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Thursday, 9 August 2018

Cooling Marshes

I have said it before I know but a North Kent Marshes sunrise takes some beating, over at my favourite place again with just me, the Cows and Sheep for company all morning.
Timed the visit to catch the tide, it was obviously going to be another hot one as I arrived at around 5.30am.

I was hoping for Hobby, the drive out to the track usually produces; the camera was ready but got intercepted by the sunrise.

In 4 hours I saw some good quality birds, top billing will go to a Curlew Sandpiper, seen briefly foraging before heading up river towards Cliffe, just a pity it didn’t hang around for long.

Other goodies were Little Tern, this was in with 9 Sandwich Terns roosting, single Wheatear, 3 Grey Plover, 7 Whimbrel, 4 Bearded Tits, 5 Corn Buntings including a recently fledged juvenile and 25+ Yellow Wagtails.
Black Tailed Godwit were seemingly everywhere, a rough count produced around 285 birds along with a couple of Barwits, also in numbers were Yellow Wagtails, easily 25+ dotted around the Cattle.

Sandwich and Common Terns roosting

On the Raptor front, 2 Common Buzzards were being mobbed by 2 Kestrels and the ever reliable Little Owl was in its usual spot.

Clouded Yellow

Large female Wasp Spider

Male Bearded Tit

Ever reliable

Corn Bunting


Also caught up with my 1st Wasp Spider at the Marshes, a big female no less, have seen them often at Rainham, suspect they are pretty regular in Kent, have just never looked for them out here.

Monday, 30 July 2018


July 30th

After Sunday’s superb Great Shearwater by Andy Lawson and a not too bad a forecast for Monday, I headed down there early a.m arriving at the Fishing Boats at 6.00am.

Birds seen en route were Common Buzzard, a hunting Hobby after Sand Martins and a Wheatear which was good.

Settled in watching until 10.00am, very overcast at times but thankfully not much rain, others were present to around 9.00m but totals below is what I recorded.

Bonxie – 1
Common Scoter – 17
Kittiwake – 1
Little Tern – 9 including a flock of 5
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull – 6 always nice to see these
Fulmar – 9
Manx Shearwater – 1
Balearic Shearwater – 1
Common/Arctic Tern – around 120, lot of movement between 9-10am
Sandwich Tern – 23
Gannet – 264, largest flocks around 25 birds, most birds going east.
Swift – 16 east

The first Shearwater seen I must admit I thought was a Manx but on looking at the photos is actually a Balearic, so easy to be wrong in Sea Watching, need to do it more and brush up on my ID.

A little slow and nothing earth shattering in regards to numbers but an enjoyable visit anyway, although standing still for 4 hours with a dodgy knee is not ideal, time I wised up and got a chair like everyone else.


France in the distance - Boulogne area I think

Little Tern


Sunday, 29 July 2018

Rare Stuff

The last week has been eventful in regards to scarce birds, as we are now into July I am getting some spare time, surveys have finished more or less and peregrine fledging is now over having taken place in June. 

One site that I do not get a chance to visit nowhere near enough is Oare Marshes, Kent perhaps 1 or 2 visits a year which is not on for such a fantastic site.
On Friday I rectified this partly with a dawn visit and got lucky with the Glossy Ibis, I heard that it came to roost late the evening beforehand so was there at first light.
I was expecting it to leave but it stayed and I got a few photos of it, against the sun but not too bad.

Lots of other ‘good’ birds seen including Spotted Redshank, 2 Hobbies, 12 Golden Plover and 2 Turtle Doves, a sign of the times sadly that these were the 1st ones I have seen this year.

Sun up

Glossy Ibis

Southern Migrant Hawker

Also caught up with Southern Migrant Hawker (hoping that I have this right), with both Tawny and Little Owl seen also a great morning.

Missed the Bonaparte’s unfortunately but more than happy with what I had seen.

On Friday a Marsh Sandpiper turned up at Rainham RSPB so a visit was undertaken on Saturday morning.

A first for the site no less and the 1st one in London I understand in 34 years, even more scarce than the Glossy Ibis, it was a cracking bird although distant, eventually got it at the 2nd attempt in the morning.

Marsh Sandpiper

It bought my Rainham RSPB life list nicely up to 225 species so a good few days.

Thanks to Howard for opening up at 7.00am and good to catch up with Birders I haven't seen for a while.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Nocturnal Hunting - Battersea

It is becoming well documented now that many Peregrines are now hunting at night, the pre dawn/lowlight early hour has always been a favourite, but out and out night time hunting seems to be now taking place in many Towns/Cities.
Much of the proper nocturnal time hunting I think relates to taking advantage of a wild bird food source, whether it be migrational or a cold weather movement in the winter.

It is opportune feeding taking advantage of the conditions, urban illumination and the peregrines incredible eyesight.

The relatively weak flying species like Coot, Moorhen, Woodcock, Little Grebe etc, all move around at night as the safest way to avoid predation, all these species I retrieve fairly regularly from prey collections.
Much of the nocturnal data is coming from CCTV, I am lucky enough to be watching a few of them including cameras at Battersea Power Station, it gives you an insight into a previously hidden world, especially when you have playback.
I have now been watching more or less daily now for 3+ years at Battersea and have noted on playback, usually between 12.00am – 3.00am either the Tiercel or Falcon perched, alert, head searching this way and that, obviously in hunting mode.

In regards to prey and nocturnal hunting, it has always been wild birds until recently, on July 20th I happened to log in (off out on a survey) just after 3.00am and saw her arrive live on camera with a live Feral Pigeon.

It was quickly despatched but offers the question, was the Feral taken whilst roosting inside the Power Station?
It is known generally that pigeons are not nocturnal movers, they usually go to roost and that’s it for the night, another consideration possibly is that it was disturbed inside the Power Station and flew and the Falcon intercepted it, opportune feeding?

Whatever it is, if they’re taking them static, nocturnally at roost inside the Power Station, it could be yet another string to their bow in regards to hunting behaviour for this pair.

This was the 11th juvenile this year to ground, it became trapped and was thankfully rescued

Ready to go back up

It flew shortly after this photo and immediately joined its sibling