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Sunday, 31 May 2020

Battersea Power Station Latest






If you recall the pair laid 4 eggs and all was looking pretty normal fare with the 1st egg hatching on May 1st, after this I eagerly watched the remaining 3 on the CCTV.There usually pretty close thereafter, 1 or 2 days or so but sadly that was it, the remaining 3 were no doubt infertile.

She brooded them for a further 3 weeks but it could be that age may be catching up with her, she arrived in the winter of 2012 as an adult so definitely 9 or 10 or possibly older, getting on a bit in peregrine terms.

The chick is thriving, as of today one month old, now standing up on her legs, notice I said her; she seems to have the characteristics of a female. ‘She’ is more reserved in what she does, its took her ages to build confidence to leave the box, she seems less confident. Males on the other hand always seemingly go at everything, including fledging first, full of attitude usually and in your face, certainly seems so when I pick up “grounders”.

I’m probably wrong, won’t be the first time but interesting to see.








From the start of the year I have been recording prey coming into the box, the Tiercel is doing the Lions share at the moment, he is no doubt the local Ring Necked Parakeet nemesis, to date he has taken 28 of them. Many of the Tiercels hunts take him over Battersea Park; I suspect it is here that he is intercepting the Parakeets. 

This year on the CCTV alone, I have noticed that they are switching more to ‘wild birds’ rather than the normal Feral Pigeon mainstay of prey taken. For 20 years, more or less every hunt at dawn has always been to intercept the Feral Pigeons heading south, from either the chimneys or the Cranes.

There is no doubt this year that Feral Pigeon numbers are reducing, due to construction as the Power Station closes up and they cannot get access to roost and nest.

The highly adaptable Peregrines have adjusted and are just taking more ‘wild’ species, hence the number of Parakeets taken this year, far more than I see annually on the CCTV.



I had my first grounded bird on May 22nd unbelievably, for this juvenile to have fledged this early meant that she must have laid in the 1st week of March working it back, it was very likely the most advanced family in the UK.

Couldn’t get the little chap back up high, so took him to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital where he was fed, cared for and checked over before I released him back on May 27th.

Feisty male but now back with the adults and siblings.

Since then in May, there has been 2 other grounders, seems to get earlier and earlier every year. 



Saturday, 16 May 2020

Parliament





May 9th



I was able to visit on the above date under essential work for the first time since lock down; if memory serves my last visit was March 7th. The visit was to check whether breeding or not and additionally, any potential safety issues that could possibly arise through netting (if any works had taken place).

Arriving at 5.00a.m, the Park was still closed so I walked Abingdon Street, Westminster Bridge and the Abbey looking for signs of them.



Empty Abingdon Street




Located the Tiercel at roost on the base of Middle Tower before he went up hunting, eventually the park opened around 6 and I was able to keep an eye on the nest box.



The Park

Over the next 3 hours I watched it pretty intently, the hoped for nest relief did not materialise but based on the actions of the Tiercel over this period it looks very good. The fact is that over the morning I did not see the Falcon, so she was either covering eggs or likely chicks at this stage or she was not present at all.

However his actions, he took no prey during my visit, but on 2 occasions he did flybys of the box calling and I could see his head turned looking towards it. Tiercels love to incubate as we know; I would presume he was trying to get her to exit so he could take over.

This didn’t work, so on a 3rd flyby he went directly to the box, for around 2 minutes he stared inside before leaving.



Roost Position







The obvious scenario is that she would not lift and switch over, possibly likely knowing he had not taken prey, its more or less prey first and then you can incubate as Falcon’s are very dominant, especially early morning.

This happens a lot at Battersea, with the Tiercel trying it on many times arriving prey less and then being sent on his way.

The other scenario is that he was going to the box to look for cached prey, however signs point towards breeding hopefully, the only other thing to consider is that she was off elsewhere hunting for herself or not present at all.



Tiercel - leg ring doesn't look like the standard BTO issue

I will confirm this week now that I am allowed out.







Saturday, 25 April 2020

Foxy



Some more of the Fox, getting regular now, came and joined me out in the Car Park whilst having my Coffee the other morning, partial to a cocktail sausage.













Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Fox





Some photos taken from the Flat during lock down. The Fox is getting pretty tame with no people around and at times is looking exceptionally relaxed.

Dark and worrying times but nature is always there to look at,stay safe everyone.















Thursday, 2 April 2020

Battersea Power Station Prey






Jan 1st – April 1st



Since the start of the year with the aid of the CCTV, I have been recording prey which has been taken into range of the cameras.

It marks a 3 month period, most of which I can identify but obviously some not, some of the unidentified were also taken at night.

Obviously due to the cameras I am aware of just how much they are hunting nocturnally, I am very lucky to be able to record and monitor this, on playback you miss absolutely nothing.

A massive thanks go to Battersea Power Station Development Company Ltd for allowing me to do this; it offers an incredible insight into their behaviour, especially nocturnally.

