Beddington Farmlands Bird Group

Main Lake



The following texts on the history of the farmlands have all been copied from Peter Alfrey's book, ' The birds of Beddington Farmlands '.






Beddington is a place of constant change. In the past century or so, the farm has been utilised for many purposes, ranging from arable farming, livestock grazing, housing, sewage treatment, sewage disposal, gravel extraction, landfill, waste recycling, flood relief, motorbike scrambling and go-carting. Against this busy backdrop of commercial interests, migrating birds and the local avifauna have also staked their claim on the land. This claim has been considerable with nationally important populations of certain key species such as Tree Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper and Shoveler. Beddington has also been very important for migrating birds and hosts large wintering populations.


Over the decades, bird populations have pinched and swelled as the land has been put to different uses and as macro-changes have been implemented there have been winners and losers amongst the bird populations. At certain stages, various land uses have resulted in these resources for birds being scarce, resulting in an impoverished avifauna. At other times, fate has dealt a good hand for the birds, with land uses inadvertently providing food and opportunity. In addition, focused conservation management in recent years has influenced conditions for birds.


The loss of sewage farms that were the most productive of artificial wetlands created by man has been recognised nationally (Fuller 2009).  Beddington has been the great survivor: the London Bird Report used to have numerous reports from Perry Oaks, Epsom, Worcester Park, Elmers End and others but no longer.  Other even more famous sewage farms have disappeared off the map, including Wisbech, Nottingham and Cambridge.


However, at the present time, the farm has entered an uncertain and rather bird impoverished stage. There have been bottlenecks in the past, which have preceded returns to a more satisfactory form. Beddington is a story of resilience, adaptability and opportunism. What the past has proven, is that for as long as opportunity is provided, the birds, in one form or another, will come. This is the challenge that is set for future years and will hopefully lead to the generation of a thriving urban nature reserve.