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Friday, 16 October 2020

Beckton Sewage Works




New Bird for the site – October 14th



It has taken me quite a while to see this; others have been seeing them of late locally, up or down the Thames but at last have added Great White Egret to the site list.

It was expected, given that they are getting far more commoner and easier to see, it is not the rarity it once was, much the same as Little Egret when they first started to show many years ago, look at them now.









A pity it didn’t land but can’t complain, it brings the site list up to a respectable 147, in the last few weeks I know I have missed Sabine’s Gull and Spoonbill also, the Spoonbill I was told was even feeding on the mud flats. Would suspect it is the recent Rainham bird having a jolly up river, the Sabine’s I was told was feeding at the Outfall, as you know I am not a Gull man but that would have been a mega, they are stunners. 

Elsewhere Redshank numbers peaked at 84, colder weather has bought more down, 7 Black Tailed Godwit were with the Redshank and Teal numbers steadily increase.











One of the Common Buzzards continues to show well, I would say this is the male as opposed to the bigger female, she is far more flighty, a more typical elusive raptor. 

So I need 3 more to get to 150, as winter approaches hopefully a few more rares around the corner.



Friday, 9 October 2020

North Norfolk

 



Myself and Chris visited Norfolk recently, one of the objectives being to see the wintering Pink Footed Geese, quite a visual and audible spectacle as you can imagine, but as we were relatively early in the Autumn, wasn’t expecting too many.

Parking up at Holkham, I have to say we got lucky visually at one point and observed around 600 dropping in from the heavens, saw them coming at distance very high and quite the sight as you can imagine. I would suspect, these had no doubt just come down the East Coast and were more or less at the end of their journey. This was born out when all, in various skeins started to drop down to the waiting Marshes calling nonstop, quite something to see and hear.








After this heading to Wells, we started to pick up a couple of flocks on the surrounding fields and probably ended up seeing around a 1000 Pinkies, it was quite obvious as well, that lots of shoots were in the area. Pheasants/Red Legged Partridges were absolutely everywhere and it was no surprise on these, that there were road casualties, this had attracted the attentions of birds of prey. 

A food source like this is not going to go unnoticed; Common Buzzard will exploit it as will Red Kite.

Common Buzzard I expected to see, but was surprised to see this many Red Kite in the area, at one point I had 7 in view, as we drove round the surrounding area, more were seen.

I am a bit out of touch in Norfolk, we were here a few years back and Red Kite, if I remember, was not a common Raptor to see.





                                                                 A very wet Wheatear







I have to say though, as much as I love my raptors, the sight and sound of the Pink Footed Geese stole it, very wild and stirring to the senses. 



 

 

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Parliament

 


September 16th



Of late they have been a bugger to pick up, I have undertaken several visits over the last few months, a few times just not present at all, or I saw one or both disappearing North or West.

I know that they are returning when not seen, others are picking them up, it could be nocturnal hunting and taking/ feeding on prey elsewhere, if it’s too big to carry back to Parliament they will feed on the nearest building/structure within their territory.

I did manage to catch up with them on September 16th, arriving at dawn as per norm, they eventually came out of roost, both headed off west with both sporadically hunting off the Cranes down Victoria Street beyond the Methodist Hall.

Watched them for quite a while before he eventually took a Feral Pigeon and coincidentally, the Falcon also arrived back with prey also from another area. 

Good to catch up with them at last.



















It’s unfortunate that they did not breed successfully this year, obviously due to lock down hard to keep track of events, however hopefully better things next year. 



 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Battersea Power Station - September

 


It’s been quite a while since the last update on the Power Station Peregrines, we are now into Autumn with winter just around the corner, life has changed and it’s been an unprecedented year for all of us, hopefully better fortune next year. 

The Power Station itself – Phase 2, continues to head for completion, to date from an original 21 Luffer Cranes on this Phase, there is now only one as the finish line comes into sight.

As ever the peregrines, being the adaptable species they are, simply switched back to hunting from the Cranes to the Chimneys, the Falcon instantly favouring the North Eastern. They have never really stopped using the chimneys, it’s just that with so many Cranes present at times, they were spoilt for choice, often using a particular Crane, if it offered more strategic interception of Feral Pigeons leaving the Power Station.

On a recent visit, both were out hunting from the word go at dawn, my little legs had propelled me up 13 floors up the staircase huffing and puffing but definitely worth it, not only for the spectacular pair hunting that followed but a lovely sunrise as well.

Watching them both that morning, sometimes hunting appears very easy for them, but this morning was one where they had to work very hard to eventually take prey, this happened over a 2 hour time period.

During this time, the Falcon undertook 6 hunts and the Tiercel 8 hunts; it wasn’t solid hunting during the 2 hours, both at times rested/preened before going again. They have the infinite patience of a bird of prey, with the prey supply locally it will happen; it’s just a case of when.

On 3 occasions, the visual sight of a large flock of Feral Pigeons leaving the Power Station, prompted immediate action and they both went simultaneously with me struggling to catch them on camera and do them justice.



















As much as I love my Nikon F5.6 200-500mm zoom lense, it is a great lens, I do at times miss my old F4 300mm prime lense for the auto focus alone, it was faster and instant and not so heavy! 

It was the Falcon who took a Feral Pigeon on her 6th hunt and the usual routine followed, back to the Tower, he sat next to her as she fed waiting for his share, as I said endless patience, more often than not she will release the prey to him but on occasions will not.

A great morning watching them, after 20 years of studying/monitoring them, they still stir the blood every time I see one. Hunting at the Power Station is quite simply unrivalled for how close they pass overhead chasing prey, wings closed at times building speed, it is an incredibly spectacular sight.

For those of you not aware also, a permanent nest site has been designed for them and integrated into the fabric of the Power Station itself, it is quite the Des Res and could be opening late next year.