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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!

Monday, 23 March 2020

Beckton Sewage Works

Now fast approaching and in some cases already breeding, Spring is more or less here, the winter migrants like Teal and Redshank are fast reducing as the breeding urge kicks in. Lots of display and courtship battles already taking place amongst both species, Shelduck is another that has ongoing battles for females amongst the males.

Many Shelduck are already paired, nest sites as you know are usually Rabbit holes and such like, many Brownfield sites next to the Thames that hold Rabbits are fast disappearing in East London as the land gets eaten up under development. My old stomping grounds of Barking Bay is a prime example, the Shelduck used to nest in burrows in good numbers quite a way from the Thames and then walk the Ducklings down to the water. With the land disappearing under Brick and Mortar, nest sites will disappear, hence another Inner Thames breeder reducing. It’s little wonder with no mitigation, purpose built Shelduck Banks would be a good start all along the Thames.

Elsewhere on the Sewage Works the Kestrels are fast approaching egg laying as you will see from the photos, as with Peregrines multiple copulation's right up to egg laying.

The Iceland Gull as of March 18th was still present along with the Stonechat, the Common Buzzards however seem to have moved on to pastures new.

Stay safe everyone in these difficult times.

Monday, 16 March 2020


Hi, it’s been quite hard in the last month or so to get some decent weather to catch up on the pair, I at last got in a visit on Saturday March 7th, not the hoped for blue skies but a bit overcast after a promising sunrise.

Nice sunrise but didn't last

When I arrived in Victoria Gardens Park in semi darkness, I could see the Falcon straight away roosting right next to the nest box, a good sign, after a short while she then entered the box before re emerging 3 minutes later. The Tiercel then materialised on a fly by and both then headed over to Westminster Abbey, had a walk round but could not locate either bird.

However with her roosting near and entering the box, it is pointing in the right direction for breeding hopefully, as we get closer she will spend much of her time close or in the box with the Tiercel undertaking the hunting.

I settled down to wait in the Park and eventually after an hour or so spied them on the Abbey, walking round found her on the Methodist Hall with the Tiercel back on Victoria Palace. Both looked like they had fed a little, a couple of sorties after by the Tiercel but half hearted.

Methodist Hall - one of the buildings they use




Tiercel just about be seen

With more stability after last year, hopefully she will start spending more time round the nest box, normal laying is any time from now onwards for London. We will see what transpires in the next couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed for breeding and stay safe people, certainly worrying times.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Beckton Sewage Works

The changing of the guard occurred at Beckton with the first spring breeder back in the shape of a returning Oystercatcher, first seen early in February, it marks the earliest returning bird I have had at the Sewage Works.

The Kestrels have become very territorial and the female in particular is becoming glued to the box, with the recent bad weather, not unexpectedly, worms have featured a lot on the diet. The Kestrels in particular will stay under cover, fly out quickly, grab a couple of worms and then back up, they get wet but they don’t go hungry.

It’s a substantial never ending food source and they, along with the Common Buzzards on site rely on worms heavily in foul wet weather.

Female Kestrel in better weather


Wet after worming

In regards to the pair of Common Buzzards I have not seen them now in over a week, it’s possible that they may have sought another territory for breeding, hopefully they will return. They’re pretty nailed on when I want to locate them, favouring the same stretch of trees, after last year’s success I thought it would be normal service this year but perhaps not. 

Drake Shoveler - likely breeding on site

Great Spot - new addition to the Feeders

Squirrel proof - is there such a thing, so far so good.

I have marked the Sparrowhawks nest for 2020, I am hoping she will just follow on using it for this year but seem to recall from someone, that it’s not a given the following year. 

I have also bought myself a Medaisse Trail Cam(s), still learning how to use it but good fun and getting some good images which I will eventually post.

It is very sensitive though, first time I used it, it gave me over 400 shots of the Wind Turbine Blades on site, quite amusing looking afterwards if you’re a fan of wind turbine blades, but I had not allowed for their sheer size, I thought distance meant that it would not be picked up. You live and learn as they say, I was trying to get one of the Kestrels, I set it to close to the turbine and I can now say I am an authority on wind turbines blades, positioning is key and avoid windy days!

I also recorded Stonechat on site for the first time, been after one over here for years, a good addition pushing the site bird list up to 146.

