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Monday, 22 January 2018


Caught up with this little gem recently at Bowyer's Water, Lee Valley, a very confiding bird that didn't seem phased by people walking around the lake,usually not that approachable.

Possibly a 1st winter Drake with more white in the wing panel/head.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Peregrines and the Drone issue

Due to the increasing density of Peregrines in London and the ever increasing density of Drones being used as a marketing/survey and even a leisure tool, it is inevitable that they will clash at some time.

I have touched on this subject before, simply put the 2 don’t mix, peregrines being the highly aggressive birds that they are will either react or ignore them, the big point here is that there is no way of predicting this.

If they were to clash, with the peregrines usual method of attack, dive on it and either hit it or try and grab it; obviously it’s going to sustain injury or worse from the blades.
That’s not to mention the damage possibly sustained to the Drone, they are very expensive.

I have nothing against Drones being used in a responsible manner, in many scenario’s they produce amazing footage, you only have to look at some of the Wildlife programs.

As a marketing tool, especially on high rise blocks they give never seen before footage from the exterior.

However on active Peregrine nesting sites, most of London’s pairs are territorial all year round, the potential for conflict is ever present, of course other than the publicised peregrine sites, Drone operators are not going to know where peregrine sites are to avoid them.

There are currently 30+ pairs in the LNHS area (20 mile radius from St.Pauls) and the Drone issue is arising on many peregrine sites now, it’s a new modern tool which serves a purpose, I can understand it, they offer incredible video footage.

NaturalEngland have recently advised that it could be seen as a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, if a Drone is knowingly flown in an active Peregrine site at any time of year, not just the licence period (Feb 1st to July). Obviously the risks of reaction will be far greater during the breeding season, especially with chicks/juveniles involved.

It would be covered under ‘Reckless or Intentional Disturbance’

As I said above I have nothing against them being used responsibly; however it has to balanced on peregrine sites due to the potential risk, they are a Schedule 1 species.

Regulations are sorely needed for Drone operators in London to avoid peregrine sites, there needs to be a standard approach to the respective governing bodies before any use as I see it.

This way Operators can avoid them and sites that are not publicised can remain so.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Ingrebourne Valley

With a newbie joining the Valley patch year listers, it seems to have spurred everyone on and bought out the regulars competitive streaks.

From New Years Day to date with everyone covering it more thoroughly and putting in more time, it has produced some ‘good’ birds already.

On Saturday 6th however it got even better when Paul (newbie) found 2 Bewick’s Swans on the Reservoir after clocking them flying in, well done squire.

A patch tick for all of us and only the 2nd site record after Les Harrison had 8 flyovers on December 3rd 2010.
Not surprisingly they only stayed for less than 3 hours, both were then seen heading west later by Shaun.

Another good bird arrived on the 8th in the shape of a female Goldeneye, these are not annual and not regular, the last one I personally had was a Drake in the winter of 2013/14.

Some good birds already, hopefully a sign of many more to come for the year, the list is now up to 70, out again today – competitive never……

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Walthamstow Reservoirs

December 15th

Caught up with the wintering Scaup and some Goldeneye before Christmas at the Reservoirs, good to get close views of either birds.
Scaup are always a pleasure to see and well worth the visit just to see the Drake Goldeneye's displaying.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Up and running - Ingrebourne Valley New Years Day

Happy New Year to everyone, I hope everyone had a good holiday.

New years Day found me over the Valley for the now traditional start to the year list hoping to get off to a good start, so it proved with some good birds right from the start.
This year having done an Airport run early a.m, I decided from there to go straight over the Valley at silly o’clock, the idea being to try and hear a few Owls etc.. in the darkness.

Arriving just after 5.00am produced the 1st singer of the morning, Robin as expected, this was quickly followed by a calling Snipe and then a goodie with a overhead calling Woodcock as I approached the viewing area.

With the Owls in mind I headed for the Farm Trail, the idea being to head to the Optimist Woods this way, the other approach being flooded.
However I soon picked up 2 calling Tawny’s over Berwick, one quite distant but the second bird relatively close.
A very good start with the Woodcock was made even better with the Tawny’s, well worth tripping over and walking into bloody branches in darkness.

The Farm Trail - Canary Wharf lit up with the Shard showing more or less in the middle

From then on I walked the Farm Trail to the end, listened for more Tawny’s but nothing from the Optimist Woods area .Didn’t connect with Barn Owl either so headed to the Reservoir as it got light, this came up trumps with some good birds for the Valley.

Calling Little Owl down the Slips was quickly followed by an Egyptian Goose on the Island; Egyptian’s are always hard here for some reason.
The Res produced 2 Wigeon, Pochard and 3 flyover Great Black Backed Gulls, a bird I didn’t get last year rather surprisingly.

Moving on to the Glades produced Yellowhammer and 7 Red Legged Partridge on the New Tip but no Redpolls or Siskin in the Glades unfortunately.

However scanning around did produce the bird of the morning for me, distant but unmistakably a Red Kite, another not seen last year.
Lee got onto this as well which was even better.

Very distant Red Kite

The last tick of the morning was Shoveler from the viewing area which bought the morning list up to a respectable 61, without doubt my best start to date.

Retired from here for a Coffee in the Centre, starting another bloody diet so no cakes/goodies, however a good mornings birding more than made up for the hunger pangs.

Sunday, 24 December 2017


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Blackwater Boat Trip

December 16th

This has been in mind for a few years with Steve at Swallow Birding, always seemed too busy but finally got round to it this year.

Essex birding at its best with many of the winter hard to see species all on view on the trip, we launched from West Mersea on a very cold but sunny day.
The trip took us right up the Blackwater and we were out around 4 hours, good to see past regular haunts like Old Hall Marshes and Rolls Farm from a different perspective.

With a rising tide many wader species were gathering for pre roost, large flocks of Knot and Dunlin were very evident along with seemingly endless Wigeon and Dark Bellied Brent flocks, a fantastic sight.

Being on a boat birds do not seem to spook as much allowing really good views, many highlights, Steve pulling out a Glossy Ibis was probably bird of the day but there was so many other ‘goodies’.

My sightings were as follows –

Red Breasted Merganser – probably around 40 – constant flocks

Goldeneye – around 30, one good largish flock seen

Great Northern Diver – 5 seen, one species I wanted to see, spectacular to see 5

Marsh Harrier – 4 probably more

Shag – 3 seen including one in the harbour and one that came up alongside the boat

Glossy Ibis – seen in flight before landing

Common Scoter – around 20 including a couple of close females

Common Buzzard – 2 seen

Greater Scaup – female type seen

Red Kite – one crossing from Bradwell

Slavonian Grebe – one seen very well

Black Necked Grebe – 2 again seen well

Guillemot – one seen, a right poser.

A thoroughly enjoyable trip which I will definitely be going on again, thanks to Steve and the team and good to meet Rob Sheldon, hopefully I can get on the next one.