks ago.
(Canada Goose)
Totally windswept I left the Lakes & made my way through to 100 Acre. If there was a chance of a Wood Sandpiper then this was a good area to find one with the Green Sandpipers. Only 3 of the latter were seen along with 2 Sand Martins who were hawking the almost dry beds near the Go-kart track.

The final area to be covered in my survey was the public footpath. I didn’t have any great expectations as the path runs roughly N to S therefore the wind would sweep through a lot of the path keeping birds low in the vegetation. A single Chiffchaff & Blackcap were the most notable species seen.
(View of South Lake from Mound)
Despite the wind 24 species were recorded on the Lakes +1 difference to my last count. The public footpath 12 species were noted -1 difference to my last count. 100 Acre showed the most change with 19 species -8 difference to my last count.

Having completed my survey I yomped back over Mount Beddington to check the lagoons just in case a wader had slipped in unnoticed but the beds were devoid of waders on this occasion.