I first went to Beddington as a schoolboy birdwatcher in 1974. This was during a 'quiet' period in its birding history, as the flooding of large fields had been stopped and most of the drying out of sludge took place in small banked beds. However, the hedgerows, dykes, charming brick-built outbuildings and mature willows, oaks and elms were still present and bestowed upon the site a feeling of being in a time-locked piece of countryside. The Tree Sparrow population was healthy, Lapwings and Yellow Wagtails bred freely, the open fields hosted small winter flocks of Ruff (and sometimes Golden Plover) and Short-eared Owls were a 'given' during most winters (with up to 12 during the winter of 1978-79). This is the place where I cut my birding teeth. I still allow my mind to wander back to those carefree and stimulating days. During the late summer and autumn of 1975 I have never - and I mean never - felt so excited by birding as I did during those few weeks. The passage of waders in that period was varied and most visits saw me crawling up the banks of one particular bed on 100 acre almost shaking in anticipation at what would be on show when I got to the top - Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Knot and Spotted Redshank being found amongst the commoner wader species that were also present.
Beddington of recent times may get the birds, but the place is not the Beddington that I want to remember. A large incinerator will not improve that at all. The Lapwings and Tree Sparrows are just about hanging on, but for how long?
|A settling bed on 100 acre. This part of the farm looks just as it did when I was a schoolboy birdwatcher.|