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Saturday, 4 July 2020

Fostering






This year June will definitely go down as a month I won’t forget for a long time, the sheer number of juvenile’s down/trapped/or taken into SEWH was quite staggering.

In a way it is a good thing, not the fact that many of them got themselves into trouble or grounded etc, it just shows and reflects a good density of Peregrines now breeding in London.

Recently a juvenile Peregrine, found grounded in London and kindly taken into care by Tracey, came to the attention of various parties and was tracked down by Stuart, I was able to eventually pick it up on Monday June 29th, it was then taken to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital.



Picked up.

After some discussion and Stuart seeing if we could hack the bird, this was not an option, it was then decided the best chance and option was to foster the little fella as the nest site was unknown.

If you recall from the Blog in the past, I have fostered juveniles at least 3 times successfully at one particular site, the pair here and the layout of the site is perfect for this.

However the first juvenile at this site fledged on June 6th with the other 2 siblings following a couple of days later, it meant that fostering would take place 25 days after the first fledging.

This would be the longest period I had done for fostering – was the time period too long?

Of course it all goes through your head – is it too long a gap for the Falcon to instantly bond with it? – will she/ the adults attack it? – can it fly strongly? – If I release it, will it just bugger off, if able, not recognising its surroundings?

I picked the bird up from SEWH on Wednesday July 1st after Sue and Tom gave the ok, as ever another great job on short notice and I then took it to Paul to put a ring on it. Obviously the ring will always provide good data but in this case, the idea was that if accepted, I could tell it from the other 3 juveniles visually by the ring.


Going back with a ring for identification

Would the family be present on arrival – certainly the juveniles, 2 were up calling and tail chasing, a good start. I had deliberately arrived 10 minutes early, so I stuck the little chap in the carrier on the roof of the car so he could have a listen and also visually see them. I also wanted him to see his surroundings before his release, you might think that’s stupid but these little things could possibly make a difference.

From there I met John and we then went up and accessed the roof under Schedule 1 licence, a couple of the juveniles were still on the wing still but I needed the adult Falcon to see me. After a short while she appeared circling and started to alarm call, this was good and what I wanted, the maternal/territorial instinct kicking in seeing me visually. Without further adoo I released the juvenile straight away, her calls then got even louder (hopefully thinking it was one of her own), the little fella had a quick look around and was off.

Flight was fairly good, he was heading the wrong way and I was willing him to turn back into the wind, this he promptly did to my relief.

As he did this the Falcon followed him, possibly recognising flight was not as strong as the other 3 and I then lost sight of him heading for a pylon.

At ground level I looked for him, the other 3 juveniles had by now  landed on another part of the building and very pleased to say, I found him sitting near the top of the pylon with the Falcon next to him.



Juvenile safely landed
New 'Mum' keeping an eye on him.

Falcon I suspect recognised flight not great.

So far so good.

Initial landing position - Falcon can just be seen through the grill.

A very good release and far better than I could have hope for, I watched them both for another hour and other than the Falcon making short flights elsewhere, she returned each time. However he was pretty exposed up there and bad weather was coming in…..

On Saturday July 4th I visited the site again, would he still be present?

More to come…….

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Beckton Sewage Works






As far as I can tell the Kestrels have had just the single juvenile this year, it was hard to monitor them due to lock down but all I could see was the single chick in the box.

I also couldn’t locate the female Kestrel after a few watches, only seeing the male coming in, possibly may tie in with their only being one chick. If one bird is only feeding and away for long periods hunting, it’s possible that predation/starvation may have been an issue.

The Common Buzzards are breeding somewhere, just keep seeing the single bird, the Sparrowhawks are again present as well, keep seeing the male slipping in and have narrowed it down to around half a dozen trees. Before long expect to hear the giveaway call, hopefully get some photos soon now back up and running.









Add caption

















Also been recording Dragons and Butterflies over there, new camera on the horizon, the long awaited D500 will soon be replacing the D7100.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Battersea Power Station Update






As we know from past juveniles on the site, there will always be dramas, it goes hand in hand with fledging, I think newly named Smokey however is trying to take top spot.

It all started on Wednesday June 10th 7.23a.m, checking the camera I could not locate him, backtracking on the CCTV, showed him unfortunately slipping off the south ledge after overdoing the exercise flaps. From the cameras we could see him heading towards the Power Station flying well.



Getting it wrong unfortunately

With everyone looking for him, the site was well covered by MACE personel; however despite this he still could not be located.

He was eventually located in the Waste Transfer Station next door early evening, from photos his position was very low so a massive thanks to Mick Kirwan and his team next door, there is little doubt that he would have been Fox prey during the night. I picked him up at 8.30pm that evening and he spent the night in our front room, Christine has got used to this over the years.


Very low and would have likely been found by Foxes

On Thursday morning I took him to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, as you know they do an incredible job. Given the all clear, I picked him back up on Friday and we released him back onto the roof of the northern accommodation. It was a good release with the Falcon spotting him straight away and reacting well.

With single siblings I never like to leave it too long, there is a risk the longer you leave it, the bond becomes weaker and weaker without other siblings around, after too long, they could possibly see them as intruders and attack them.