At last

Monday, 17 February 2020

Battersea Power Station

Storm Ciara  

Sunday 9th

Storm Ciara rolled in on the previous weekend and the wind and rain as you know was quite horrendous, it was much the same this weekend just gone with Storm Dennis, on both weekends I kept an eye out on the peregrines at Battersea Power Station on CCTV.

Tragic to see what is happening to some areas of the country with people losing their homes/livelihood, the climate is changing and sadly a sign of things to come. The money ploughed into something like HS2 could have been better spent on Flood Defences; we are going to need them.

In truth I did not expect them to figure much on the CCTV, I thought the Falcon/Tiercel would lay/rest up somewhere else safe for the day, they are masters of the wind but this was extreme and obviously very dangerous. Hunting was out of the question and unless they had cached prey it was likely that they would not feed.

On the Sunday 9th Storm Ciara arrived, the day unfolded with the Falcon entering the nest box at 4.44a.m, she then undertook a mammoth stint until 2.23pm when she left. This means that she was in there for 9 hours 39 minutes solid waiting out the storm, it was likely that hunger forced her out and obviously the Tiercel not coming in with prey. She then returned at 2.54pm and then left again at 4.58pm presumably to roost elsewhere or perhaps hunt nocturnally as the light went and the winds lessened. So all in all she did 11 hours 43 minutes in the box with a short break likely for a cache search, when she did come back her crop was still flat but I suspect she may have scraped by on some cached prey.

It is perfectly normal(though far from normal weather) for her to do this length of time, it is no different from incubation, it also shows the value of a nest box in giving her relief from the storm, the fact is that boxes do give them an easier time of it. Of course without the box she would find a sheltered position, as did the Tiercel no doubt but during incubation she has no choice, good to see she went straight to it as the weather deteriorated in the early hours.

The Tiercel during this period unsurprisingly did not visit and was laid up somewhere, undercover no doubt out of the ferocious winds and rain unable to hunt.

The Falcon hunting in better weather on Friday 14th

Both out pair hunting from one of the many Cranes

Eyes locked on a Feral Pigeon,trying to keep in focus was a challenge

The Falcon already moving at speed after leaving the chimney

Masters of the Cranes


Good to see the following morning on Monday they took prey straight way.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Beckton Sewage Works

The feeding station has now attracted the attentions of a Brambling, looks like a female, it come in with the Chaffinches and presumably one of the 2 seen last year.

A good year tick no less and great to see the feeders now attracting up to 25 birds of a variety of species, 2 bloody grey squirrels have also found it.

Having seen a recent video of a squirrel trying to get up a greased pole I now intend to do this, I know it will give me hours of amusement watching them try. They can’t get to the big feeders but there already on the peanut ball and fat square, over the years they have cost me a lot of money so if this works it should be a lot of fun, it’s not often you outwit them. 

Greenfinch - declining

The pair of Common Buzzards are looking good again for breeding, noticed a couple of times when viewing them early a.m that their crops are already full. I have seen them worming in the darkness under the artificial light of the Sewage Works so suspect they may be doing this more than originally thought. 

Recent bad weather and rainfall has bought the worms out, I know the Kestrels are picking them off as well, also seen the male Kestrel in the dark as well, both species exploiting a food source under artificial light.

Also came across a very poorly Fox, riddled with mange and a bad back leg, it’s obviously in a lot of discomfort and sad to see, will make some enquiries as to what can be done if anything.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Cooling Marshes - Snow Buntings and Lambs

Not a bad little survey, with the Storm forecast for the Sunday it was a no brainer to undertake it on Saturday and it turned out quite well. On the way out 2 or 3 Corn Buntings were singing and a distant Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard were also seen.

Wigeon were present in large numbers, very likely up in the air and flocking due to the Tiercel which was later seen doing the same to around 3000 Starlings.

A pair of Ravens were seen initially on the deck and then seen flying west towards Cliffe, no wild Geese other than 3 Dark Bellied Brent’s.

Birds of the day however will go to 5 Snow Buntings feeding along the sea wall, initially just 2 were seen but 5 suddenly materialised into a small flock which gave good views to Paul and myself.

It looked like 4 males in varying stages of plumage and a female, great to see these colourful little Buntings, not a common bird in our part of the world.

No sign of the Richard’s Pipit but we did get to see a Ewe having just produced a lamb, I suspect quite a shock to the little chap as it was none to warm. 

The membrane was still around it which she was eating, can’t recall seeing one this early in the year either but I might be wrong.