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Sunday, 9 August 2020

Beckton latest



Plenty of activity on the site and good to confirm a minimum of 3 Sparrowhawk juveniles, as per normal very loud giving their positions away.

I didn’t locate the nest, the jungle foliage trying to access it was comparable with the Amazon, too much for my little legs and I gave up after 10 metres, age catching up,10 years ago I would have ploughed through.

The Kestrels are ever present as are the Common Buzzards, although only seeing one of the Buzzards, might tell a story but getting late for breeding, would have expected to have seen juveniles by now. The Buzzards have been here a good few years now, highly adaptable in carrion feeding I have watched what looks like the male feeding in a skip full of waste so obviously a very versatile species. America’s equivalent, the Red Tailed Hawk has become very urban so it maybe that Buzzards could be heading down the same road. If someone had told me 10 years ago that a pair of Common Buzzards would take up residence in the Sewage Works I would have thought not a chance.

Buzzard - highly adaptable
                                                                      Highly versatile

Beckton does hold a good number of birds and that obviously reflects in the Raptors present, as the urban sprawl comes ever further east from London and construction goes on all around it, sites like Beckton become very important for wildlife. 

Lots of other birds on show as well, Little Egrets numbers are building and Common Sandpiper numbers peaked at 12, caught up with Sandwich Tern as Common Tern numbers reached around 60 feeding mid river.

                                                                    Common Sandpipers
                                                                          Wasp Spider 
                                                                            Grey Seal
                                                               Southern Migrant Hawker

In looking for birds, I was also lucky enough to see both species of Seal on the Thames recently, Grey and Harbour Seal, the former being quite confiding, it’s a bit of a first seeing both at the same time. 

I also caught up with Southern Migrant Hawker, a first for the site and a Dragon that seems to be populating the South of England.



Saturday, 1 August 2020

Cooling Marshes

July 28th

First visit for a good few months, March if I recall correctly, great to be back over here, although windy it was nice and bright and as ever the wildness of the North Kent Marshes was a breath of fresh air.

Driving out on the track produced a couple of Common Buzzards, Sand Martins moving west in good numbers with the odd Swift mixed in and several Swallows.

The undoubted highlight on the way out there was a big juvenile female peregrine mobbing 2 Foxes with low passes, at the time it was lowish light but true to form and attitude she gave both a very hard time. Photos are not great, couldn’t get a lock on her.

First Fox

2nd Fox

Bring quite warm I was also hoping to catch up with Southern Migrant Hawkers, having been seen recently at Cliffe I was hopeful. 

Luckily enough the visit also coincided with high tide, good numbers of waders were present which included the following.

Avocet – a minimum of 350
Black Tailed Godwit – 800
Curlew – 120
Grey Plover -3
Greenshank – 2
Whimbrel – 7
Oystercatcher – 54

Other than these - Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone and Green Sandpiper were also seen which made it a good wader morning.

On the raptor front 3 Marsh Harriers, same amount of Kestrels but surprisingly no Hobbies, likely August is better for them.

What I thought was a Wood Lark was also seen, flight singing as well but on photo review later turned out to be a Skylark. At the time I thought definite but shows you can be wrong quite easily, bit of a howler and a reminder to not take things for granted and look at all the features.

Dragons were present but didn’t connect with Southern’s but plenty of Migrant Hawkers, Ruddy Darters were everywhere, most though were sheltering from the wind. 

A few Wall Browns were also showing, always good to catch up with these. 

Great to be back, hopefully another visit in August. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Battersea Power Station latest


July has arrived and the juvenile Smokey entered his second month of fledged life, watching him on site visits, it’s now plain to see that flight is now far stronger and landings on a par with the adults.

A Power Station sunrise 

He will be 100% reliant on the adults for the near future, until instinct/behaviour from watching the adults really starts dictating and he makes his first kill. He is already trying for his own prey; youthful exuberance means he is chasing every Feral Pigeon on site as part of the learning process.

It will likely take him around 2 months+ before he takes his own prey.

Being a male and with no siblings, it could be that we could well be in for another long stayer like 2019 Solo, we will see, that was quite a saga so hopefully no repeat of this. The Power Station has a history of long staying male juveniles; in most cases it only seems to be linked with single siblings however.

What might have been - Smokey looking at the 3 infertile eggs.

In regards to wild prey, the following are the main species that the Battersea pair has taken from January 1st until June 30th.

Ring Necked Parakeet - 40

Starling – 28

Goldfinch – 4

Woodcock – 2

Fieldfare – 1

Moorhen – 3

Little Grebe – 2

Redwing – 2

Chaffinch – 4

Meadow Pipit – 1

Swift – 7

Stock Dove - 1

Unidentified - 7

These are what I have recorded on the nest tower ledges and the nest box itself, Ring Necked Parakeet it seems has taken over from Starling as the 2nd most abundant prey taken. I suspect though that this may only be occurring where the Parakeets are more locally abundant, having said that, there range now is all over London it seems. Of course the figures for both and others are obviously going to be higher; they are not going to bring all prey in range of the CCTV.

One thing I have noticed is that the Falcon has resumed nocturnal hunting again after breeding, all is linked to the weather but if there are clear skies, she’s usually out on the ledges from 1.00a.m onwards.

Wet but still hunting

Watching her on Sunday (12th) also showed just how efficient a hunter she is, 1st hunt from one of the Cranes and she took a Feral Pigeon over the top of the Refuse Centre. 

She misses nothing sitting up there.

About to hunt

Getting looked over.

1st hunt coming down at speed

Feral Pigeon taken from the Refuse Centre

Friday, 10 July 2020

Thursley Common

July 7th 2020

I have meant to visit this site every year since time began, every year something always gets in the way and I usually miss the window.
It’s a well known place of natural beauty and very well known for Dragonflies, especially the rarer ones, along with this it’s also a good place for birds.

Unfortunately someone with a disposable barbecue it seems set light to it on May 31st and much of the Reserve went up in flames. There is a donation website to help restore it online as well set up.

The loss of natural life would have been catastrophic, so when we visited I had an open mind and fully expected not to see much.

The Boardwalks out onto the really good Dragon areas had burnt out, many were simply stumps, they are also obviously closed off.

However I found enough boggy wet areas viewed from the main path to find 2 species I had never seen before – Keeled Skimmer and Black Darter. Got some photos of the Keeled but the Darter was impossible, very small and fast and not a chance of a photo as it never seemed to land.

Keeled Skimmers

4 Spot Chaser

Keeled Skimmer

Emerald Damselfly

Azure Damselfly

Of course lots of other Dragons present as well, 4 Spot Chasers seemed to be everywhere and I also caught up with Emerald Damselfly.

Birds – plenty to see, we didn’t walk too far but caught up with at least 3 pairs of Stonechat, 3 Red Kites, 2 Common Redstarts, Coal Tits, Treecreeper, Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Buzzards and 3 flyover calling Crossbills.

Distant Red Kite

A long overdue visit, still some more of the rarer Dragons to see, so another visit is in order.