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Tuesday, 7 January 2020

2020 arrives - Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone and yet another year and approaching breeding season is with us for the peregrines, as they breed and come under licence relatively early, already communicating with breeding sites.

However I also got a couple of visits out in this first week, to the Ingrebourne Valley and Beckton Sewage Works, grabbed a few hours here and there to get the annual patch list up and running.

In the case of the Valley, the traditional New Year’s Day bash delivered 58 species with a further visit adding another 7 species, 2 Woodcock being the highlights along with Stonechat from the first visit which can be tricky.

So up and running with 65 species, regular birds yet to be seen include Bullfinch, Little Egret, Yellowhammer, Skylark and Red Legged Partridge amongst others.

Beckton Sewage Works produced 47 species from a couple of visits so far, also added Sparrowhawk on Tuesday on a brief visit to fill up the feeders,looks like he has already found them.

Birds of note seen were Green Sandpiper and Mistle Thrush, the big Thrush is now Red Listed, a pity and a sign of the times for many birds showing declining numbers.

Tick of 2019 and probably the rarest bird to grace the Sewage Works, will undoubtedly go to a Ring Tailed Hen Harrier seen going up the Creek on New Year’s Eve, the white rump quite evident in the morning light.

It bought the 2019 patch list up to its highest ever, with 108 species seen and being a long overdue and totally unexpected first, added to the site list and have now hit 145 species for the site.

I also caught up with the Chiffchaff flock, I found them in a corner feeding and sunning themselves and generally just working a particular area of bushes. Parked up in the car watching them, they behaved quite naturally and gave good views. At one time I estimated around 12 birds in this area of bushes but could see/here others contact calling further afield, it’s likely the Sewage Works as a major winter food source probably holds around 20-30 Chiffies.

No Sibe unfortunately but a good variation in some of the birds.

Monday, 30 December 2019



All looking good as we fast approach the New Year and yet another breeding season, the pair of Common Buzzards in particular, are very active and also showing how versatile they are in looking for food.

There is a particular area where waste, for want of a better word, is stored ready to be moved, recently over the last couple of months I have noticed a couple of Grey Herons and numerous Feral Pigeons foraging in the containers. Obviously a good food source, it appears that the male Common Buzzard has found it also, in fact it is his go to place at dawn from roost.

It just shows how adaptable they are, he is obviously making the Ferals very nervous but the interaction between him and the Grey Herons seems amicable. It provides a good photo opportunity and I intend to secret myself away to record what goes on.

The pair,smaller male in front

Grey Heron about to jump up to the Container

I also recently had 3 of them on site, so can only presume that this is the juvenile still hanging around, like juvenile peregrines they may be tolerated for longer? 

The Kestrels are roosting at the box on the main building and the male in particular has started to hang around near the box far more becoming more territorial to the nest box.

The Sparrowhawks are present, well at least the female anyway as I keep getting fleeting views of her hunting. 

It looks like I am going to finish the year on 107 species, my highest total so far, some good birds along the way like Brambling, Ring Ouzel, Little Gull and Black Tern so looking forward to seeing if I can top that for 2020.

Lastly I would just like to wish one and all a very Happy and prosperous New Year and thanks for reading the blog.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Cooling Cattle Egrets

December 14th

Out on the Marsh again on Saturday, when it blows out there it’s a pretty wild place and this survey will probably go down as the windiest we have ever undertaken.

Having looked at the weather beforehand it was not predicted to be this strong, easily up there on the Beaufort scale as a 7, by the end of the survey both myself and Paul were pretty knackered.

However the birding, not surprisingly a lack of small passerines other than a couple of big flocks of Skylark/Starling, proved pretty rewarding with our first site tick of Cattle Egret, 3 no less which were no doubt the 3 that had been in the area east of us for the last month or so. 

We watched them for a while and got a few shots around the Cattle, pretty wind resistant unlike us as they moved around the Cows, a good tick and showing a sign of the times that we now have had all 3 Egrets on site. 

Wouldn’t have entertained that idea 10 years ago.