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Friday, 25 March 2016

Early layers, 5 eggs and Parliament

There are 2 pairs that I keep an extra eye on when it comes to early laying, both Falcons this year laid there 1st egg on the 15th.In direct comparison to 2015, one was 4 days earlier with the 2nd 4 days later, with a relatively mild winter I had thought that both, given previous year’s form would both be earlier than the 15th.

However, the 15th is 2 weeks earlier than the standard March 28th-April 2nd so the early date can be expected given that London is south and boast’s warmer temperatures in the City, 2 degrees warmer I am told.

As I write this entry on March 25th many pairs have caught up in laying, of the 10 pairs that I monitor, 8 have laid and are incubating, some not fully so likely the early stages of laying.

5 Eggs

It has taken me so long to write this blog entry that one of the 1st layers on the 15th has caught me up and laid 5 eggs no less. A remarkable clutch which, if all hatch, will keep the adults, especially the Tiercel rushed off his feet to provide food. The pressure will then increase when juveniles are near and full grown, each one will demand whole prey for itself, both adults are going to be extremely busy birds.

It is my first clutch of 5 eggs in London in 17 years of monitoring some of London’s Peregrines, the only other 5 I had was a site in Kent, now gone sadly.

Her laying times for each egg have been outstanding and consistent and seem to buck the trend of later eggs taking longer – see below.

1st egg - March 15th

2nd egg – 53 hours 21 minutes later

3rd egg – 53 hours 26 minutes later

4th egg – 53 hours 14 minutes later

5th egg – 55 hours 10 minutes later

The Tiercel in particular, given his smaller size is already struggling to cover all 5 while she feeds or has a preen, here and there an egg pops out but relief from the Falcon is never too long so hopefully all will hatch.


It is early days yet, but the Parliament pair are holding to territory on their wintering site and may possibly attempt to breed at Parliament for the 1st time.

Falcon laying up

The alternative is that they just may summer on Parliament, however this may be unlikely as they have been seen copulating.

I have been watching them for the last few months and if you recall from past blog entries on the Parliament Peregrine Diary, their breeding site has always been upriver. However this is now in the process of demolition so the pair have now returned to their ‘home’ site.

Hopefully it will be good news come the end of the Easter holiday.

A confiding Wren checking me out

Magpies building a nest 

Photos below are from an earlier visit in the week, as you can see Egyptian Geese at Parliament and even investigating potential chimney nest sites across the road – remarkable.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Rainham RSPB

March 17th

My usual circuit on a grand sunny morning at last also produced a good mornings birding, I added 3 year ticks to the list.

With spring now in sight it is just good to be out, thoughts are now turning to Wheatear, Sand Martin and Little Ringed Plover as the early arrivals, none seen but Rainham I expect will turn up one or the other very shortly.

All ticks were encountered on the river wall with Corn Bunting being the first followed by a flyover Grey Wagtail and then 2 Chiffchaff’s in the bramble.

I was also hoping for Rock or Water Pipit as these are now on the turn into summer plumage and appear very smart, especially the Water’s.

On walking round the Reserve, displaying Redshank and Lapwing seemed to be everywhere whilst overhead produced 2 Marsh Harriers, a Peregrine and a Common Buzzard.

Displaying Redshank - everywhere

Having met Russ earlier, he had then found a Jack Snipe from the new scrape hide, slightly distant and well camouflaged, it still gave good views. My previous effort was a bird in flight earlier in the year so this was very welcome.

Well camouflaged Jack Snipe

A bit more visible avoiding the Moorhen

For my next visit, hopefully some spring migrants.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Beckton Sewage Works

Green Sandpiper and Grey Wagtail making the most of the sunshine on Sunday.