A good release, I thought that would be it but unfortunately not, by the evening he had grounded again, I couldn't get back so Mick kindly returned, caught him and put him back on the roof again. A big thanks to Mick/ Security/Clipfine and MACE personel and all those involved in making sure he stayed safe, the site recovery plan worked well, a box placed over him and kept in eyesight all the time.

I checked him on Saturday morning, still on the roof; I know the Falcon fed him on there as well.

On Sunday morning I found him on top of the Thames Tideway Crane, the Falcon took prey and deliberately did not feed him; if he wanted to feed he had to fly to the Nest Box.

A big thanks also go to the Thames Tideway site people for listening to me and keeping an eye on him.



Thames Tideway Crane




Glad to say that he made touchdown and regained the nest box at 10.07a.m on Sunday 14th, hopefully that will be it, he has spent all of the Sunday on the nest box, no doubt relieved to be back, quite an adventure.






Sunday, 31 May 2020

Battersea Power Station Latest






If you recall the pair laid 4 eggs and all was looking pretty normal fare with the 1st egg hatching on May 1st, after this I eagerly watched the remaining 3 on the CCTV.There usually pretty close thereafter, 1 or 2 days or so but sadly that was it, the remaining 3 were no doubt infertile.

She brooded them for a further 3 weeks but it could be that age may be catching up with her, she arrived in the winter of 2012 as an adult so definitely 9 or 10 or possibly older, getting on a bit in peregrine terms.

The chick is thriving, as of today one month old, now standing up on her legs, notice I said her; she seems to have the characteristics of a female. ‘She’ is more reserved in what she does, its took her ages to build confidence to leave the box, she seems less confident. Males on the other hand always seemingly go at everything, including fledging first, full of attitude usually and in your face, certainly seems so when I pick up “grounders”.

I’m probably wrong, won’t be the first time but interesting to see.








From the start of the year I have been recording prey coming into the box, the Tiercel is doing the Lions share at the moment, he is no doubt the local Ring Necked Parakeet nemesis, to date he has taken 28 of them. Many of the Tiercels hunts take him over Battersea Park; I suspect it is here that he is intercepting the Parakeets. 

This year on the CCTV alone, I have noticed that they are switching more to ‘wild birds’ rather than the normal Feral Pigeon mainstay of prey taken. For 20 years, more or less every hunt at dawn has always been to intercept the Feral Pigeons heading south, from either the chimneys or the Cranes.

There is no doubt this year that Feral Pigeon numbers are reducing, due to construction as the Power Station closes up and they cannot get access to roost and nest.

The highly adaptable Peregrines have adjusted and are just taking more ‘wild’ species, hence the number of Parakeets taken this year, far more than I see annually on the CCTV.



I had my first grounded bird on May 22nd unbelievably, for this juvenile to have fledged this early meant that she must have laid in the 1st week of March working it back, it was very likely the most advanced family in the UK.

Couldn’t get the little chap back up high, so took him to the South Essex Wildlife Hospital where he was fed, cared for and checked over before I released him back on May 27th.

Feisty male but now back with the adults and siblings.

Since then in May, there has been 2 other grounders, seems to get earlier and earlier every year. 



Saturday, 16 May 2020

Parliament





May 9th



I was able to visit on the above date under essential work for the first time since lock down; if memory serves my last visit was March 7th. The visit was to check whether breeding or not and additionally, any potential safety issues that could possibly arise through netting (if any works had taken place).

Arriving at 5.00a.m, the Park was still closed so I walked Abingdon Street, Westminster Bridge and the Abbey looking for signs of them.



Empty Abingdon Street




Located the Tiercel at roost on the base of Middle Tower before he went up hunting, eventually the park opened around 6 and I was able to keep an eye on the nest box.



The Park

Over the next 3 hours I watched it pretty intently, the hoped for nest relief did not materialise but based on the actions of the Tiercel over this period it looks very good. The fact is that over the morning I did not see the Falcon, so she was either covering eggs or likely chicks at this stage or she was not present at all.

However his actions, he took no prey during my visit, but on 2 occasions he did flybys of the box calling and I could see his head turned looking towards it. Tiercels love to incubate as we know; I would presume he was trying to get her to exit so he could take over.

This didn’t work, so on a 3rd flyby he went directly to the box, for around 2 minutes he stared inside before leaving.



Roost Position







The obvious scenario is that she would not lift and switch over, possibly likely knowing he had not taken prey, its more or less prey first and then you can incubate as Falcon’s are very dominant, especially early morning.

This happens a lot at Battersea, with the Tiercel trying it on many times arriving prey less and then being sent on his way.

The other scenario is that he was going to the box to look for cached prey, however signs point towards breeding hopefully, the only other thing to consider is that she was off elsewhere hunting for herself or not present at all.



Tiercel - leg ring doesn't look like the standard BTO issue

I will confirm this week now that I am allowed out.







Saturday, 25 April 2020

Foxy



Some more of the Fox, getting regular now, came and joined me out in the Car Park whilst having my Coffee the other morning, partial to a cocktail sausage.