Below is what I have recorded so far.


Feral Pigeon – 35 – (21 Diurnal/14 Nocturnal)

Ring Necked Parakeet – 10 Diurnal

Starling – 4 Diurnal

Goldfinch – 2 Diurnal

Woodcock – 2 Nocturnal

Fieldfare – 1 Nocturnal

Moorhen – 2 Nocturnal

Little Grebe – 2 Nocturnal

Redwing – 1 Nocturnal

Chaffinch – 2 Diurnal

Unidentified – 6 (4 nocturnal – 2 diurnal)



You will notice that a good percentage of the prey taken is nocturnal, in the case of Feral Pigeons the Falcon was very active from the hours of 2.30a.m, this was exceptionally regular.

Of the prey I recorded - 67 species it equates to 41 Diurnal and 26 Nocturnal, so it works out 38% of prey was nocturnally taken during this time period.

Although the Tiercel joins in the nocturnal hunts from the Tower, the main hunter was always the Falcon pre egg laying. Having checked the Refuse Centre next door nocturnally, it is very open and accessible, it is also illuminated inside and the Feral Pigeons access it at all hours as a food source.

The nocturnal Feral Pigeon prey is being taken, whilst the pigeons are leaving/flying back to the Power Station from roost, accessing the Refuse Centre at all hours. It ties in with the start of the hunt on camera, when she takes a Feral and then how long she is away from the camera, they are only short flights.

I also believe that over the course of time they are taking Feral Pigeons at roost, having seen where they roost in darkness, there is little doubt that birds roosting also provide a prey source.

Having watched other pairs nocturnally, I know they and many other pairs are using London’s artificial light, I think the Power Station pair, have exploited the Power Station Feral Pigeon population and took it a stage further. This is substantiated by the amount of night time prey taken, they are exploiting an available food source, additionally they are also supplementing this with wild birds moving along the river or overhead.


The ghostly image is the Falcon returning with a Moorhen

Tiercel hunting

Just taken prey
It could be that many pairs may well be hunting like this more extensively, I have just been lucky enough to record it on camera more.

Of course the number of prey species, which I have seen on the cameras, is no doubt just a percentage of what was really taken, the fact of the matter is that they won’t bring all prey back to the cameras.

There are a number of other positions/caching points which they use regularly, so the total is likely far higher for prey recorded for the 3 months.





Sunday, 29 March 2020

Cooling Marshes





Both myself and Paul managed to finish the last of the surveys in March before we went into lock down, March was the finish of them before we hopefully begin again in October.

It’s been 2 a month, high and low tide and if I recall correctly this is our 7th consecutive year out on the North Kent Marshes, as I have said before I love the wildness of the place although at times with the cold and cutting constant wind I have cursed it.

Over the winters we have seen some of the rarer birds out there, Rough Legged Buzzard, male Hen Harrier, Lapland and Snow Buntings, Shore Lark, around 4 Richards Pipit, Great Grey Shrike and Woodlark. Good birds to see anywhere, male Hen Harriers are always magical and memorable seeing one for me, just a pity they are such a rarity these days due to the relentless persecution.

In the March finishing surveys we were also lucky enough to catch up with a couple of early spring migrants moving through, Wheatear and Little Ringed Plover, also an early single calling Yellow Wagtail was seen on the last survey.



Corn Bunting


Initially thought this was White Wagtail with sharp border but settled for Pied.


Always great to see in the Spring - Wheatear
On the last high tide survey the Curlew roost hit 107 and I had the most Avocets at roost I have seen for quite a while – 330, good numbers.

Also a nice 2nd summer male Marsh Harrier with what looks like Marsh Frog legs hanging down as prey.


Marsh Harrier






Like many others I have started to do a window list, more on that later.





Friday, 27 March 2020

NHS - Battersea Power Station






In these troubling times and seeing what is happening all across the UK and the world, life has changed and suddenly become dangerous. The easy part is ours having to stay home, my respect and admiration goes out to the NHS having to deal with this front line.

They are the ones bearing the brunt of this, especially in many cases, not having the proper protection and knowing the threat is far greater in communication with patients.

As I said my gratitude for each and every one of them working for the NHS is immense, can you imagine going to work into this environment every day as they do?

They need our support just by staying home.

On a lighter note I have been keeping an eye on the cameras at Battersea Power Station, they are going well, 3 eggs so far, the Falcon is approaching 10,quite old in peregrine terms so it may well be the extent of the clutch.

However she has surprised me since her arrival in 2012 with large clutches, 3 lots of 5 eggs so I will keep an open mind on it.

Before we went into lock down, we had another intruding Tiercel at the Power Station, an adult, eventually seen off by the resident male but quite a tussle at times. No injuries thankfully to either bird, I know the damage the talons can do.













I have seen a number of intruders over the years, I have to say this particular one was a very determined individual and pressed his case quite extensively, he came back at least 3 times before finally getting the message.

Stop Press - she has laid a 4th egg!