My peregrine monitoring keeps me on my toes in London and this time of year, the birds are now under licence as of February 1st, is going the same way as previous years, pretty manic. Nest boxes have to be cleaned out, flooding and roof access have all become issues which are covered on my other Parliament blog linked to the side of this, Urban Peregrines and Schedule 1 inevitably leads to various issues as you can imagine.
One thing they do lead me to covering the various sites around London is Black Redstarts, on 3 of the sites that I monitor, both Schedule 1 species co exist, the Peregrines presence benefiting the Black Redstarts breeding program by keeping the Corvids away from said site.
As long as the Black Redstarts don’t go flying up into open sky in the concrete jungle they are pretty safe, the urban habitat on all 3 sites happens to suit both species for breeding, it’s not an intentional thing on the Black Redstarts part to gain protection from the Peregrines. That's not to say that Peregrines in London don’t take small birds, we know they do, it’s just that other birds flight patterns like Starling and Ring Necked Parakeet suit the open sky hunting techniques of an urban peregrine.
The little chaps, Black Redstarts, are a rarity in London and the UK for that matter and it is always good to see them. Below are a section of photos from past years.
On February 28th myself and my mates, Shaun Harvey, Martin Blow and Paul Hawkins are undertaking a weekend whirlwind visit to Scotland based at Aviemore as in the past.
I have been there twice before on birding trips, in 2008 and 2010 if my memory serves me properly, it’s not what it was so hopefully right. In both cases Ptarmigan eluded us on the trip up the ski lift where they are usually seen, this year with photography in mind and 2 possibly 3 of us needing them for a life tick, we have got ourselves a guide.
The itinerary is roughly shaped like this, we are still discussing it but obviously with a guide we hope to get some good photos, this means my dots on the horizon should be closer you will be happy to know.
Friday 28th – Fly from Luton arrive mid day, clear Airport as fast as possible and get a certain Coot if it doesn’t do a bunk, any other known rarities in the area nail down if possible like King Eider/White Billed Diver etc… or if time permitting possibly visit Findhorn Valley for Golden Eagle or possibly visit Caper sites. All this is yet to be discussed between the 4 of us I might add so it’s likely to be totally different and not set in stone.
Saturday 1st – with our guide Marcus for the day for photography – main course Ptarmigan and Crested Tit, hopefully stunning in your face photos that knock you over backwards, after these 2 crackers who knows more Highland speciality species, Caper? Itinerary yet to be decided.
Sunday 2nd – we fly back late afternoon so this one has got to be planned like a military exercise, there are a number of courses available to us but as it stands, and yet to be decided, the West Coast route looks good.
This would entail driving out in the dark to be at the Black Duck site for dawn, again this is if it is still present. From here work our way back along the coast looking in particular for Golden and White Tailed Eagle, along the way basically check everything including harbours for white wingers. This route should also give us good photo opportunities and hopefully net us some good birds like Red Throated, Black Throated and Great Northern Divers, Velvet Scoters, Red Necked and Slavonian Grebes, Long Tailed Ducks and Black Guillemots.
|Taken on the last trip, not a good photo of one but I would settle for it, especially that blue sky as well.|
|Would settle for views like this also.|
Much depends on the weather and how much we drink the night before, of them all I must admit I wouldn’t mind seeing a Drake Long Tailed Duck up close in all its finery, even better getting a photo of it.